Congratulations, you have decided that its time for a new website. You want a site that will better promote your business, is aligned to your brand, and will bring in more leads. So you contact a website design company. But then they start asking you all these questions, things that you haven’t considered.
- How would you describe your brand?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- What is the main focus of your website?
- What do you want to achieve through your site?
What you learn is that there is more to a new site than updating your design. (If the web design companies you’re meeting with aren’t asking these questions, time to cast your net wider and find others to speak with.)
Getting the site that you want comes down to being able to brief a web design company. There are five key challenges that you need to solve when it comes to a new website:
1. Don’t Make it Just About Design
The design that you choose needs to serve the information you want to communicate, not the other way around. For example, many companies have sites that look like they have many pages. But when you start clicking, you find the links jump to specific content within the same page.
While this is a compact approach, there is often a lack of information in order to make the page shorter. Offering the option to read more for those interested makes sense. Why limit your content just to fit in with a specific design?
2. What Are You Trying to Achieve with Your Site?
Being aware of exactly what you’re trying to achieve with your site is an important first step when it comes to briefing a designer. Is the aim to inform prospects before they contact you? Is it to make sales? Or maybe you’re looking to get partners or attract media attention?
Perhaps you want to do all these things. What is the top priority? Make your site about achieving that while still making it easy for users to find other information.
3. Focus on Products or Customers?
Most websites focus on what they are offering rather than putting themselves in the mindset of their customers. What is your customer trying to achieve that you can help them with?
For example, let’s say that you offer coaching for executives. On your site, you could link to ‘Executive Coaching’, which is an overused phrase. Or you could link to ‘Being an Effective Leader’. The first label is generic, the second is about an outcome.
4. How are You Going to Say It?
Words are as important as design. A common mistake that many site owners make is spending all the budget on design and ignoring or ‘making do’ with the content. That’s where copywriters come in.
Being clear about what you’re trying to say and expressing it in a succinct way is what copywriters are for. Copywriting can look like a simple task because what comes back is easy to read and appears ‘obvious’. But getting clarity through writing is a process that can take many hours of refinement. It involves distilling and clarifying to come up with the essence of what you’re trying to say.
5. How Will You Make It Easy for Customers?
This is about creating a site that makes it easier for your customers and prospects to navigate and use. This could be things like having:
- As few steps as possible to complete a sale
- Links to related material so your users can follow a logical train of thought
- More than one way to contact you
- Providing clear actions for taking the next step
- FAQ page that is updated often
Putting in some thought to the above before you finalize your design brief will result in a better outcome for your business. There is less likely to be any budget variations and time frame extensions. You’re also more likely to be happier with the end result.
About the Author
Jill Brennan is a marketing consultant and Founder of Harbren Marketing.