Goal Of This Post: Prevent poor website designs and tell you what you need to do before starting. Sound good? Read on.
So you might be thinking of redesigning your website. When starting to think about a redesign for an existing website or a design for an entirely new website I’ve found a pattern to what most business owners do. It’s not necessarily wrong but there is a much, much better way to do it.
The biggest mistake I see?
Too often I see businesses jump right into evaluating websites in their same space before doing the work of identifying what their websites want to accomplish, determining their goals and weighing their audiences.
Here is the trap I see businesses falling into:
Decides it’s time for a new website
Starts looking at competitors in their space to see what their websites look like
Picking out elements of each that they want
Finding a website designer to work with
Trying to mishmash a website together that really is a combination of 5 others
Why is this a problem?
Well put simply, no other brand’s website will work for you.
You shouldn’t want any other business’s website. The reason being, you don’t have the same brand values, mission, exact same customer base (hopefully not or we should work on your differentiation and audience profiles!) and you aren’t providing the exact same solution - whether that is a product or service.
Your business is inherently different. Embrace it.
So what to do instead?
Well, that depends but I have a process I work through with clients and have outlined it below.
Identify Your Goals
Identify your overall goals from you big ones like “sell X product” all the way to the smaller ones like “build attention with our audience group that is 18-24 and has X interest”. Then rank these based on importance and future business goals. This is vital to building a website that is not only designed to support you today but built for future growth. Most of the time businesses don’t dig deep enough during this part. Most tend to focus on the “conversion” part of the buyer’s journey (which is no longer linear!) and forget or don’t focus on the build up stages nor advocacy. These portions are vital to growing your business, especially organically.
Identify Your Audiences
Yes, there are multiple even if you have “an ideal customer profile”. Typically most small businesses are catering to 2-4 audiences at any given time. Dig deep into who these people are. No, you don’t need to create concrete avatars (those can be cheesy) but knowing a vital details such as how they do their research (such as: are they social, look for opinions, fact based, etc) is crucial to your success.
Research Your Audience
Once you’ve identified your audiences it’s time to do your research. This is easier if you have an existing website and analytics. You can deep dive into what your current website and digital channels are telling you is currently going on. Are you really resonating with the people you want to? It can be opening to see what your data really says is happening. Embrace it, this gives us the framework to know what should be different or kept similar in your redesign!
Determine your Call-To-Actions
No, it’s not as simple as “subscribe” to your email. Call-to-actions include something as small as internal linking. This is where you set up the pathways your want each audience group to take. So if someone enters on your blog post page, where do you want them to go next? How do we weave the content together in ways that are subtle enough that they are aware that they are following a path you created but don’t mind because you are being so useful to them they want to be a part of your brand.
Evaluate & Create Your Content
Content isn’t just the blog articles, videos and visual content you create. It’s the copy on every page, the call to actions and everything in between. Since you’ve researched what is resonating with your audiences (and what’s not) it’s time to create and curate content that will gain and hold your audience’s attention. This is vital to growing the amount of people in your awareness through consideration stages.
Layout Your Pathways
I’ve seen it numerous times when people start with the navigation and maybe a wireframe (which is an ok start) but as we talked about pathways earlier it’s nearly impossible to account for all of the pages and content without all of the above work. It’s best to start at the end and work backwards.
If you aren’t designing with a mobile first mentality you are behind - and no, I don’t mean responsive. What changes when people are accessing your website via their phone? Their behavior. This is the massive game changer when designing a mobile website. People’s behavior entirely changes on their phone and you need to take mobile habits into account when determining the pathways you create in #6. Adding in the devices to your audience research and content plans is also vital.
Did I overwhelm you? I hope not! I help businesses through this process to deliver all of this to a designer before beginning your website design. Trust me, they will love you if you start your project with this laid out.
Remember, people aren’t users. People are people.
We are always changing and evolving so you’re website isn’t a stagnant being. You need to grow and also know how people are growing.
This is where I help businesses in strategic planning. It can be hard to know changing consumer habits when you’re knee deep in your business. I work really hard to study buyer habits, the psychology behind why people do what they do with the goal to always be innovating new ways to facilitate their new habits.
What are your thoughts? Agree or disagree? I want to know!