You’ve decided you want a new website, so what do you do next? I’m going to give you few things to prepare before you even start talking to a web designer or developer to get your site built out.
Let’s be clear, you’re not going to want to take on this project all by yourself. Yes, it is a project. You know that it’ll never get done if someone isn’t guiding you, and if by some miracle you were able to pull it off, it’s not going to showcase your talents and offerings in the most efficient manner.
You need help with your website strategy but don’t know where to begin. Let’s get you started with a shortlist of what you need in order to be prepared for that first talk with a website strategist.
First of all, start with the goal in mind. But also be aware of what comes after you reach your goals. By taking this strategic approach, you can create a website that won’t already be obsolete on launch day. Unfortunately, that does happen.
Your thought process might go something like this:
- This is what we will build
- As a result, our clients will be able to…
- Then they can …..
- And this is how we will nurture them along from beginning to end
- At the end of the line, we want them to …
- What if step 3 didn’t work?
- We’re not planning on offering A, B, or C …. yet
- We will not offer D, C, or E … unless …
- Of course we haven’t even taken … in to consideration
(You know your S.M.A.R.T goals, right?)
Step One: What do you want your customers to be able to achieve when they land on your website after it launches? How about 1 year from now? How about 3 years from now?
You always have to be thinking ahead. So when you’re when you’re on step one. You should always be aware of step three.
So what does that mean? Let me give you an analogy: I have a background in Tai Chi and Kung Fu (Took 1st place in Yang Style Tai Chi at the 2019 Hiroshima Prefecture Tai Chi Competition, and made it to the Nationals), and this is more interesting that then the typical “Why do you need to buy insurance on your house or for your family members?” analogy.
If you are about to be attacked by a person twice your size, what do you do? What would your reaction be? Do you turn around and run? That depends if your back is to a wall. Do you punch or kick them? Let’s say you do. Then what? If they’re too big and it doesn’t have an effect, well now they’re just more angry and they come at you harder. And you have no way to defend yourself, and you’re in worse shape than when you started.
Knee-jerk reactions rarely get you far, and more often than not, you find yourself stuck afterwards. By the way, the best answer when being attacked is to not be there. If you see it coming, get out of the way. Better still, don’t give them a target to begin with.
The same thing happens with your website. If you don’t think it through before you get started, chances are high that you’re going to run into issues all along the way. So what are some things that you need to think about first?
Step 2: Put your website on a platform that is flexible, scalable and allows your business to grow.
First of all, what platform will your website reside on? There are several options, such as WordPress, Wix, SquareSpace, or even hand-coded html websites. So which do you choose?
Quick answer: You don’t, your web strategist does this for you. They have the knowledge and experience required to make results oriented decisions so you don’t have to.
I started off hand coding websites in html, php, and mysql databases. It took a long time to build out and while I did create an interface for updating content, it was clunky, no one else knew how to maintain it, and it was a pain keeping the code up to date with current standards. Oh, and that wasn’t my main job, so I had to find time on nights and weekends to keep it running and up to date.
I now prefer the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) because it is wildly popular around the world, has a vast developer base, and is constantly being updated and upgraded. We also now know that 40% of all websites are built on WordPress. It was designed to make it fairly easy to add new functionality to a site using popular plugins. If you want to offer a particular kind of experience to your website visitors, chances are someone else has already figured out a way to do it and there is a way to make it happen that doesn’t require months or years of coding.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I want to keep my website content fresh? (Tip: Search Engines like fresh content because people like fresh content.)
- Do I want to spend my time updating my website myself? Or do I want to focus on my business and have someone maintain and update it for me?
- Do I want my website (a.k.a my marketing machine) to reflect my brand and values?
- Do my products or services change often enough that someone will need to be able to easily login and make sure changes are reflected in a timely manner?
- Do I need to sell physical or digital products or services?
- Will I EVER want to sell something via my website (like a singing program or voice pedagogy course)?
- Do I (or will I ever) want to offer bespoke services or content that only members will have access to?
Knowing these things and expressing them to the agency that will produce your website right from the beginning of the project will increase your likelihood of success. They can plan out the platform and tools you will need FOR YOU so you can focus on what you do best.
Step 3: Know your business. Know your offerings and who wants them.
Do you know what you offer? Silly question, I know. It’s also amazing how little we tend to think about this before we get started.
Maybe it is as simple as “I sell jelly beans.” Your digital strategist will ask you targeted questions like, “Okay, what color? How big are they? Are they only for kids, or do adults eat them too? Do they come in a box? Do you make them at home and people come pick them up, or do you ship them out? Or are they someone else’s beans and you’re just in the middle? Can you teach people to make their own jelly beans?”
Here are some things to consider about your products and services:
- How many products do I have? Are they physical or digital goods? (Digital would be something like an eBook or PDF that is downloadable.)
- Do I need to collect money? If so, do I want to offer payment options?
- What varieties of my products are available? Different sizes? Multiple booking dates?
- Who buys my products now? Who might buy them if they were available online?
- Can I offer new services now that they are available to a worldwide customer base electronically?
- Are my offerings complicated? Can I simplify them?
- Can I provide more than I am offering? What other ways do people benefit from my business?
- What kind of financial investment am I realistically willing to make in order to bring this project to fruition?
- What kind of timeframe am I looking at? Do I have a reason for a deadline?
- How will I measure success?
Sound overwhelming? Well, it is a process that should not be taken lightly. Failure to think this through could cost you dearly in time and money.
Nevertheless, no matter how much strategy you put into it, things can and will change throughout the process. However, the more prepared you are from the beginning, the easier it will be to adapt and move forward. And the more you adapt and move forward, the higher your chances of launching a successful website without regrets.
If you’ve already thought this through and are ready to get your website project started, get in touch with us here to see if we’re a good fit. HINT: We’re going to ask you for a lot of this information just to apply!
Are you excited about your project, but not sure where to begin? We can help you out with a strategic “Discovery Session” to help bring out the answers above, and more. Book a Discovery call here.