Just like with SEO, it’s great to know where you stand. Maybe you have come to the conclusion that you really do need a brand new website. You have come to the conclusion, perhaps, that the catalog-style 1987 vintage website you hold close to your heart is just no longer helping you out. Maybe you have gotten one too many complaints about broken links or features that are not mobile-friendly. The time has come to start anew. But how do you even get started?
When you work on a new website with us, you can usually depend on a pretty consistent process. This process has been honed over time and we think it works pretty well. Here is a short sketch about how all of this works.
What sites do you like?
After making sure that you are actually familiar with your own website (many of our contacts simply don’t have the time to visit their own websites often), we like to find out what websites you really like, and why. This experiment often yields interesting results. We found out that one of our industrial clients, for example, really admired a hotel chain’s corporate website. When we asked why, answers ranged from the touchy feely letter from the president to the easy navigation. Sometimes looking at other websites also helps people identify what they don’t like about their existing website, which can help us out.
What do you want your website to accomplish?
Redesigning a website is not something you want to do willy nilly. It represents a significant investment of time and money, so when the work is done you want to make sure that you have come closer to meeting a specific objective. E-commerce sites can be a little easier to identify objectives for since they are either helping you make money directly or they are not. Any kind of website can help strengthen various facets of your company though, whether it’s converting leads to sales or improving customer service. Understanding how you want your website to function as part of your company is essential.
Developing the site map
The site map is like your website’s skeleton. We don’t really think you can build a website well (if at all) if you have no idea where the pages are going or how different pages are tied together. Establishing a site map also helps everyone understand the scope of the project. While developing the site map is part of our overall project quote, we usually won’t offer an official quote on a web project until everyone has approved of a site map. Site maps clearly outline how many pages will be involved, which also helps define the scope of the project.
The homepage and one interior page
The temptation is always to go crazy as soon as the site map is approved, but everyone needs to be VERY happy with how a website looks when it is complete, and the fact is, this can take time to nail down. That’s why we like to start by working on the homepage and then showing how that will carry over into the interior pages. We will usually choose a page for a key product or service so that it’s clear how the most important pages of the site will look and work. Once everyone is ok with the design of these two pages, the website development process can continue.
The copy question
One stumbling block we tend to run into quite often is the question as to whether the client should supply us with copy or whether we should write all of the copy. The best answer is a little of both. What we find works really well is if a client provides us with some bullet points for at least key pages. Highlight the facts that absolutely need to be there, and give us the technical verbiage your audience will expect. We can then massage those bullet points into copy that Google and your visitors will like.
That’s obviously a super fast run-through of our process, but at least it gives you an idea. Want more information or have questions? Let us know below!
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/5528772562/ via Creative Commons