Undertaking a web project like a website redesign or redevelopment is often seen as arduous to many companies, a necessary evil driven by the fluidity and innovative nature the digital environment requires to keep your business competitive. And to be honest, it does take a good amount of concentration and coordination to pull it off effectively. Your company’s website is the central hub of all your online marketing efforts, the lead generating focal point of all your content, and as such, it needs to be maintained and updated regularly and keep to ever-changing best practice standards. Why? To keep your brand relative and aligned with your customers needs, ahead of competitors and a representative industry.
Setting the Stage for your Web Project
So, yes, you need to redevelop your website and yes, you need to design it with your target market‘s needs in mind. The activity requires, first and foremost, a pre-development, development and post-development calendar that lay out each phase, detailing the active members at each stage as well as their deadline orientations to keep the project moving.
This process requires a deep-dive both internally and externally using resources like sales and customer service staff to map your buyer’s interactions with your company to understand what your customers want and how they interact with your brand. External data can be acquired using incentive-driven polls or surveys that will garner direct answers from your existing target lists. Industry statistics round out the data you need to develop your web design strategy. Too often a website strategy is begun with “how we want the site to look”. This is the wrong strategy.
The Web Development Process
Using your gathered data, the first step is the development of your website navigation, keeping in mind at all times how your customers will get the information they need to understand who you are, what you do and what makes you different (a/k/a: better) than your competition. Website navigation is the foundation upon which your web design is built, so take the time to consider all interaction types, and how your audience wants information served up to them. Remember, the goal of this website is to drive leads, really knowing your target market, and keeping to the KISS principle for global navigation, will lend to a navigation strategy that will increase lead generation.
Following these research and navigation development stages are design mock-ups. Now is the time to think about how you want your site to look. Do some competitive analysis at this point and think of how you want your brand to be perceived. With design and navigation finalizes, we then move on to site development, content creation and implementation, testing, internal reviews, edits and adjustments, then finally, site launch. While listed sequentially, the process is not always linear, and many of the steps are continually repeated.
Feels like it’s going to be a long road already, doesn’t it? Well, it should feel that way and it’s worth every second when it’s done properly. Marketing strategy begins with understanding who your brand is in the industry, what your differentiators are and how you can help your customers. Your web project needs each individual component to fit together naturally and flow as one unified and pleasant experience. to support each of these components.
However, no matter how organized, focused or engaged your team is with the web project, there is one thing that will derail even the most-strategically developed plan: loss of momentum.
Stick-to-It-iveness and Your Web Project
Have you ever gone to the store with a list of items that you intend to buy and gotten sidetracked looking at some well-placed item that isn’t on your list, eventually forgetting to get what you went to the store for in the first place? Or, have you begun writing an article or a speech and walked away when things started to flow, only to lose your perspective? You spend time driving back to the store, wasting time and money, or flounder looking for the “perfect phrase” that, once lost, can be very elusive to regain, and while you’ll eventually finish writing the speech the results are diminished somewhat.; due to loss of momentum in the creative process.
We have noted that a web redevelopment or redesign is a multi-step, and lengthy, process and then apply the same concept of losing momentum during the shopping trip or the writing activities. When you pause, or worse yet, stop the forward motion of the web project, you lose track of your timelines, your strategy, and of the plethora of direction and goals that were developed during your research stages. Small misses in content, layout of specific pages and navigation options are forgotten in the downtime.
When things pick back up, your project manager is tasked with remembering where things stopped. All outstanding items and their status need to be reassessed, team members have to spend more time re-reviewing items they already vetted, and due to simple human nature, errors happen. You’re left, in essence, having to spend time and money driving back to the store to get what you forgot (additional project costs due to dropped website items) or floundering to regain your creative perspective that will drive the best response from your customers.
To put it simply, when you delay the web project process, for days, weeks or even months, when things get tabled and pushed aside, you are left with a website that is diminished from the original vision, either in its cost effectiveness, its strategy or its ability to drive results.
The key to avoiding a dilution of your online marketing strategy and website is to stay the course, build a calendar and stick to it. Keep the team on track and thinking strategically about your website, your customers and your online marketing goals until testing begins. You’ll get a better performing website in the end, you’ll keep your costs in check and your visitors are ensured the best web experience you can offer, which means more conversions, and sales, for your brand.