So You Want a New Website? Review These 5 Steps First


- Lance Johnson 01.06.2016

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Many businesses fail to estimate the true worth of their websites, as the pages creating your brand’s online presence are vital for your business. Forrester Research reports that $1.1 trillion of all retail sales were influenced by the web. eMarketer also revealed that 86.6% of U.S. SMBs believe websites to be their most important digital marketing tactic. In the infographic titled ‘Why Good Website Design is So Important: The Stats and Figures to Prove’, InstantShift pointed out that 94% of people said that they trust a business based on its web design. With so much relying on your website, the last thing you need is a mediocre online placeholder.

What you need is a new web site.

As this is a considerable investment that demands your time and money, you may want to analyze your site first and determine whether or not it’s displaying signs of aging . Once you’re certain that your current web presence isn’t able to achieve your brand’s goals, it’s time for you to get a new site. The following five steps will give you an idea of what you’re up against.

Step #1: Understand the Factors of Developing a New Site

Knowing that you need a new site is the easy part. You’ll need to take into consideration the following factors before delving into the never-ending whirlwind that is web development.

  1. Amount of Work – Web design and development are expensive services, and rightly so considering the large amount of work required for even the simplest of sites. First, the professionals need to uncover your business’ needs, brand message, and marketing strategy to decide the purpose and overall theme of the website. Therefore, be prepared to provide them with the answers and content they’ll need to start.
  2. Relations – Most small businesses try cutting costs by entrusting web development and design to family members or friends with good know-how of creating websites. What makes their offer so tempting is the fact that they’ll be willing to do this for free or super cheap. Unfortunately, you’re compromising on professionalism since this isn’t their full-time job. Moreover, providing criticism or feedback may affect your relationship beyond the workplace. Always hire a professional to avoid risking the reputation of your brand.
  3. Maintenance – You need to be prepared for the ongoing cost of maintenance. And you can’t avoid this because website building tools, especially those which come with a CMS platform like WordPress or Drupal, regularly update and upgrade their plug-ins, themes, and templates. So be prepared to spend $300-$500 a year on a professional who will keep your site up to date and relevant to its visitors.
  4. Planning – You need to have a good grasp of your target market/key audience. You also need to learn who your competitors are and how they’re getting ahead of you. If you aren’t aware of these aspects, or what your unique selling point is, you’ll need to step back to reassess your business before creating a new site. Nothing can frustrate developers, and even you yourself, as much as struggling to understand the ABCs of a business. You’ll need to learn these beforehand as your website is a communication tool. In addition to formulating your business plan, you need to establish a robust marketing plan. Your new site will play an integral part in it, so decide how you want to proceed before getting started.
  5. Cost – The cost of your website matters a lot. Now don’t expect it to be too small, especially if you’re planning on developing a responsive, mobile-friendly site that dynamically changes and expands. Just remember that your site is what represents you in cyberspace, so make sure its representation is accurate.

Step #2: Audit Your Current Site

If this is your first time creating a site altogether, you can skip this step. On the other hand, if you have a site already, you can check it to see if you can salvage a few things. First off, assess the current design:

  • Is the design outdated?
  • Is your homepage static and lacking information? Does it explain what your business offers?
  • Do you think the design can engage and entice users to explore the site further?
  • Is the design clean, attractive and modern?

The best designs are visually engaging, easy to navigate, and capable of ensuring better conversions and ROI. On the other hand, dated sites can easily make your clients believe that you’re behind the times, driving them and your site’s visitors to your competitors’ more modern website.

After the design, delve deeper into the technologies used to develop your site. Ask:

  • Does the site work well on mobile devices?
  • Is there a flash element on the site?
  • Does the site take a long time to load?
  • Can you edit content yourself or will you need to hire a developer every time?
  • Does the site have a content management system (CMS)? Is it up to date?

Today’s websites are responsive since most Internet users change devices while researching online. And in case you’re wondering, flash is an outdated web technology that is far from mobile friendly. This means it can chase away your clients rather than keep them on your site. Similarly, slow loading websites are bound to make visitors bounce off your site and onto your competitors’. Finally, having a CMS allows you keep your content up to date while installing the latest version protects you from hackers trying to exploit gaps in your software’s security.

With this information in hand, you’ll be able to decide how you want to proceed. For instance, if your site is responsive but taking too much time to load, you can ask the developer to optimize your site further to improve its load time. As you discuss what your site lacks, the developer and designer will jot down what’s missing and create a prototype accordingly.

Step #3: Get Fresh Content

Your site’s content is as important as designing and building it. Therefore, spend some time on creating informative and engaging text. Chances are that you haven’t touched the content since creating your site several years ago. Now’s the time for a change, one that would actually wow your clients and keep visitors flowing through your doors. A copywriter can help you make your content less passive and more directed towards your visitors. He or she can also create proactive content that includes calls-to-action, which your visitors are more likely to heed.

Step #4: Optimize the Site and its Content for Search Engines

Since you’re already working on your site, why not give it a much-needed SEO boost? By tweaking your site according to the latest SEO rules and in anticipation for upcoming trends, you can easily maximize your business’ visibility and get search engines to direct traffic your way. However, SEO goes beyond a few keywords and key terms. A lot of practices are related to web development and design, maximizing the benefits of all three practices. Just remember to include Google Analytics to monitor the performance of your site and how much ROI you’re reaping from the new changes.

Step #5: Beta Test Your Site

Alpha tests are conducted by the development team to ensure that everything is working as planned. However, it’s your responsibility to beta test the website, i.e. determine if the look, feel, and function are what you were expecting. With the developers, you’ll be entrusted with running a small-scale test of both the content and functionality of the site. The test can also include stakeholders within your organization or even a sampling of customers, all of which will check the site’s user experience.

Once you approve everything, you’ll have a brand new, modern, and highly effective website that you’ll love having your brand associated with. So direct your browser to your site right away and see if it’s time to get a new one started.

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