Building a new website that is fully customized to your business’s goals and audience requires a lot of time, money, and strategy. Therefore, before you kickoff your new website project, make sure to answer these questions so that your team of designers and developers can build a website that contains all the elements your business needs to launch your digital presence.
1. What are the goals of your website?
Another way to phrase this question is, “how will your target audience use your website?” Is your website serving as an e-commerce platform or is it mainly to increase your brand’s digital reach and influence? Is your goal to generate and eventually convert leads? Your answers will affect the elements of your site layout, like your navigation scheme, user flow, and call-to-action buttons.
2. Who is your target audience?
Is your audience older or younger? Are they tech-savvy or have trouble navigating a website? Are they mostly male or female? Are they social media oriented? The answers to these questions will shape what will go in your website (i.e. images, fonts, and language).
3. Are you a new business or a well-known brand?
If you’re a new business, this is a great opportunity for you to build your brand identity, because you’re basically starting everything from scratch.
However, if you’re already well-established brand, you might want to think twice before you change everything, as your current customers may not be happy with a redesign if they’re already used to your colors, fonts, and site navigation. In this case, it’s better to work within the parameters of your current site to create one that your current customers can still recognize but still adds a modern update to it.
4. How did your old website perform?
If you have an old website, looking at your site analytics should inform the way you structure and design your new website.
- Which pages receive the highest traffic? This will tell you which pages are the most relevant to your audience so you can better optimize them.
- Which pages have the highest bounce rate? This will tell you which pages you should fix, either in terms of content revision or UX.
- Where is your traffic coming from? This will tell you whether you’ll need a responsive design site and which marketing channel you should be focusing on.
5. Is your website SEO-friendly?
The recent Google algorithm changes have cracked down on manipulative SEO tactics, spam, and keyword stuffing. Instead, 2014 SEO practices dictate that “conventional” SEO is out and a new type of SEO has emerged. Therefore, your website must be built with SEO in mind in order to rank well on search engines. Here’s what you need to know:
- Search-intent driven keywords – Instead of using general keywords, think about how your customers search and shape your content around long-tail keywords with high commercial intent. For example, instead of saying “purchase online,” instead say “buy women’s shoes online,” which has clearer search intent. See the difference?
- Logical site and URL architecture – Web architecture should be simple and logical, with all pages accessible within four clicks. Same goes with URL structure. URLs should be intuitive and readable for your customers. If you’re a local business,
- Meta data capability – Even though meta descriptions are no longer the sole focus of SEO, they’re still important in how your company is displayed on search results and social networks. Therefore, it should be simple to make meta updates to your site.
- Create pages with indexable content – Although current website trends call for more images and less words, pages with lean text content are bad for SEO as Google has a hard time understanding images without alt text behind them and therefore cannot crawl them. This means that you’re losing out on valuable search opportunities.
6. Are you investing in digital marketing?
If you’re planning on doing any form of digital marketing post site launch, your website must integrate elements of SEO, social media, and content marketing in your Web design. Here are just a few site additions you should consider:
- Business blog – We’ve written so many articles on why your business needs a business blog, but I can’t emphasize this enough. Blogs not only keep your website fresh (which Google loves) but also give you significant link-building power.
- Social buttons – Social proof is one of the best ways to prove your business’s credibility, as it psychologically influences your consumers to trust you if they see that others trust you as well. Therefore, add your business’s social buttons at the top of your website and social sharing buttons on all your blogs.
- “Subscribe to blog” button – This is a great way to build your email list to fuel any future email marketing campaigns you decide to do.
- Optimized landing pages – Typically, most people don’t land immediately on a home page but instead are directed to a specific page, depending on their search query or your ads. Therefore, your product or services pages should also function as effective landing pages for potential customers.
- NAP – Adding your business’s name, address, and phone number on your website is one of the most important aspects of a local SEO strategy, as it makes it easier for customers and search engines to figure out where your company is located.
7. What does your competition’s website look like?
Perform an audit of your competitor’s websites and make a list of the features you love (and hate) in their website. In addition, it would be useful to analyze their site metrics, like their keyword rankings and amount of indexable content. By doing this, you’ll get a better sense of the state of your industry and how you measure up against them in order to devise a better strategy to outperform them.
Whether you’re doing a site refresh or a complete overhaul, knowing the answers to these questions will not only make the Web design process easier for your designers and developers but will also produce a better website that will meet your goals.