Exciting, nerve-racking, a watershed moment for any entrepreneur—it’s time to design your company’s website. While it may be easy and tempting to dive in head-first with every idea you have in mind, we say that it's first, most important to establish a strong infrastructure upon which a captivating website can be built. Your website will be an important extension of your business and in many cases, will be the most vital touch point between you and your customers. This is why we recommend laying a solid foundation of its function, audience, goals, and scope before the design process even begins.
What's the Goal?
That is, what will your website exist to serve? Is it to produce direct sales? Generate leads? Grow a community through content? Whatever it is, identify it first and so that every facet of your website can be fixated towards fulfilling that goal.
Simpler than it seems it to be able to answer the question of what you want out of your new site. We know you might already have a concrete solution in mind, such as “I want an updated, attractive user interface!” or “I want to build product pages!” but from the perspective of a team of marketers, designers, and developers, we say that it might behoove you to take a step back and first identify the problem. Maybe conversion rates are lower than expected; maybe bounce rates are higher than industry average. Whatever it is, identifying the problem sets the stage for brainstorming a multitude of solutions, perhaps even those better than what you had originally thought up.
Who are you talking to?
Identifying the primary users of your website is another integral step in the pre-development process. You may have a consumer group that you want to target, or think you’re targeting—these would be called your ideal customers—but that may differ greatly from those who you're actually drawing. Try to gain a clear understanding of what makes these two consumer groups different. Once you’ve done that, you and your team can strategize a more formidable path towards bridging the gap between the two. As different people respond to different things, understanding who your customers are will help your developer tailor your website’s look, voice, feel, and function to that specific target customer group.
Here are a few bits of information to have figured out before sitting down with your developer:
- Demographics information (age, gender, geography, income, and education levels)
- Psyhographic (lifestyle, opinions, interests)
- Any existing site metrics through which we can gleam your current situation
- What competitor sites do you like? And who are you trying to beat?
Paint a Picture of Success
Come with a set of quantifiable goals for your developer to aim for. Your greatest interest may be growing your business and increasing its revenue, but there are a ton of other processes that take place behind the scenes that act as barometers for that ultimate success. Maybe you want to see an increase in organic search traffic by a certain percentage. Maybe you want more sign-ups per week to your newsletter through the form on your site. Whatever the goal may be—big or small—communicating them to your development and marketing team not only holds them accountable for wins along the way, but also helps them piece together all the vital components that’ll bring you closer to ultimately making your business better.
Having concrete examples of your site’s new look and sound will help both you and your developer gain a clearer sense of your vision. Collect a few websites that you admire and more importantly, think about what makes them great. Drawing from these inspirations helps your designer gain a clearer understanding of what you want for your website and how to get there.
Money and Milestones
Figuring out the scope of your project from the beginning can help you and your team avoid any misunderstandings along the way. Nothing is worse than having goals, deadlines, or budgets be up in the air. While the end goal of the project may be clear, providing some key milestones to be reached at specific points along the timeline of the project benefits both you and your team. This provides for consistent status updates, opportunities for conversations, and the opportunity to identify problem areas right as they occur.
When embarking on a redesign project for your company’s website, the toughest question may have could be “Where do I even start?” Your website is a manifestation of the vision you have for your company so we understand the importance of getting it just right. Figuring out these essential components before starting on the design process makes it a whole lot easier to get to that end result.