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Planning Your New Website – A 12 Point Checklist

Sep 9, 2013 | Business, Websites

So you want a new website for your business? To give yourself the best chance of creating a website in the most efficient and cost effective way, go through this checklist before you contact your web designer. The findings from this checklist will help you write a detailed brief to direct your web designer to achieving your website goals.

(1) Know your business goals.

This may sound obvious, but your website should be closely tied to your business goals. Do you want to build your audience – capture email addresses for your database. Is customer service and retention a key business strategy? Incorporate ongoing customer service within your website. Understand why and how a website can help you get closer to your desired business outcomes. Also consider what you are asking your clients to do on the website. Do you want them to sign up to your email list, call for a quote, buy from the website or come in to your physical location? By having clear outcomes your website can be developed to achieve those outcomes.

(2) Know your target audience.

A clear understanding of your target audience will drive the design, structure and tone of your website. If you have primarily a local audience, local references and information will be relevant. If your audience is international, consider the languages you need to incorporate and cultural nuances that need to be considered.

(3) Be Clear on Your Branding

Your website should be an extension of your brand, consistent with other marketing and communications materials. Having a clear brand strategy and detailed brand guidelines will help your web designer achieve that consistency. Have a toolbox of brand elements – logos, key imagery, brand colours – ready to incorporate into your website.

(4) Make a List of Websites You Like / Don’t Like

Spend some time looking through websites, from within your industry and outside. Note the elements you like, and those that you don’t. Pay attention to navigation, structure and usability. Use your findings to assist with writing your brief to your web developer.

(5) Research Your Competitors’ Websites

What are your competitors doing well? What information are they sharing with their audience? How can you differentiate your business from your competitors?

(6) Know What You Want Your Website To Do – Now and 2 Years In The Future

Have both a short-term and long-term focus for your website. What functionality do you want it to have at launch? But also consider what you may want it to achieve 2 years down the track. Will you be needing e-commerce at any point? Will you want a portfolio of your work? Will you need to book appointments or sell tickets. By flagging your future plans in the beginning, your website can be structured in such a way that developments and additions won’t be too difficult or costly in the future.

(7) Consider Search Engine Optimisation

Research keywords and phrases to they can be incorporated into your website during the content creation. Discuss on-page SEO with your web designer so that it is front of mind throughout the project development, not tacked on at the end.

(8) Know Who Will Be Managing / Updating Your Website

Who in your team will be responsible for managing and updating your website? Who will have ultimate responsibility for the content? Who will respond to enquiries that are generated by the website? What skill level do these team members have, and what training will be needed to get them up to speed?

(9) Start Collecting High Quality Images

Images make or break your website. Start collecting high quality, professional images of your products, services, location, team members and any other images that can represent your company and brand. Consider getting professional photography for your website.

(10) Keep Track of the Questions Your Customers Ask.

Many businesses struggle to identify the content that they should include on their website. The best place to start is answering your customers’ questions. What questions do your customers ask? What information do they look for when talking to your team? How can you answer these questions in such a way that sets your business apart from your competitors.

(11) Know Your Budget

Business and marketing tools are an investment. While it’s no longer necessary to spend thousands of dollars on a basic website, you will need to invest some money and time in creating the best site for your business. Be aware of your budget in the beginning to avoid any surprises. Understand that as well as the development cost, there are ongoing costs of domain registration and web hosting.

(12) Communicate Your Time Frames

Do you want your website launched at a particular time or to meet a set milestone? Communicate this up front. Also, schedule your own time during the development process to allow space for preparing content, responding to queries from your web developer and approving completed work. Quick responses from your side can speed up the process considerably.

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