It’s a start of a new year and you are either starting to think about your new business or you’re looking to make 2018 your best year yet.
You have been looking over Christmas, how to move your business forward and your thinking about how to improve or get yourself a really good website which will get you loads of business.
The thing is you don't know where to start, you're probably getting lots of calls and emails saying you need or need things doing to your website.
There is so much advice out there so many people with different ideas on what you should be doing.
SEO, Social Media is being talked about and you're getting a bit lost.
Like anything you need to plan. If you don't have a plan, things will not work how you expect them to do and often or not. If you went to a web design company and said, ‘I need a website’, a decent one would expect some sort of pre-planning.
Like anything the website your most important digital tool is left last and not planned out like the rest of your business.
Your website will possibly be your largest marketing cost other than staff. What is your website going to do?
Part of the planning you need to think about your overall marketing online the website is going to be at the centre of every you do online.
Part of your marketing plan/strategy should heavily focus on what job the website is going to do.
This can be a combination of tasks. Such as lead generation, e-commerce, knowledge hub, brochure/brand awareness site.
Matching your Marketing Strategy Once you have worked out what purpose the website is going to do for your business you then need to match this to your personas from your marketing strategy.
This will then make it easy for you to start planning the content for your website.
The marketing strategy should also have some form of goal or objective and that you should have a strategy to look at least 12 to 24 months ahead. It should also look at possibly buying patterns.
For example, if you're a gym you're going to have periods of the year where membership and usage of the gym will drop.
You need to factor this into your strategy and also look at when those are likely to happen and then make sure the website is also geared up to meet these patterns.
Budget – you have to allow for updates
You can get yourself a free website using the off the shelf builders but would you really put something so critical to your business on something which doesn't match the quality of your business.
Like anything you get what you pay for.
If you have a cheap website you would be extremely lucky in the long term to get the type of return you would expect.
You should allow a decent budget in relation to your goals and objectives from your marketing strategy.
The website will have to be regularly updated and maintained particularly when technology moves and a ridiculous rate.
Most website the security side could be out of date within a week.
There is zero come back on your web host or web design/developer if you don't keep this up to date as its your property.
As the website is an asset and a tool for your business you need to make sure you understand that things do go wrong and often or not it's due to a change in the way technology works.
Just look at cars with product recalls and Intel with bugs within their computer chips.
With this in mind you need to look at your budget and allow that once your website is built that it will need to be supported maintained and kept up to date security wise.
Often business owners think the website is going to solve all their sales problem and make them money instantly.
You're very lucky if this happens! A website takes time to mature and like anything you need to make sure your marketing plan reflect the fact that you will need to push your website both off line and online.
You're competing with billions of other websites and for you to get a piece of the action you will need to put some effort in to people finding your website.
If I can plant a little seed to get your head round this. Google takes about 6-8 weeks to pick up any updates with regards to content.
Sometimes you can get instantly indexed with Google but then you're going to compete for 7 spots on page 1 and if you've got a lot of competitors you need to think it could take a while for you to show even doing a campaign.
Always plan 3 months ahead for content for the website and also on promotions.
Design Brief and content
The biggest issue web agencies and freelancers have is that there never given any content of a full web design brief. It is the hardest job to second guess what you want.
The web designer will get it wrong all the time if they're not given a full brief on what you want to achieve and what you want the site to do.
A web company which doesn't ask for brief walk away.
It's a recipe for you to have a big falling out with them. A brief and the content is 100% down to you.
As it's your business and your website your responsibility.
The content is going to be key for the website, if you provide no content the website may look terrible once you provide the content as the typography will be out and the images may not fit as well.
A decent web design agency can guide you on content and how big images should be.
Don't assume things will work how you expect in your head.
If you don't tell the web designer or web developer you expect a gallery to do XYZ on screen they will put a gallery into your website which unless instructed in the brief to put XYZ.
Remember it's like choosing the specification on your new car.
If you forget to tell the car company to put the DAB radio in it will cost you extra to have it installed after the order is placed.
Look local for a web designer
Keep your web designer in the UK and keep it local if you can, remember to ask for references and don't be afraid to contact their clients you can do a search "Website by the web designers name" this should bring up every website they've created.
You then don't get to see all the really good sites they've built being displayed on their portfolio page.
Once you have selected the company you work with look to actively be involved with the build. Not sitting there learning to code but make sure your part of the process all the way through.
It will then give you a better understanding how your website will work and it will mean you will be able to help plan the next phases of the website and your digital marketing.
I hope this blog helps you to plan a very successful website and help your understanding for getting a website to work for you.