A business’s website can often be a glorified business card, full-blown e-commerce platform or somewhere in the middle. The big picture, all-encompassing goal…to attract more customers. As web designers and developers, the clearer the goals are from the beginning, the smoother the experience will be for everyone.
Too often business owners view a website as just that…a website. Instead of viewing websites as commodities and just another line item on your expenses, look at websites as an investment. Before a business needs a website, they first need a strategy. Once the strategy is determined (ie attracting more leads) the website starts to take shape, it now becomes a vehicle for the given strategy.
We like to remind business owners that their website is often the first impression a potential customer has of their business. They are walking in your doors from an online perspective. We need to 1) determine how we create a front door people want to open and 2) decide how we want people to feel once they’ve opened that door.
Designing a website without having any kind of brand strategy is like throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks and your target audience witnesses this.
Every dollar spent planning is two to three dollars saved in production. Where money gets to get lost is at the end when business owners tend to make last minute requests that are out of scope and requires re-engineering. Clients expect and trust that we’re going to be reasonable and we will provide what we communicated, and we expect that our clients will also be reasonable when they ask us to do something we determine is out of scope.
When searching for a web agency or designer/developer it’s a good idea to ask around your industry to see who others used with their sites. If you come across a web business you’re interested in, do your homework and pay close attention to the process they take you through. If they are focusing on strategy, asking good questions and really trying to understand your business, they’ll probably be a good fit.
Can your website look like this other one you really like? We will admit that we really like it when clients tell us about sites they love because it gives us a specific idea of their tastes, but we don’t want to copy something or follow another brand’s strategy.
Whether you’re looking to build a site from the ground up or just do a fresh redesign, keep in mind that the strategy and goals will drive the rest. Look for an agency or web professional that sees the value in understanding your business to the furthest possible extent and what your business goals are. And finally, understand that websites are never “build it and they will come.” These are living, breathing things that will always need to be improved and evolved.