So you’re thinking you need a website or your current website needs a refresh?
Your first thought may be to start researching website designers. But, what if the core issue with your website isn’t the design?
What if it’s the structure?
What if it’s the content?
I can’t count the number of times I wish I had reached a small business owner before they started working with a website designer on two hands.
Before we go on let me preface this post with this fact: website designers are amazing and talented creatives but it’s not their job to know what your website needs to do or how it needs to be built in order to achieve your business goals.
Recently I was lucky enough to start working with another great client. In our initial conversations we decided she was in need of a content strategy, brand presence strategy and complementing social presence.
Ok, let’s dig right in!
Then I visited the website (which was a work in progress) and was very surprised. The content and structure didn’t match what I expected based on the goals the business wanted to achieve which led to backtracking, reorganizing the content (more work for the client too) and a delayed launch.
A much happier, excited and more confident client and a website that has a greater chance for success.
Below I’ve outlined the steps most small business owners should work through prior to working with a designer. When you provide a designer a clear vision and foundation to work with is when the magic happens.
Outline your website goals.
Sounds obvious right? No, I’m not talking the vague statement “I want email sign-ups” because you heard you should. I’m talking concrete, revenue generating goals.
Below are a few examples.
Ecommerce Product Website - have you established the clear sales funnels for each product? How many landing pages, retargeting ads and follow up emails will each funnel have? Will those need specific call outs throughout your website pages?
Content Website - This is a website that has no tangible product but instead the editorial content is their product (I’m looking at you bloggers, media and news websites). Have you built your website structure in a way that best supports SEO and search engine crawlers? Since content is your product this should be a high consideration.
A website is never complete.
You may have a launch day but on day 30, 60 and 90 there should be an evaluation period. What’s working? What isn’t? If you are contemplating redesigning your website know the elements that are currently working for you.
With so many tools available it can be easy to see what content on your website is being read, the links clicked and more. These time periods allow for enough data to be gathered you can make sound conclusions. Below are a few of my favorite tools for website analysis.
Crazy Egg - This tool makes it so easy to quickly see a visual of what content your visitors are digesting and what links they are clicking. Many times links and click-through rates don’t tell the whole story. Your link could be fantastic but if it’s not placed in the highest viewed area on a page the chance it’s getting clicked is pretty low!
You can see my example below.
Google Analytics Page Extension - This is an amazing time saver. When I want quick information on a website it populates the data on the page (aka you don’t need to physically dive into GA - YES!). This is great if you are also someone who doesn’t quite know the ins and outs of Google Analytics yet.
Google Experiments - Your website is a tool to accomplish your goals. Did you know that Google has a (free!) tool that allows you to rotate your content and placement on your website in order to test the layouts that get the highest goal completion rates? For someone that is always testing and validating changes this is the best tool ever.
Know Visitor Entrance Points
Did you know that most of your website visitors will not enter through the homepage?
Wait, am I telling you that all of that beautiful content telling visitors how awesome you are and how great your product is will be missed? Yes.
Which is ok! This situation is actually fantastic as long as your website has been built knowing this ahead of time. For example, when a user visits your website through a blog post first they are in the validation stage. The user is evaluating if they want to continue clicking through your site.
Have you designed your page in a way that funnels your new visitors to the page you want them to visit next?
Are you providing too many options?
When you design a clear path with your most prioritized options is when your goals become active. Your newsletter growth happens. Your social follows happen. Products are purchased.
Work With A Strategist
A digital strategist is trained and lives and breathes optimizing websites and digital presence. I highly recommend this step when creating websites. It saves you, the small business owner, precious time, money and stress. I truly believe it is invaluable to have your website work from day 1, not day 273.
Strategists specialize in seeing patterns in:
Identifying the consumer journey through your website
Identifying opportunities to capture data and lead generation information
Increasing internal and external linking
I get to help small business owners every day optimize their website to achieve their goals and generate revenue.