Planning your website
Planning your website is the first step to building a website that gets results. Recently I was asked to be the guest speaker at a Newcastle Business Networking night (thanks for the invite, Amy Beckett). I spoke about what I believe are the five key ingredients to not only building a great website but one that will help convert your visitors into genuine leads and sales. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be blogging about each of these five areas. Today, I’ll be talking about the first of my five points to building a website that gets results. And that’s to start with a plan!
‘If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.’
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (Cheshire Cat)
Let’s begin planning your website
It’s amazing how many people approach me saying they want a website, but have no idea why, or even what the website will do. You don’t have to have everything laid out, especially if you’re using a web developer, but it is useful if you have some idea before you begin (and this is essential if you’ve decided to DIY your website). Here are 7 questions you should ask to help get your website plan together.
1. Do you need a website?
One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is, do you need a website? I know this question may seem ridiculous coming from a web developer – but seriously, not all businesses need one. Especially not in the early days. Think through alternate options, a social media page, a Google My Business page, and if you conclude that none of those are going to be enough for what your customers need, then perhaps it is time for a website.
2. Will you DIY or outsource?
If your budget is slim, and you have the time and skills (or willingness to learn), many people choose to DIY their own website. There are some great tools out there for people without the web-skills (although, they can be a bit limiting at times). But, as ideal as it can seem to save some money and build your own website, you need to weigh up if you have the time, and also how much your time is worth. The kind of results are you hoping to achieve will also play a factor in this decision. Hiring a web developer can seem like a large expense, however if you consider how much of your business revenue will come through your website, and also how professional your business will appear, this can help alleviate some of the anxiety. (And here’s where I add the shameless plug for Brugel Creative, if you’re planning on outsourcing, please let us know).
3. Do you have the time?
That’s right, just like the saying goes, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’; and rarely was a website. Even if you’re planning on hiring a web-developer to build your website, no one knows your business better than you, and you’re still going to need time to gather information, brief the developer, and project manage the website internally. However, hiring a web developer is certainly going to take up less of your time than building the website yourself. If you don’t have time to spare right now, you may need to refer to question 1 again, and determine how much of a priority a website really is right now. If it is a priority, then you need to make the time.
4. What are you offering?
Now we need to ask what purpose the website will serve.
- Product: Are you selling a product? Perhaps you’ll need an e-commerce website so people can buy online directly through your website, or maybe you’ll just need to link to your online Etsy (or similar) store.
- Service: If you’re offering a service, what is that service and what do people need to know about it?
- Value: Are you offering some extra value to your target audience? Perhaps it’s an add-on to a service or product they would have gotten elsewhere, something that is going to be of enormous benefit to them. Maybe the knowledge and expertise you have to share is of real value, and you’ll be creating content and courses.
- Experience: Maybe what you do is experience based? Do you run a restaurant or a cinema? Do you need people to come to your website because you want them to come to your physical location?
There are so many other things to think through, and plenty of other reasons to have a website. But as I said at the beginning, the critical part is to have a plan and know exactly what your website’s primary purpose is.
5. Who will visit your website?
The marketer in me needs you to understand just how important this question is. Who is your audience? I feel like the golden rule of marketing should be ‘thou must know your target market’. The reality is, not everyone cares about what you have to do/say/offer, so let’s hone-in on those who do and make sure whatever we do in our website speaks directly to them. If you want to engage your audience, you must know who they are (or at least be able to vaguely describe them to your marketing manager so they can get into the details).
6. What action do you want your visitors to take?
You want your visitors to be impressed by the look of your website, but you also want to convert them into actual leads. Your call to action is one of the most important aspects of your website, so knowing what action you want your visitors to take is essential. It might be you want them to contact you for a quote; you might want them to sign-up to your e-newsletter, you may want them to buy a product. No matter what it is you do, if you have a website, you have to make it clear to your website visitors exactly what you need them to do.
7. What is your budget?
People are always shy when it comes to talking about money, but when it comes to building a website, don’t be shy! A website is going to cost money, and you need to be prepared for that (yes, even if you’re doing it yourself). A lot of technical knowledge goes into building a website – and the following blog posts in this series will delve into a bit more detail about that – but the purpose should always be to grow your business.
While you’re thinking through your budget, you should consider what you expect to get for your Return On Investment (ROI), and when you hope to have that back. I always say you should expect to get your website ROI within 6-12 months of launch. When I say that, I mean your website should have returned into your pocket what you spent on it, and it should then be providing you with profit. But how you measure your ROI is entirely up to you. If you’re a blogger, it may be that you’ve been invited as a guest speaker or blogger via your contact form and those have turned into income generating jobs – and that’s where the value in spending money getting your website developed lies. For an e-commerce store, it’s selling your products and it’s far easier to measure the value of your website that way.
Now you’ve spent time planning your website, it’s time to begin!
I hope this was helpful and that you have a better idea about how to begin to plan your website. In my next blog, I’m going to speak about the importance of branding, or as we at Brugel like to say: Talk to the Brand.
If you would like to know anything further about how to get your website plan together, please get in contact, we’d love to help you.