Starting a new website project is an exciting undertaking, but considering these 3 fundamental things before you get started will help you save time and money.
If you're anything like me, you've already scoured the web for "brand-crushes," found some cool ideas on inspiration sites, or already checked out what your near and distant competitors are doing. You might already have a secret Pinterest board (or a couple), stuffed with dream sites that you can't wait to show your designer.
Most designers will start your project with a questionnaire, asking some questions about what you're trying to accomplish with your new site. But even before you sit down for your first kick-off meeting, any web designer or developer will love you if you've taken the time to do some homework. Getting really granular about some key pieces of strategy will make the building and decision making process go much quicker and easier for everyone involved — because you'll have a clear definition of the target you're trying to hit.
1. Who are they?
You've heard it from us before, and you'll likely hear it again — almost everything you do in your marketing, social media and web strategies are going to start and end with your customers. Without a super clear vision of your customer (or customer segments), you run the risk of making a big mistake: trying to talk to too many people. You want to talk your people's language. You want them to come to your site and instantly recognize that they're in the company of a brand "who gets them."
Here are some questions you can ask yourself if you're not already clear about your customer, or if you don't know how your profiles can affect your web strategy:
hat do they value?
This relates directly the the problem you want to solve: busy moms value their time. Certain industries (think attorney) value professionalism and accuracy. New home buyers value trust.
What kind of content (blogs, magazines, books) do they read?
This might give you into the stye of language and layout they gravitate toward. Readers of creative blogs are going to have a different aesthetic than readers of the New Yorker. Take note.
What kind of language do they use?
Creative entrepreneurs might use super casual language and like to be talked to like a friend. So, for them no big words, short sentences and casual words (like yeah or kinda).
These detailed answer to this customer profile will help you make better decisions on every inch of your website: the headlines you use, the copy on your pages, the images you take, the look and feel of those images, the number of web pages build — everything.
2. What Do They Want?
This is one that might come from your business plan — but this is the problem that you have come into the world to solve. You want to understand your customer's pain points, and let them know how you address that really easily. Lots of business owners think they know what they're selling, but once we dig a little deeper with them, they might realize that they need to be even more clear about how their solving their customer's pain points.
Here are some questions you can ask if you don't have a clear sense of what you're offering:
What do they email you when you get new inquiries?
Listening to the exact words they use can clue you into their pain. For Prim'd Marketing, people use words like "feeling outdated" or "we need a plan" or "we're looking for some guidance on..."
How do your product or services address their values?
You might be selling photographs, but you're really helping them tap into memories. Or you might be selling a services to help with their bookkeeping, but you're really giving them hours in their day to focus on what they love.
What words do they use at the end of a project cycle or in testimonials?
If you're a consultant of some type, your clients might say that they feel more in control of a certain area of their business, or they might have more clarity. Use this.
Getting clear about what you're offering people will help inform some of the key pages of your website. If you're a consultant or sell services, these answers will likely show up on your "How I Work" or "Work With Me" pages. If you sell a project, you'll want to leverage these customer messages throughout your product pages.
3. What You Want Them to Do?
This one might be the most important. In fact, we've heard it called "Your website's core purpose" by other web strategists. Without knowing what action you want your customers to take, you're not creating a website that is going to guide them to a conclusion. And good websites definitely have a sense that you're being "guided." You know where to look, you can easily find what you're looking for, and it's super clear what actions you'd take next.
If you don't know the action you want your customer to take you can ask these questions:
What is the end goal of this website (hint: it's probably to make sales)
If you're a service based business, it's probably to get hired, and if you're a product based business it's probably to sell products (in conclusion, to make sales)
How do I want my customers going to buy me?
- Do all (or most) of the calls-to-action on your website lead to a contact form?
- If you have a product, is it easily to find the kind of product I'm looking for, and compare it other products in your line (categories are SUPER important here).
- Before your clients buy you, they have to learn to trust you. You might offering them some free content (webinar download or e-book). But from there, you'll need to give them next steps to either interact with you again or give them instructions on how to buy you.
Launching a great website comes from having a super clear strategy. And most people think they have a clear strategy, until they sit down to start. So do yourself and your design team a favor — start answering these questions early. If you're super savvy you can even draw pictures, or start to think through the "flow" of how you want people to visit certain pages on your site (in which order). And if you're site is making you cringe, you can check out our work, or get in touch with us about starting an upcoming project.
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