So, your brand-new website – what’s the plan? No plan, fingers crossed and leave it to the web design agency? Or a firm foundation for a strategy that creates a solid online sales tool? Before we dig into our step by step for website planning, we should point out that this blog is for every type of client – from those who have literally zero knowledge of the technical stuff, to those who’ve served as whizz kid webmasters for decades. Wherever you fit, let’s get started…
First things first – What should your website actually do?
Clue: It should be more than a collection of supremely pretty pixels.
Today, it’s not enough that your website looks modern, beautiful or super slick. Simply being aesthetically pleasing will get you nowhere in this online world – at least not without a cold, hard strategy that runs underneath those exceptionally nice-looking pages. So, what should your website actually do? Here are some ideas…
- Convert visitors into purchasing customers there and then
- Create and strengthen brand awareness
- Improve your search engine ranking month on month
- Enhance usability
- Create fans and brand ambassadors
- Improve the length of the average website visit
The critical second step – How is your current website performing?
The answer to this question can be found by using a web analytics program (for which you have many options, although Google Analytics is by far the most feature-rich and popular amongst the freebie platforms).
Whatever platform you use, here is a list of the web data you should explore…
- Number of site visits per month, broken down by new and returning visitors
- Highest-performing web pages
- Average bounce rate (users who click on and then away without the page fully loading)
- Sales figures
- Best ranking keywords/pages for those terms
- Total inbound links
- Average amount of time spent on site
Step three – Understand the challenges, capitalise on opportunities.
By diving into your website data, you gain a far deeper understanding of the current challenges and opportunities for your website re-design. Central to reproducing and protecting the successes you currently enjoy are these four key questions about your highest-performing web pages…
- What makes this page’s content valuable?
- What information is useful?
- How is this page engaging visitors – are there things you can learn about the visuals, voice, content?
- How can these be replicated throughout the site?
Pro tip: Protect your inbound links
You’ve spent weeks, months, years working on your search engine ranking. Don’t wipe away your hard work in a matter of a single re-design. Make sure your page urls remain the same – and stress the importance of this to any agency you work with.
Step four… Time to backtrack – Who is your audience, anyway?
Think you know your target visitor? Defining them with a persona can help ensure that your design, tone of voice, content and overall website direction resonates with them.
A persona includes things such as your ‘ideal’ consumer’s age, education, family status, location, income level, profession/industry and preferred marketing communication styles.
Not created a persona before? This freebie persona template from Hubspot will make this task super straight forward.
Step five… Last but certainly not least – Communication. It’s mission critical.
By now you should have a tight grip on the next steps for your new website, and be far better placed to work alongside a website design agency (rather than being totally led by them or, worse still, dictated to when you really have zero clue as to what they’re talking about).
But here’s the thing – communication is absolutely essential to any successful web agency/ business relationship – it’s critical for your budget, deadlines, and the overall outcome of the project. So share all that you’ve learnt from these steps – for a flourishing start to your collaborative efforts.
At Sourcefour, we see beyond the pixels. We appreciate websites as the tool of business they are. But that doesn’t mean we talk in techno riddles or geek jargon. Let’s make sense of every step, together – website design that delivers – conversions, new clients, commercial growth. Let’s talk.