You have your designer selected and you are ready to kickoff the project, but preparation is the key to getting the project completed efficiently and successfully.
Define your goals. With a new website or a website redesign, its important to know your website goals. Do you want it to sell products, are you providing a resource, do you want to generate sales leads or increase search rankings? Defining your goals sets the tone for how the website will look, the content architecture and functionality the website will include.
Know your buyer personas. A buyer persona is a description of your customer. How old are they? What are their motivations and buying patterns? Are they retired travelers that casually access the Internet or are they surfing the web on their lunch break using mobile phones? What are their pain points and what questions are they asking? All of these factors play into how your site is structured, from building pages that are fast-loading to writing content that appeals to your demographic.
What is your unique selling point? Very few businesses are one of a kind. The key to selling effectively is pinpointing what makes your business unique. What are the reasons your product or service is different or better than your competition? What sets you apart is an important message to get across to your visitor the second they land on your home page.
What pages or content categories do you want to include in your website? Your site architecture should guide visitors along a strategically architected path that provides answers and evidence that your company is the right choice. Define your primary navigation elements in advance so that important information doesn’t get overlooked. You don’t want your online presence to simply validate your existance. It should provide proof of everything true about your brand.
How can you effectively communicate your brand? From large corporations to small business — how you communicate your brand is key. Today’s website is the hub of all marketing activities from social media campaigns to offline advertising so it should set the bar for your brand. If the redesign of your website starts the juices flowing for a rebrand – step back and consider going through the rebrand first so that the website clearly reflects those efforts.
How will you prepare content? If the concept of walking barefoot over hot coals seems more appealing than writing content for your website, then consider a copywriter. The investment saves you time that you can focus on your business and gets you a completed website faster. Well prepared content with solid calls to action will help with search engine optimization. If you plan to do it yourself, break the job up into into manageable milestones and assign an in-house resource whose job it is to get it done. Getting content together is the biggest hold up in the completion of a website.
Can you supply existing marketing collateral, images, photography, logos, etc? Your designer will need your logo in a vector format, particularly an eps file along with photography and any other marketing collateral that you may have. Photography is key on a website especially for an online retailer. If you don’t have the means to hire a photographer then consider stock sources but dig deep and find stock that is unique to your message. If you take your own photography, make sure the images are crisp, well framed and lit correctly. Blurry shots can be a detriment to your brand and selling your product.
What are your keywords? Prepare a list of terms and phrases that you think real people would use to search for your product or service – not just industry terms. These words will help search engines find you and are helpful for your team to know in advance so they can incorporate the keywords into the design, content and structure of your website.
How do you want to interact with your visitor? Do you want people to fill out a contact form or sign up for email marketing? Do you want them to follow you on Twitter or Facebook or subscribe to your blog? Do you want them to donate or purchase a product? If you want the visitor to take action, place these calls to action in key positions on your home page.
How will you keep your site current? The days of set it and forget it are over. People and search engines expect content on websites to be fresh and relevant. If you don’t have time to update a site, work out out a schedule of updates with your team.
When it comes to a website design or redesign – preparation is key.