Following i3 Digital’s recent 6 Things to Consider Before Building Your App blog entry, we’re now providing The 6 Key Things You Need to Know Before Creating Your Website.
No matter what else exists in the digital world, your company’s website is undoubtedly your company’s most important communications tool. As your shop-window to the world, you must be sure that you not only get it right to begin with, but as a living entity in itself, that it evolves, grows and adapts to reflect your organisation and customers’ needs over time.
When we (or any reputable digital agency) meet with prospective new customers or returning clients, we ensure to cover some ground on a few key topics. They exist to decipher exactly why our clients not only want a website, but what they really need it to do for them. There are numerous other key steps to consider before putting code to keyboard, but below are 6 things to consider, whether building your own site or working with a digital agency.
Step 1: Be Clear on Your Strategy
The first thing we ensure to cover with clients is their (overall business and online) strategy, and once we create a tangible and robust plan, it serves as the foundation for everything else we do. A fairly common problem that organisations of all sizes face when creating a new website is that they don’t fully understand their project objectives from the off. They know they need a website, but they have only a vague idea of what purpose it will have. Ensuring you map out what your organisation wants to say about itself is essential, and is pretty much the basic fundamentals of marketing.
The point of doing this is to create a website that is not just “there”, but is successful. To achieve that, you must consider and be clear about who you are, what you do, why you do it (your purpose), and what the core values of your business are. If you don’t know all of this, then you can’t expect to be able to create a website that portrays a clear message.
Step 2: Consider You Customer Journeys
Only once you’ve established a strategy wherein the core values upon which your website should be based and clarified the messaging you want to communicate to your visitors, can you begin to envision what it should physically include. When this is clear, you can contemplate the types of journeys you are leading visitors through as they land on and navigate through your site. Firstly, consider the first impression in terms of look and feel of your website. User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are essential to get right for any organisation, so be sure to consider all of this as you plan your website.
No matter how your UX/UI develops, it must always keep your organisation’s purpose in mind, as this is the bedrock of your overall website strategy. It’s important to be clear about how you want people to move through your site, and consider how your visitors can be encouraged to stay longer and follow calls to action. As your visitors traverse your site, you must communicate clearly what your company does, and make it as easy and enjoyable to navigate as possible. Visitors should be able to effortlessly navigate your site in the same way retailers make sure their shops are clean, presentable, and portray the right image for their business. You’re doing the exact same thing here, but online and to the whole world!
Step 3: Create Sitemaps and Wireframes
To really plan your website and the overall UX, it’s essential to map-out all of its pages to give you a physical view of how your website will appear to your visitors. Sitemaps are typically sketched out by agency Design and UX specialists in accordance with the client, and the process typically starts by deciding what the main categories in the top-level menu will be.
We then carefully create what pages should be included in each section of the website, all the while considering what your visitors’ user experiences will be and ensuring they will be able to easily find what they need. Digital wireframes then help ensure that each of your web pages have clear objectives, and that they are met.
Step 4: Qualify Your Content
What and how you communicate within your website is known as your content, and it’s this that will make you findable in search engines, bring visitors to your site, and encourage them to stay, share your brand with their peers, and buy from you. All in all…it’s pretty important to get right! No matter how awesome your UX/UI/and design is, if your content isn’t up to scratch, your website will have higher drop-off rates than your average nursing home!
Creating great content is a whole other subject, but in order to make your content more shareable you should always focus it around your customers. People (believe it or not) aren’t interested in your company. Whenever they are online (or when meeting them in person), they aren’t that bothered about what you do. Instead, what they really want to know, is what you can do FOR THEM.
Tailoring your content around your customers and using it to demonstrate a deep knowledge of their industries, pain points, concerns and issues, then highlighting your expertise in making their lives easier, is the type of content that will really grow your business and ensure your company is seen as a true expert and thought leader. Ensuring your content isn’t a series of sales pitches, but informative and (without sounding like David Brent) entertaining, will also mean people will be much more likely to share it…and only great things come of that.
Step 5: Design
The visual appearance and overall design of your website is crucial, as humans by nature “buy with their eyes”, and won’t hang around if your site is aesthetically dull, displeasing or dreary. Therefore, ensure your visuals and layout support a great UX and flow of the eye, whilst supporting your overall brand theme. Your customers expect websites to be visually pleasing and easy to navigate, so make sure you give them just that.
Step 6: A/B Test (Before, During and After Launch)
We released a full blog about A/B Testing a few weeks ago, but it is worth mentioning again. No matter what, there’s absolutely nobody in your company that can be truly certain what your customers and visitors think of your website, and what works best in terms of conversions and overall ROI.
Marketers, sales staff, directors, company owners, and designers will often have different opinions on what your website should look like or communicate, because they all have different agendas and aims within the business. A/B Testing allows you to remove all debate, doubt, and discussion over an image, phrase, colour, tone of voice, CTA position, or just about any other piece of content on your website. It removes all the guessing, and allows you to go to bed at night knowing that you’re squeezing every last ounce of value out of your website – the most important marketing communications tool your business has. You can read about it here!
These are just a few things that must be considered by any company or organisation before creating their website. At i3 Digital, we ensure that our website and CMS projects fit the needs of not only our customers, but theirs as well. We’ve been doing it for over 20 years, and would love to work with you when the time’s right for your organisation. Just get in touch any time, and we’d be delighted to talk.