You're getting a new website? Congratulations! I bet you're excited to bring your brand into the current year and rake in all the new leads you can manage. But, before you can get to the celebration part, you gotta get through the tough parts ... building your new site.
If you are working with an agency (like JH Specialty, of course) you'll have a team of designers, developers, an Account Manager and a Project Manager leading you along this journey. You won't be alone. We're all here for the party; we do love a good launch party. However, even with an amazing team to back you up and support you along the way, we see a lot of clients fall into the same website pitfalls on every project. Don't let your new website falter before it's even off the launch pad.
Arguably the most important part of the new website are the words. Most people can talk for hours about their business, but when it comes to putting pen to paper or shall I say fingers to keyboard ... that's when things tend to fall apart.
Here's how this conversation usually to goes:
Me: Can you write 12 pages about your offerings and obtain customer testimonials?
Customer: No problem! That's easy.
3 months later ...
Me: So uh, how's the content writing going for the new site?
Customer: Oh man, this is a lot harder than I thought.
Big problem. Even at a measly 200 words per page, you are looking at 2,400 words on top of reaching out to your existing customers to request them to say nice things about you. Let's face it, if you had enough time to do all of that on top of your regular job you'd probably spend it making more sales or engaging with your customers.
Describing your products, service or what you have to offer to your audience is key. Just because you are the subject matter expert doesn't mean you are the right person to write your website copy. That doesn't make you a failure.
JH works with a number of internal and external copy writers that can spend 30-60 minutes on the phone or in person with you to ask the right questions to learn about your business. So let the person with the love of words do the hard part for you. You'll thank me later.
For some, the words are easy ... but photography is another pitfall to avoid. Remember, a picture says a thousand words. This is why selecting good imagery for your website is so important. Clear, engaging photography can totally change the look of your website and either pull in a visitor or immediately make them hit the X.
I'm just going to get this out of the way first ... if you did a photo shoot in the early 2000s those photos probably aren't going to work for your new website. Not only has your product or customer base evolved since then, but photography quality has also evolved. Sorry Bob, those flip phone photos of that really cool job aren't making the cut.
Make the decision early on to hire a photographer (we have a variety of photo friends to recommend!) or use stock photography. If you think stock photography is right for you, I'd recommend reading this blog post all about how to choose the right photos.
The content and photos have come together, the site is ready to go! Time to celebrate.
The last pitfall that tends to pop up is more technical in nature. Your domain and DNS controls. In order to tell the internet your new website is now over here and not over there, we have to update your DNS or domain name system.
But I don't know where my DNS is at? I don't even know what this means? I paid a guy once to set up my email, maybe he knows?
Typically, obtaining access for these controls is handled at the beginning of a project, but there are times when tracking down who has the right username and password can take as long as the website build itself. The last thing you want is to have an amazing new site and not be able to show it to anyone.
This is always one of the first homework assignments you'll have if you don't know where or how your domain is managed today. We've seen some pretty crazy stuff when it comes to getting access to the technical side of things, so most likely your set-up isn't anything we haven't seen before. Your team is here to help as much as possible, but many times this piece of the puzzle has to be solved by the customer.
So let's recap ...
- Ask for help with the content on your website by using a copywriter
- Decide early on if you want to hire a photographer or use stock photography
- Know how your domain is controlled and how to access those controls
If you've got these items down, there's a good chance your new website is set for success. Now bring on the launch party!