SET YOUR GOALS
1. What are our goals for this website?
Typically one of the primary reasons to embark on a website redesign is because your current site may not be performing as well as you'd like it to. Of course, there are ways to fix that without a complete redesign, but since you've already determined that course of action, we'll save that path for another article.
So if your site isn't living up to its expectations, what can you do to improve it? What ARE your expectations? Think about how your website fits into your sales and marketing strategy. If you have an existing goal of increasing qualified leads by 10%, consider how the new website will assist with achieving said goal. Make sure the goals you set are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time senstitive.
Other examples of goals include:
- Attract X unique visitors per month
- Increase organic traffic by 10% in the next 12 months
- Convert X visitors into leads this quarter
DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE
2. Who is our target audience?
This is a big one, and hopefully one that your company already has an answer to: who the heck are you trying to reach? And don't say "everyone!" because that is impossible. Every organization on this planet has a target audience, a niche group of people or industries that they cater to. These are known as buyer personas. Your website needs to communicate with your buyer personas in language they can understand and relate to.
If you organization doesn't have a clue as to who they are trying to reach, you should stop reading right now and make this a priority. While this may be forgiveable for awhile if you're a startup, an established organization has no excuse as to why they can't identify their market, or buyer persona(s).
3. Where is our target audience they located?
Once you've established who your buyer personas are, it's time to find out where they hang out. Your target audience is sort of like your in-crowd, and you need to be the next cool kid to infiltrate their circle. There's no better way to do that than to find where they congregate online, learn what they search for, and communicate with them in ways that relate to their circle or culture.
It's very possible you've already done some of this research just by putting together your buyer personas and defining who they are. Details that you established in their fictious profiles should give you some indication as to where you can find them.
Some examples may include:
- If your audience is a younger crowd in their 20s or 30s, you might want to start by building a qualified following on Facebook or Twitter.
- If your audience tends to do quite a bit of research via search engines, you should consider working on your organic SEO strategy or propose using paid search (AdWords).
- If your audience tends to use their phones or tablets to browse for products or services that are similar to those you offer, make sure to focus on incorporating a mobile friendly experience into your website.
4. What is the launch timeline? How soon do we need it?
The traditional website redesign project can last from anywhere between 3 months and 1 year, depending on all the variables and stakeholders involved. I hate to admit, but I've seen projects on both ends of that timeframe, and it's awful. Fetal position and weep anyone?
Until maybe 6-12 months ago, this was the only way people knew how to execute a website project. Now, with the recent rise of Growth Driven Design, initial websites can be released as early as 30-45 days and improved upon over time.
For organizations that need a website fast and understand that it should and can be a living and breathing piece of your marketing that is constantly changing and growing, this is the best route. Even if your site isn't expected to be up right away, this is still the preferred way to approach your next redesign. Heck, you'll certainly impress upper management by launching a site way ahead of schedule! :)
5. What does our current sales cycle consist of and how can the website improve it?
A pretty website that doesn't contribute to your sales objectives is as useful as a painting in an art museum. Sure it's nice to look at, but it doesn't really do anything. It just hangs there.
When planning your new site, be sure to include key sales staff to determine how the site can contribute to their department goals, overall strategy and sales funnel. If your organization currently doesn't have a well-documented sales cycle, now might be a good time to put one together(or just improve your existing one). It will make it that much easier to ensure that the new site has purpose and can help contribute to the bottom line.
6. How much of your resources can be allocated?
This question sort of ties back to the launch timeline question in #4. If you have all the resources in the world and you are able to provide unlimited people, time and materials to the success of the website, then why the hell are you reading this article? Get out of here and make some magic for the next year!
But if you're like most companies, chances are you can only allocate so many resources to a new project when their are other projects that actually generate revenue. Since you have these constraints, a process like Growth Driven Design is probably something that is going to be quite attractive in terms of what your limited team can accomplish and how it can still create a great website that's both beautiful and functional.
7. What are our competitors doing?
Unless you are an all-knowing being, and I commend you if you are, then you probably aren't always aware of what your competitors are doing in your space. To remedy this, go ahead and type your product(s) or service(s) into Google and find out how they are positioning themselves, how it's affecting their current rankings, likes and dislikes about their websites, and if you can take any cues from their content, marketing and design approaches.
8. What is our budget?
This could be a biggie! Do we have money for this?! GASP!
But seriously folks, it is critical to have a budget in place before starting down the path of enlightening your website. A budget that you stick to will help you define a realistic timeline and prioritize your goals.
Again, a reference back to #4 (and #6). Traditional web design projects tend to go over budget and off schedule. A great alternative to making sure your project stays on time, on budget and on schedule is to look into a process such as Growth Driven Design.
ASSET YOUR MARKETING
9. Are we prepared for the "Post Redesign Search Dip"?
After your site launches, you may notice your current search rankings take a hit. Don't worry, this isn't anything out of the ordinary. In fact, it's pretty much unavoidable. Any new website needs to get re-indexed by the search engines, and if they don't recognize your new digs right away, they may knock you down a few (or several) pegs on the search result pages.
Once they realize it's still you, your rankings should recover so you are able to then see if things improve or get worse. After that recovery, you can then begin the ongoing process of analyzing and applying regular improvements.
10. How will the site complement our inbound strategy?
This is similar to #5, but instead of sales, be sure the site also is a major player in your inbound marketing strategy. In all cases, your website is the central piece of your digital marketing plan and should be among the most important assets to focus on.
If your website is just a pretty face with no active role in your marketing strategy, it's useless. Is your site drawing traffic? Converting traffic into leads? Nurturing leads? Converting leads into customers? If you've answered "no" to any of these, be sure to dedicate enough time to making sure your website starts to pull its marketing weight.
11. What are we trying to communicate via the site?
A website redesign is an excellent time to ensure that your company is clearly communicating with your potential and existing customers. What sets you apart from your competitors and other businesses with similar offerings? Does your site clearly convey your company's value proposition and other positioning statements?
It's also a great time to make sure that your site addresses questions or concerns that may be acting as barriers to make a purchase decision. Include customers and sales staff in this process to make sure common questions and details are being covered to help make the transition from prospect to customer as seamless and as confident as possible.
12. What action(s) do we want our visitors to take?
Any page on your site, homepage, interior page, landing page, or blog article, should consist of only one call to action. Each page needs to have a specific topic and a specific purpose. If you give too many ways to engage, you run the risk of creating the illusion of choice and confusing your visitors. At that point, they're bound to not take any action and just leave. Oh no!
In addition to having the right type of engagement (call to action) on each page, the content you provide on that page should help lead your visitors to take the desired action.
There are a lot of different things to consider right after you decide to make the plunge into a website design project. It's best to know what you're getting into before you get in over your head.
Is there something we overlooked in this article? Something you agree or disagree with? Share your thoughts in the comments. HUGS.