So you think it might be time to update your website. Maybe it’s looking a little outdated and has become stagnant, you want to increase traffic and attract new business, or you want to take advantage of new technology that would allow “you” to edit and update content. Whatever the reason, your website is crucial to the success of your business. It’s your flag-ship marketing and communication tool. So here are five key steps to get you headed in the right direction.
Know Your Goals
Why are you embarking on a website redesign? What do you hope to accomplish? While these questions may sound obvious, many companies fail to establish effective goals for their website redesign. “Increase Sales” is not as useful a goal as “Increase sales leads by 20% by increasing the visibility and traffic to our website.” Other examples might include: sell your products/services right on the website, reduce administrative tasks, re-brand your company, pre-qualify prospects, recruit employees – the things a website can do for your company are virtually limitless, but you need to have clear goals. To start, figure out what you want the benefits of your website to be. Forget about the bells and whistles required to make it happen; that’s your web developer’s job. Sit down with all the internal stake holders and develop a list of what you want your website to do for your business. Detailed goals keep the project team focused on achieving success.
Talk to Your Customers & Employees
You’re probably well aware of many of the problems on your current website, but without talking with your customers and employees you may not know about the biggest problems. Or just as importantly, what customers would like to see on your new website. We’re talking about Needs Assessment and Requirements Gathering. It’s highly recommended that you have a third party collect this information, especially in talking with your customers to get non-biased and honest feedback. We provide this service and have found it to be crucial in developing a successful website.
Create a “Seed List”
There is an old Kevin Costner baseball movie that has an analogy that is so clichéd I simply cannot bring myself to repeat it. In the realm of baseball and the afterlife it may be true, but in the world of the web, it’s not. When a new website is built, it is an island – not a ballpark; and a deserted one at that. Your customers don’t know about it and neither do the search engines. You need to tell both of them. You need to market your website. Getting your website noticed by the right people is key and this is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes into play. You need to create a list of words and phrases that you would use to search for your business online. This is the “seed list” that your web developer will use to grow golden fruit. And just as importantly, you also need to consider e-newsletters, email campaigns, and social networking (please see other eMediaMinute articles covering these topics).
Your existing website may have assets you’ve built up over time that you’ll want to keep. You need to find out what those assets are so you can incorporate them into the redesign. Assets might include links to pages your customers have saved in their browser “favorites” to quickly navigate to your web site; search words or phrases that prospects and customers use to find your site; or content like a Q&A that can turn prospects into customers. The point is, you need to talk with all the stake holders (internal and external) to find out what assets you have, so you can assess their value and worthiness in carrying forward into your new web site.
Keep Moving Forward
A lot of web design projects never see the light of day because they get mired down in perpetual planning or hit the morass of committee decision making. There comes a time when you need to act. You won’t get it perfect the first time out (or ever), but you’ve got to move forward. And if every decision is made by committee, you’re in for a long and bumpy ride. Appoint one person to manage the project and work with your web development company. If you aim, re-aim and re-aim forever, you’ll never actually get off a shot. However if you aim – shoot –check your target – and shoot again, you are guaranteed to hit the bulls-eye.