So you’d like to update your web design or create one from scratch? The task ahead of you is time consuming. The middle is messy. And the end result, if not properly planned, can leave you feeling underwhelmed. I’d like to share some tips with you I’ve learned over time that can help setup your website for success right from the start.
1. The first and most important task is defining your goals for the website.
It could be that you’d like to generate new leads, target and attract a specific audience that you haven’t been able to reach, or maybe it’s an informative marketing tool that will save you time and money. Write out your desired outcome for how this site update or launch will aid your business goals and make your job easier. Websites are versatile and multi-faceted tools that will grow and change over time and therefore will continue to help you achieve your goals.
2. What basic or complex functions could your site include that will make your business run smoother?
This answer should reveal itself through defining your goals. I have many different types of customers that are all achieving a variety of goals through their site designs. Let me run you through a few examples that may help you come up with your own list:
• Defining a process or service visually to use as a sales or marketing tool
• Creating a map of locations that include where your products can be found
• Growing your email list through offering free tools and resources
• Creating a form that allows your customers to give you all of the information needed to generate an estimate
• Display your portfolio of work in an interactive and user-friendly way
• Creating a resource archive that customers have access to so that you only have to share information one time
I could keep going but the possibilities are endless so I’ll let you use your imagination.
3. How are you going to point your potential viewers, customers, clients, colleagues, buyers, friends, etc. to your site?
Whether your site is an informative resource or a storefront, part of the goal is to have viewers on the site. This could be your number one reason for developing a site in the first place. Honing in on your target audience will help you define an SEO strategy and develop a plan that ensures your site has visitors. You can have the most beautifully designed website but if you aren’t aware of how to integrate an SEO strategy, before you structure your content and design, you may miss out on big opportunities. For tips on improving your SEO starting today click here.
4. Content will drive the design.
By now you have a clear picture of what the major goal of your website is, what basic or complex functions you’d like it to perform, and a rough idea of your target audience. It’s time to gather your content. A web designer or developer can help you through this process or you can gather some resources in advance. Start by creating an outline that includes your mission, values, product or services, body copy from your current marketing materials, brand elements, style guide, logo versions, and other brand resources. Having this all in one location will speed up the process and give your designer a head start on understanding your brand. For more information on gathering your site content click here.
5. Last but not least let’s dive into the web design.
This step is a process within itself but it should begin with wireframes. Once you are clear on steps 1-4 the goal of your designer should be to take all of that information and implement it into a user-friendly experience for your target audience. The best way to do this is to visualize the entire site through wireframes. This way you are thinking through the web of possibilities before you set anything into stone. Also, you create a visual guide for gathering content and building out the entire site. This saves you time and money in the long run and allows you to create a doable action plan from the start.