Before diving into this article check out my recent article about website updates.
Making a decision to scrap your current website and start from scratch is a big decision. It requires a significant capital investment to hire a vendor to design and program a completely new website - but there's more to website development than design and programming. We often meet with many firms who have taken that step and have 'hired a vendor' to build a new website - the problem - they haven't developed a website strategy.
A website strategy brings focus and purpose to the design and programming stages. A basic web strategy should include the following:
- Objectives - List the main objectives of the website. What is the purpose? What do you want it to accomplish?
- Vision – Will the needs of the website change in 1-3 years? If so, how? Many companies often miss the opportunity to reflect on their future needs – such as the need to develop the website in another language or adding functionality such as client login. By sharing your future needs with your web vendor, they can ensure the site that is designed and built for today can be enhanced to include additional functionality at a later date.
- Audiences – Outline the website’s main audiences and their needs. For example:
- Potential Customers – What information do they need available to them? What do you want them to think/feel/do when they arrive? What information / functionality will help guide them through the buying process?
- Potential Employees – What information is important to new talent? How do you want to present your company to attract the best and most qualified talent?
- Strategic Partners – What information will they want to see to demonstrate the value we see in the relationship? What information will potential strategic partners want to see?
- User Experience – What do we want the overall perception to be of our website? What are key features that must be included in the site? For example: Search, Request for More Information forms, Accessibility compliant, Print-friendly, etc.
Following the completion of your web strategy, develop a sitemap outlining your site navigation and all pages within each menu item. It should include items that may be added in the future. Review your website strategy and sitemap with your web vendor to ensure the vision you have is understood by all.
Spending that extra time to answer these critical questions can help companies think through aspects of a website they never thought of. A website is often one of the first impressions made with a prospective customer, employee, strategic partner, investors, be sure to put your best face forward.