Is your current website underperforming?
With how quickly websites have changed in even the past five years, there’s a good chance it is. You might even be ready to jump headlong in to a full website redesign. However, a pretty site with poorly thought out structure or content can still fail to meet your goals. There are a few things you can do before starting this process to make your future website work for you.
1. Find some inspiration.
Take some time to find websites that you like, and then jot down what specifically attracts you to each one. Look at sites you've recently bought something from or interacted with to get ideas. What about that site made you confident enough to make a purchase or contact them?
Visit your competitors' websites to see how they're positioning themselves. Realize that their strategies may also have flaws, but look for ways they might be connecting with customers effectively.
Share these sites and your thoughts with the company you partner with to design your new site.
2. Be honest about what’s not working.
There are probably some specific reasons that your current website isn’t getting you the number of sales or customers you want. It’s important to really dig into what the problems are so that you know what needs to be fixed on the new site. There might be several graphic or layout elements that definitely need updating, but also look more deeply to find structural or content issues. Is the navigation too confusing or overwhelming with too many choices? Are you using too much jargon or industry terminology that confuses your customers?
It might help to get an outsider's opinion about these things. This might be your 100th time looking at your own site, so having someone with a fresh perspective go through your site could be very enlightening. Try not to be defensive about issues - you can only fix the problems you're willing to face.
3. Know who your customer is and what’s driving them to buy your product/service.
If you aren’t sure who is buying your product/service and why, then it’s time to find out. It’s easy to make assumptions about this - but until you actually talk to your customers, you may be assuming things that aren’t true. Consider sending out a survey to your past customers to really understand who they are. Talk to your customers on social media (or in person). You might find that a niche group loves your product/service for a reason you hadn’t considered. Once you feel confident that you know who your audience is, you can reach them more effectively using messaging that resonates.
4. Structure your content in a way that addresses the problems your customer is facing.
So many companies make the mistake of making their website all about them. Valuable space is taken up with long paragraphs about company history, awards, and team bios. It’s okay to keep some of this information somewhere on your site, but your main focus in primary navigation and messaging should be putting your customer’s needs first. Think about the problem your customer is trying to solve and the solution your business offers. Addressing what they’re struggling with and showing the benefits of your solution will create a message that pierces through the noise.
Later on, when it comes time to actually write your content, keep it concise. Your customer's time is valuable, so challenge yourself to keep your messaging as clear and concise as possible. A good rule of thumb is to keep it high level on the home page, and then provide ways to drill down into more detail as your customer gets deeper into the site.
5. Decide if this is a good time to update your brand identity as well.
Your website is the most central touchpoint of your company's brand, so a site redesign is a good time to really consider whether your logo, color palette, and brand identity need a facelift. Brand standards help ensure that your company has a consistent visual look across all communications. If you don't have brand standards yet, the company you partner with to design your site should be able to help you create those. If you are happy with your existing logo and branding, that's great - just have your logo (preferably in vector format) and those guidelines ready to pass on to the agency you're working with.
6. Gather high quality images of your products/services.
The old adage "a picture says a thousand words" still rings true. Imagery can communicate much more efficiently than long paragraphs of text, and with the rich visual experiences we've come to expect on the web, it's important than ever to have beautiful, high resolution images of what you're offering your customers. Especially valuable for marketing are images or graphics that show your customer how your services or products are solving their problem. Put together a folder of your images and resources to share with your web designer.
Article's site features some amazing and creative imagery
If you don't have high quality images at the ready, start thinking about whether someone on your team in-house has the skills needed to do this. If not, you can work with your web designer/agency to hire a photographer and get the shots you need.
Okay, I know this sounds like a lot of work - and it is. Coming prepared takes time and effort, but this work leads to customers who connect to your brand instead of tuning out.
Finally, don't feel like you have to have it all the details figured out - these pointers have probably raised some good questions to talk through with your web designer (which is good!). Bringing your goals, questions, and concerns to the table will help them better understand how to knock it out of the park for you and your business. And as always, if you're looking for a company to design your new site, please give us a call or send us a message! We would love to walk with you through this process.