Thinking back to Y2K, a great deal has changed in every facet of the internet from the way we market ourselves to the way we consume information. Even as we were all preparing for imminent doom, we were still reading about it on CRT monitors or woefully under powered laptops. Yet, the impression we get is that unless you’re in the industry – not much has changed.
This is why we’ve decided to give our thoughts on what’s important to consider when starting a new website project. It can be easy to get wrapped up in the the obvious issues around design and appearance, but there are much more important things to be concerned about seeing as good looking design should just be a given these days.
Content as King
Many clients come to us knowing what they want their website to look like or at least knowing what they don’t like. This is an interesting scenario for everyone involved. You know what you like and we know what works. Inevitably these two positions clash at an almost philosophical level, however a blog post about how we’re always right and you should just surrender your opinion isn’t really productive.
So we ask you to think of the content. Much like children, your content needs your constant care and attention. It is an extension of yourself and literally your written legacy. At the end of the day your website is just a home for your hard work. The content is why users are there, they don’t care about the shade of blue you used or that your logo was the biggest element on the page. They care about substance and how easy it is to absorb.
To many, content is just an afterthought. This is something that has boggled my mind constantly now having been in the industry for many years. I’ve often refused to move forward on projects with no thought to content. Some of the most scary nightmare projects have been ones where content came last or worse… was the clients old site with a new skin.
You see, content is King. Content will dictate what actions appear on your front page, how your navigation is laid out, what images are created, and drive just about every other decision in relation to your project. Going to a web design firm with a design in mind but no real grasp of content is asking for trouble.
Your Goals Drive Content
Content is all well and good but if you’re just rattling off information like some kind of crazed encyclopedia you’re not winning anyone over, and trust us, that is the main objective of your website. The internet is all about winning peoples time. Time is the most valuable thing to the average person. Our time is worth money, our time is not replaceable, and wasting it is just the worst thing that can happen.
So how do you know if you’re wasting peoples time? Well that’s where goals and analytics come in. Every good project will have clearly defined goals both macro and micro. The typical macro goal we see is to grow your business and make more money, which are both very sensible and very achievable. Your micro goals are what will decide if you get there.
Your own goals need to be in alignment with the goals of your clients. You need to remember that every goal must provide some value to a prospective client. If you want a prospective clients contact information, your content needs to support the case for them submitting it to you. Reinforce the value they will receive, be it a free quote or information package.
From the moment a client arrives at your site your content should be guiding them towards the end result: contacting you. Things like your company history, or certifications, or staff information are all supporting materials to help build credibility after you’ve captured a users initial interest. Your job is to provide enough information to educate a prospective client as to why you are the one to choose while guiding them towards your conversion goal.
Understanding Your Demographic
We look to our clients to help us get up to speed on who their clients are. We need your help to understand who they are and what they’re looking for. With this information we use the various tools at our disposal to hash out what they’re expecting to see when they come to your website.
We also use this information to hash out technical details like how likely is it these users will be viewing your site from a mobile device while on the move, how much time can we estimate the average user will actually have to “get to the point” and make a conversion, or what keywords are they not only searching for but are expecting when they arrive.
Truly understanding your prospective clients will help us create a website that suits them and by way of this also suit you. The simple fact of the matter is we really aren’t building you a website – we’re building a website for your prospective clients.
When It All Comes Together…
So now you’ve set your goals and created your content (both things we can help you with) what do we do? Now is the time for your design input. By this point we’ve crafted what we believe is the correct path to take your prospective clients on and you can add your own unique flair to it. This is disappointing to a lot of clients in some way, but you have to remember – the internet is what we’ve chosen to be experts on. We’ve invested our time into learning trends, standards, even the psychology of users. Your goal isn’t to be your own web designer, it’s to get more business. We know how to get you there if you let us.
We build easy to use interfaces with persuasive content designed to turn internet users into clients. It’s a formula when it comes down to it. One we spend countless hours tweaking and perfecting. We can make you stand out from the crowd and hit all of your goals through proper architecture of content, layout, and analytics.