Are you thinking of creating a new website for your business or have decided that it is time for a complete refresh for your existing site?
Want to get stuck in straight away? Don’t!
Now is the ideal opportunity to go back to basics and make sure you’re completely clear on your objectives for your new website. This way you can make sure your new website design is fully aligned with your business objectives and target market.
I have put together this simple website planning strategy to help you define and focus your efforts before you start the design process. This won’t take long, but will make the design process simpler and should ultimately mean your new website reaches and engages your target market, generates more leads and helps grow your business.
Read on to find out what you should be thinking about…
1. Define your Business Objectives
The first step of your website planning strategy is to remind yourself of your business objectives.
What is the key focus of your business? What are you trying to achieve? Where do you want your business to go in the future?
If you have a business plan, revisit it and make sure it still aligns with your current business objectives. If it is out of date or you haven’t got one then consider at producing one.
This should really help focus your website planning process. From this you should be able to identify what you want and need from your site. What is your top objective for your website? Is it:
- To sell products online, such as an ecommerce site.
- To raise your company’s profile and provide information about what you do.
- To generate new sales leads.
- To book appointments.
- Maybe all of the above?
If you have a website already, then reassess it in the light of your business plan. Does it do what it needs to or is it time for a rethink? I recommend that you condense this down into a single paragraph that you can revisit throughout your website planning & design process. For example:
My business website will tell the world that I run the best seafood restaurant, with the highest quality ingredients in West London. My new website will allow customers to:
- Book a table
- Locate the restaurant
- Find an up to date seasonal menu
- Read about our award winning chef
- Read about how we source our fish & seafood direct from the quayside (Our USP)
- Read customer reviews and testimonials
2. Identify your audience & target customers
So now you are clear on what you want your website to achieve you need to work out how you best communicate & engage with your target customers. One of the easiest ways to do this is to identify your ‘ideal’ client or customer and create a profile for them.
For example following the theme of the example above, your ideal customer could be:
A seafood loving affluent, professional living in West London, who likes to eat out and is willing to pay for quality seasonal food.
Alternatively you may be targeting other businesses and therefore your profile would look quite different!
Whatever your business, identify your core or target customer base. Write down your profile and ensure that throughout the design process you revisit it regularly to make sure you are consistent in meeting what that customer wants and needs. You need to ensure that your website content and design is focused on attracting and engaging that profile.
3. What customer problem does your business solve?
So now you know what you are trying to achieve and who you are targeting. Next you need to frame this in the mindset out your target customer.
Your objective might be to grow your courier business as fast possible, however your target customer probably couldn’t care less! They just want to get their delicate package delivered across London by 3pm, (in one piece!). So your company would want to demonstrate that it can solve this problem.
You need to be fast, reliable, professional etc. Think about what this would mean for your business and what key problems your are solving for your customers or client.
- My customers need….
- My company can solve this by providing…
Once you have this information make sure this is used and clearly demonstrated on your website homepage.
4. Identify what makes your business special?
Unless your company is very unusual, the chances are that you have competition. There is probably someone else out there offering a similar service, so you need to set yourself apart.
I always recommend checking out your competitions website, or those operating in a similar niche. What differentiates your business from the competition? Maybe you are the only yoga studio in the area that provides a certain service. Or you may have 20 years experience in your specialist field. Identify what makes your business special – your Unique Selling Point (USP).
Remember to make sure it is something your target customers would care about!
My business’s USP is…
(As a side note whenever you see a website design or piece of functionality you like, take note of the best bits and incorporate them into your site when you do get designing. Don’t plagiarize – but if you think something looks good or really works then include it in your new design or tell your web designer that you want that functionality).
5. Test your proposition
If you are super confident in your business and target market you could miss this part out. However I think it is always helpful and good practice to get somebody else’s view, especially as you don’t want to get deep into the design process before someone ‘helpfully’ challenges your approach – ‘Hey are you sure this is right…?’ and you have to start all over.
Ask somebody you respect, a business associate, mentor or trusted friend to check through your answers to the topics above. Ideally it should be somebody who knows your business or the market you are aiming for. Tell them to be honest and listen to their opinions (which you may or may not agree with!).
It is much easier to tweak something now then midway through your website design process. Make any adjustments you think are necessary. At the end of the website planning process you should now be clear about:
- The business objective for your website.
- Your target audience.
- Your customers key problem(s) and how you are going to solve them.
- Your business’s USP.
- You have checked that you are on the right track before you start designing.
You are now ready to start your website design process!
Please check out my two part blog on the website design process. They set out how you can get your website looking just how you want it and connecting, engaging and converting your target customers.
How to define your Website Branding, Look and Image focuses on the visual elements of web design and the practical steps you can take to explore and define what your site will look like.
Essential Website Content – How to choose your words… carefully. This guide builds on Part One and will focus on your website’s Content – that’s the important written stuff! It sets out what pages you should include and other important aspects such as basic keyword identification and SEO.
If you would like help with either your website planning strategy or designing your website then I would love to hear from you. Please get in touch for a free consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or click the button below to book your free consultation!