A company’s website is one of the most important parts of a business. It is, after all, the “face” of the company and something that people will either take the time to click around and explore, or bounce. It is where people go to learn who you are, what you do, and what you offer; but it needs to be easily found by the right audiences via search engines and easy to comprehend and navigate once they’ve found you.
So how do you determine if you need a new website? When looking at your website’s analytics, if you’re seeing a high bounce rate, very little traffic or low conversions, or if you’re missing important branding, messaging and content that could be preventing visitors from taking the actions you want them to take, it’s time to reassess.
While it might seem overwhelming to overhaul a website, the increase in site traffic, user engagement and impact on your bottom line is worth the time investment. Here is a checklist we developed from both an account team and design standpoint to help you get started.
Before you start on drafting copy or mocking up designs, establish your budget: work with the executive team, the marketing team and all departments that need to be involved in establishing how much will be allocated to this project. Consider breaking your budget into buckets (copywriting, design, etc.) and make sure you have enough for development.
Once a budget is established, the discovery phase dives into what actually needs to be done across the website. The first step is a content audit, taking a look at what the site currently has and making note of what is missing or what needs to be optimized. This phase is also where you establish which audiences you are trying to reach and what their content needs are. At this phase, it might be established that you will need to add more tabs and pages, changing the website’s architecture (this will affect your budget!)
Once you identify your audiences and positioned your content to resonate with them, you will have to figure out the best way to present it digitally -- this is basically the “user experience”. User experience (or UX) serves as the “blueprint” for your site. Most teams start with very rudimentary sketches and site maps that ensure everything from the navigation to the calls to action are sensible and easy to understand. Believe it or not, most of the work is spent in this preliminary stage to make sure the foundation and structure are strong and support a successful user experience -- whether the goal is to inform them about your brand or generate a new lead.
As with any design project, you’ll need a variety of design elements to create visual interest. Your website is a chance for your visual brand to shine and flex its muscle with strong visual messaging. However, the design also needs to make sense across devices (that big, gorgeous auto-play video may not look so great on mobile), to a variety of audiences with different levels of accessibility (make sure your text is a good size and has visual contrast with your background). There are many informed decisions designers must make regarding color, layout, button size, imagery and even font that will contribute to a user’s decision to stick around or bounce.
Once your designs are approved and you’re excited to see your beautiful new site launch, there is still quite a bit of work to be done to bring it all to life. Development is not something you want to rush or not invest in -- even the most beautiful designs can fail if not developed properly. You should make sure your developer is thinking about the responsiveness of the site (again, this is how it looks across different devices). Other considerations such as the back-end or content management system (CMS) will allow you to make content updates and design tweaks for the future. Have conversations about how to host your site to make sure you are accounting for the amount of traffic being driven to the site as well.