A new website project for your company can be a daunting task to think about. Whether you are updating your existing site, it seems like there are so many things to consider, you may not even know where to start. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here is a quick checklist to get you thinking about the things that have the most impact.
Have specific goals for your new site.
What does the site need to accomplish? Does it need to capture sales leads? Collect money for a subscription? Get the user to pick up the phone and call you? Or simply legitimize your company in the eyes of its users? Whatever those goals are, be sure to document them before you begin anything else. This will inform the planning, design and construction of your new site and will help you to budget how much time and money need to go into it as well.
Select and purchase a domain name.
This one seems simple and straightforward, but if you don’t already have a domain name it could be difficult to get the one you really want. .COM addresses aren’t easy to come by these days so be prepared with a few backup choices. If someone already owns the domain you really want, don’t despair. They may be willing to part with it for a price. Find out how to contact them and make them an offer.
Create a site map
Your site map outlines what pages and functionality will be present on your new site. This plan for your site should be constructed with the objective of fulfilling the goals you’ve come up with. Often, it’s good to practice restraint when thinking about the pages and functionality of your site. A big flashy interactive piece might look really cool, but does it get you any closer to accomplishing your goals? If the answer is no, then it could just be a very expensive and time consuming distraction. A simple approach that guides your users to the goal is usually the best plan.
This is the most important, and maybe the most difficult part of your new site. Without the right content, your site is pretty much useless. Plan your content well in advance of starting your project.
“Less is more”. I know it’s a cliché, but when it comes to website copy, this is a stone-cold fact. Website users aren’t going to read a novel on your site, so the best strategy is to hit them with small snippets of text that address their concerns and objections. Engaging headlines, compelling calls-to-action, bullet-points, and pull quote boxes are all great ways to make your copy more interesting and effective.
If you have a point that needs a lot of explaining, try using an info-graphic or a short video instead of text.
Again, all of your content should be written with your goals in mind. Is what is written pushing your users in the direction you want them to go?
Design your website and user experience
Your website should take your potential customers by the hand and lead them exactly where they want to go and where you want them to be. Don’t give them too many options. A single, clear call to action will be much more effective than a slew of options that have the potential of confusing your potential customers and keeping them from the information they need.
Keep your navigation clear and easy to understand. 9 times out of 10, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. It usually just makes it more difficult for your users to perform the action you need them to.
This is not to say that your site design cannot or should not be unique or beautiful. It should be both of those things, but design should always serve the goals of the site.
Marketing and social media
Needless to say, your website is useless if no one goes there. Inbound marketing and social media play a critical and absolutely essential role in the success of your website. It is no longer an option for a business to forego a social media presence. If your online presence doesn’t include the key social media channels, you will be missing out on a huge number of sales and revenue. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn…all of these channels need to be working together to produce a clear and cohesive message that fulfills your sales goals.
Inbound marketing, paid social ads, and paid search ads are also vital vehicles for driving traffic to your site. These methods focus not only on quantity of users on your site, but quality of those users. An experienced marketer is able to identify and target the best potential leads and get them to your site, where they have the best possible change of being converted to a customer.
Have a plan in place to receive reports about your website’s performance. How is your traffic? Is it the type of traffic you want? Are people engaging with your site or are they bouncing too quickly? These are all essential questions that need to get answered so you can continue to refine your site to accomplish your goals.
Ongoing support and site improvements
As soon as your site launches, it’s out of date. A quality Content Management System is a key ingredient to your site. This will allow your team to login and make content changes on the fly without having to call up your web developer every time you need a word changed or a picture added.
An ongoing support package from your web design and development agency which includes development hours for future improvements and enhancements is also a good idea. Keeping your site fresh and up to date will increase it lifespan significantly, so you don’t have to go through the time and expense of launching a brand new one every few years.
If you go into your project having thought about all these things, you’ll be ahead of the curve and ready to tackle your new website.