Creating a new website can make a meaningful difference in your marketing efforts. But you may have other equally important and urgent to-dos on your task list (not to mention you’re likely not a copywriter, designer, front-end developer, programmer and SEO expert all wrapped into one unicorn-of-a-person). Whether you work at a startup and are creating a website from scratch or refreshing your existing website to improve your messaging, visitor experience and/or conversion rates, here is a list of things to consider.
Bonus: This list of considerations may also help you take the first step and get the website party started.
This is not a “Websites for Website’s Sake” Situation
Unless you are an artist, ars gratia artis is likely not a good enough reason to spend valuable time and money on creating a new site.
You’ll want to first know and articulate the Why behind your website, the users you’re trying to reach, and your goals for when they get there.
Being able to articulate this will not only help you get buy-in on this project but will also help you measure the success of the new site and continue iterating on your content and marketing efforts from there.
You’ll want to dig into your Google Analytics to understand how your site is performing now. You’ll want to understand visitor trends, bounce rates, exit pages, number of pages visited, traffic sources, time on page, whether visitors are taking the right actions (filling out forms, taking a demo, watching a video, etc.) or the wrong actions (such as asking questions of your team instead of finding the information on your site), are you reaching the right audience or an unintended audience, and more. The data will point you in the right direction.
Essentially, you’ll want to understand your areas of opportunity.
Another reason to revamp your site – though not usually the catalyst – is if your current content management system (CMS) is too unwieldy for your team to manage. Is it inflexible with your current and future needs and growth? Is it too time-consuming and expensive to make even minor changes? Is your CMS too difficult to use or buggy?
It’s imperative that your site provide your ideal customers with the right information and next steps at the right time but it’s also important that it’s manageable for the marketer who owns the site.
Get Stakeholders on Board
Now that you have the data and Why behind a new website, find your key stakeholders. Having them on board from the start and allowing them to provide input in areas where they feel strongest will help you be successful in this project and limit speed bumps.
Here are some guiding questions:
- Who is the key stakeholder (the person with the final decision-making power)?
- Who owns or approves the budget for this? (This may or may not be the same person as the key stakeholder.)
- What factors are essential to them – to help you achieve your project “yes” as well as to ensure the project achieves their goals as well.
- Who else should have a say along the way? Although they may not be the ultimate decision-maker nor the project owner, there will be others who are invested in your website – such as your head of sales – who may want to be able to provide their thoughts and stamp of approval along the way. Once you’ve identified them, plan out what areas are important to them in order to get feedback in advance and at appropriate milestones. Some may only be interested in the design. Others may be interested in messaging or certain functionality.
Finding the Right Website Agency
Unless you’re the aforementioned unicorn (spoiler: that person doesn’t exist) or your company already has ample internal resources (congrats!), you’ll want to work with the right website agency.
But where to start? Ask your network for agencies they’ve worked with and recommend. Once you have a list, you’ll want to ask for references and samples to ensure you’re finding the right fit for you – you should request these from any agency you work with.
It’s also worth ensuring the agency is able to understand your business and your needs. Have they worked with organizations and industries similar to yours?
What’s their process? What can they do for you? What will you be responsible for? Does that fit within your expertise and expectations? What is the project timeline? How does this all align with your project needs?
And what else can they do that you may need help with now or later? This may include branding, SEO, paid media and more. Are they able to help with other work that fits into your broader organizational goals?
And when you first engage with them (but before you sign a contract), do they ask the right questions to understand your site and content? They should ask questions about your audiences, your overall goals, your technology requirements, your content needs (PDFs, videos, podcasts, gifs, reports, blogs, case studies, testimonials, etc.), functionality requirements, and they should be able to make suggestions for new or improved tools.
There is so much to consider before you even get started on a website project. But the outcomes and the process to get there will be easier if you know the answers to these questions and do a little leg work to find the right agency partner for your project.
Have questions about this? Want to chat about your next project? Hit us up!