Creating a new website – 10 things to think about
Its certainly a very daunting prospect if you’ve been asked to create your Companies new website! So many things to do, in an unrealistic deadline no doubt. Firstly who are you going to use to design and develop it, do you need a designer or a developer or both!! And then you remember your best mates kid likes messing around with websites in his spare time, so thats a possibility obviously! Then there’s the content and the imagery, the sitemap, the keyword research…..
In reality creating a new website involves a range of services, planners, copywriters, graphic and digital designers, developers and SEO its the whole package, you can’t have one without the other, there’s no point building a website if nobody will see it, in this case, if you build it, they won’t necessarily come.
Obviously we would say this but if you haven’t had the experience of project managing a website build before, we do recommend using a creative or digital agency who can guide you through the whole process and ensure the site is exactly what you want and will do exactly what you want, especially when your presenting it to your boss. A good digital and creative team around you will be there to help and guide you, make sure you don’t make any expensive mistakes, hold your hand through the process and you never know it might turn out to be fun!
1) What does your new website need to achieve?
Every website should be designed for a purpose, or theres not much point, you should have a clear understanding of your objectives from the outset it will make it a lot easier to decide what content you want on the site and how you are going to monitor success. Objectives can vary depending on the type of company you are promoting. For example a B2B website may be used primarily to generate leads to be followed up by the sales team whereas a Consumer website may be designed to make online sales or build brand awareness. Making sure you are crystal clear on your objectives will be crucial in achieving the best results. If you have an existing website, establishing what works and doesn’t work currently is a great place to start.
2) What will your new website look like?
At the heart of your marketing activities, it is important that your website dovetails with the rest of your marketing collateral, just like a brochure or a lea et would. If you are happy with your company’s branding it makes sense to create a website that re ects this. Alternatively the launch of a new website can be a great opportunity to refresh your brand and ensure it meets the needs of your target audience. Or this could be a website for a new start up company or new product launch. A good brand should re ect your company ethos and communicate the right message to your customers.
Top Tip: Be careful of using o the shelf templates or online tools to build your website, they might look good but site builders limit the control you have over your site. You want to make sure you stand out from the crowd!
3) Your target audience?
Understanding who you are targeting is crucial to the success of your website. It is also important to understand the journey these customers will take when visiting the site. It may make things easier if you consider the needs of existing and prospective customers separately. A good website will include plenty of shortcuts so that returning visitors can nd exactly what they are looking for, however it will also have clear signposting for new visitors so that they understand exactly how they can interact with you. Above all make sure that your main marketing message is communicated through your website as soon as someone arrives on the homepage. If possible focus on a bene t that will make an instant emotional connection with your target audience, this is your opportunity to grab their attention.
4) What will the call to action be?
Once you have established your objectives and target audience it should give you a good idea of what your call to action needs to be. In the example of the B2B website above the call to action might be to ask the visitor to GET IN TOUCH or MAKE AN ENQUIRY – whether it’s a form, an email link or telephone number. For the consumer site every element of the site will need to work towards encouraging the visitor to BUY NOW. Your call to action should ideally be ‘above the fold’ on your homepage and in various key locations throughout the site. You are basically trying to make the prospect journey as simple as possible and reduce the options available so that you reduce the decision making process.
5) How do you keep your site updated?
One of the most common mistake people make when building a website is to assume that once the site is live their job is done! In reality, now the hardwork begins, if you never change the content on your site its success will be very short lived. Existing visitors will quickly realise that they aren’t going to gain anything new and potential customers will struggle to nd the site as it will be somewhere on page 10. One of the easiest ways to keep your site fresh is to create a Blog section where you can post ongoing news and content to keep your customers informed.
6) What’s the plan for measuring success?
If you were very clear on your objectives at the outset then deciding what you need to measure should be relatively easy. It might be you are monitoring the number of enquiries, tracking online sales or attracting the maximum number
of visitors. Whatever your objective you need to make sure that the site is set up to track the most relevant information you need. e.g. via Google Analytics. Remember that a high proportion of website visitors are anonymous and whilst they remain anonymous you are unable to identify them and market to them. For this reason getting a form on your website so that you can capture and monitor visitor data is essential.
7) Your CMS Pages
You may have heard people talk about content management and the di erent systems available e.g. Magento, Drupal, Umbraco, Expression Engine and WordPress. At a basic level, a CMS system is a mechanism for updating the text and images on the site after it goes live. Your digital agency or creative agency will be able to advise on which system is best for your needs. They will take into consideration what the site will be used for e-commerce or contains sensitive data. If you have used a CMS system before and know your way round it – this can also be a deciding factor.
Top Tip: Whilst we’re all for individuality, be wary of custom CMS, these can be di cult to develop new features on and will tie you to that developer. Try to use an ‘Open Source’ CMS, this will allow you to use tested code and never be short of developers to work on your website.
The operating system used by your website will have an impact on where it can be hosted – so you need to bear this in mind at the outset. Your company may want to host it themselves, otherwise your digital agency or creative agency should be able to arrange hosting for you and will ensure they select the appropriate system.
9) Creating responsive websites
Not all websites are mobile friendly (responsive) but it is crucial that you request this. In today’s connected digital world more than 50% of web searching is done on mobile devices (phones, tablets etc).
If your website is not mobile friendly it is not only di cult to use on mobile devices but it also will be excluded from many mobile searches. In 2016 Google introduced further search penalties for websites that are not mobile friendly.
10) SEO (search engine optimisation)
It is well worth spending a bit of time at this stage thinking about what search terms your visitors might use when looking for your product or service online e.g. via Google. Existing customers will no doubt search for your company name, but new customers might start with wide generic search terms e.g. solicitors, lawyers etc. theey will soon realise that they need to be a bit more speci c to get exactly what they are looking for – so might try solicitors in Nottingham or family law specialists in Derby. Identifying these search terms (keywords) will under- pin the thought process for the whole website project – so if you are struggling to decide on your keywords some cost e ective research may be a good investment. Once you know your preferred keywords you can instruct your digital agency to make sure that your site is structured to provide the content these visitors will be looking for.
Top Tip: Making sure your website has these 10 basic elements will give you a good solid foundation to making your website as effective as possible. However this is only the beginning. If you would like an informal chat with a creative agency about your website plans or a free appraisal of your existing website, please get in touch with the team at redesign we’d love to hear from you.