After a short break away from blogging due to lending an artistic hand to our lovely new website (you may have noticed…you didn’t mention anything?) I’m back to talk business and what better topic to discuss this week than your website.
Yes, whether building from the foundations up, or making over your old site, I want to look at how you can make the process as stress free and as successful as possible.
The great thing about building your own website or having on-site developers is that you can waltz over, tap them on the shoulder (maybe do it a few times) give your input and have it transmitted exactly how you envisioned. This has certainly come in handy when I’ve poked my nose into the website plan in the last fortnight. However, when assigning a third party to build your site for you, this process becomes much more complex – how do you get your voice heard over the professional developer?
Someone is needed to bridge the gap between the developer and the target audience, to carry across all the company ideas and aspirations in a way that won’t have the developer tearing their hair out. And I think I’ve observed just enough site-build objections on the BBC’s ‘Permission Impossible’ this week to know exactly what’s needed…
With everyone and their dog wanting a website, developers aren’t short of work and you may find that some will build your site quickly with minimal resources which will ultimately not be optimised for your specific audience.
You need someone to provide permission, the voice of reason sent in to watch over any developers potentially cashing in without a thought to the end viewer.
This, business owners, is down to you.
So where do you begin? Well, the key is, don’t be shy. By putting your two-cents towards the website plan whether it be research, structure, design, content and communicating what is and isn’t possible SOONER rather than later you are making the developer’s job much easier.
We’ve put together some crucial elements for your website plan that you can supply to aid the developer, ensure the best visual and structural outcome for your end-viewer and to ensure you don’t end up with the Berlin Wall at the end of your beautiful estate…
#1 The Blueprints
If you know how you want your site structured, let the developer know with a basic site map. This can be done quickly and easily with many online tools such as slickplan. Keep in mind that the developer may want to alter your layout slightly for SEO purposes so be prepared for minor adjustments.
#2 The Neighbours
Study other sites. See what your competitors are doing, what you like about it, what you don’t like about it. Elements of a site that you like can be sent over as examples to your developer in a wish list.
#3 The Materials
I’m sure it’s the same with a lot of professions, but you’d still be surprised at the number of people who ask for a website and then give you…well, nothing. No content, no logo, no images. After all, you can’t even begin to build that ten-foot dinosaur to watch over your neighbours garden if you don’t have the materials! So if you have some images, stories or copy filed away, dig it out sooner rather than later. Not doing so could result in your site going live with ‘image coming soon’, an empty news feed, half-hearted, weak content or worse – Lorum Ipsum everywhere.
#4 The Research
Whether you’re writing your content yourself, having it transferred over from an old site or getting a third party copywriter, it’s best to do some keyword research and hand your findings over to the developer. This way, they can create and optimise pages for each of your target search terms.
#5 The Draft
SEO has shifted towards quality, regular content in the last few years and so it’s worth getting your thinking caps on and drafting up some blogs about hot topics in your industry. Include a blog or news feed in your site plan before you send it across and if you wish to update regularly yourself, make sure your developer builds a blog page with an easy-to-use content management system that enables you to log in and edit your posts.
#6 The Application
Probably one of the most important points but can sometimes go amiss if you don’t apply your business goals to the developer – calls to action. If your business goal is to get people to view your guide or visit your store, then you need to include ‘Download our Guide’ or ‘Visit Our Store’ – something that directly drives the viewer to take action and lead them to your ultimate goals or landing pages.
#7 The Residents
The majority of businesses will now communicate to their target audience through some form of social platforms. If you have a social presence, you need it to be clear in your website plan so send over any URLs for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn etc that the developers can link on your homepage. If you update regularly, it’s a great way to direct your audience to some real-time news relating to your company. If part of your wish-list includes a live social feed, then you may also need to provide some of your social logins and passwords as well as the URLs.
So as much as peeping-Tom windows, watch-tower style tree houses and terrifying OAP pickets may make for entertaining viewing, both parties need the planner to ensure the best outcome. And it’s the same for your website. Although the developer knows the coding, YOU know the customer. So get planning, keep your developer tuned in and make sure your transmission doesn’t go unheard!