So, you think you want a website? 4 things to consider

So, you’ve decided that your company should probably invest in a website. You’ve heard that they can be good for business and ‘everything seems to be online these days’ but you’re not really sure exactly how a website could help you and aren’t really sure what you want.

Unfortunately this situation could now go quickly downhill, you could get some bad advice, become completely confused and annoyed by the amount of jargon and ‘technical nonsense’ involved in the whole process and end up paying someone too much money to come up with something that doesn’t do what you want, doesn’t look how you want and is basically a complete waste of everyone’s time.

Or, you could read the rest of this post and hopefully pick up some useful information. This is by no means an exhaustive list but should hopefully start to get you thinking along the right lines when it comes to working with a designer on a new website.

Things to consider with a new website
Before you even contact any web design agencies for quotes I would strongly recommend that you have a think about some, or ideally all, of the following points. It will make the whole process far easier and more productive.

1. What does your business do?
It’s frightening how many people, when asked this question, can’t give a clear answer. If you don’t know what you do, how is a designer supposed to develop a site that accurately reflects what the business does!?
Have a proper analysis of what your business does, what its primary aims are and how you go about achieving those. e.g. we are a fantastic deli who provide delicious, locally-sourced, organic food at our shop in Leeds. We also provide a delivery service and we cater for events such as parties and weddings.
Now this is just a bit of an example but I hope it’s clear that if you can clearly define what your business does then it is far easier for the designer (i.e. me) to come up with a site that properly represents these strengths and communicates them effectively. A confusing web presence is, in my opinion, almost more damaging than having no web presence at all.

2. what do you want your website to achieve?
give some thought to how you will measure if the website is successful. just having a website is no good if it doesn’t have a clear goal (or goals) and purpose. e.g. i want to use the website as part of a co-ordinated campaign to increase telephone sales by 10% or i want to grow the number of contacts on my mailing list by 20%. Again, these are simplistic examples but they link in to the first point i made, being able to identify what your business does and what you want the website to achieve will result in a far clearer, more focussed, more useful website and will result in a better return on your investment.
NOTE!!! – don’t draw up a list of hundreds of goals you want your website to achieve, this is worse than having no clear defined goal at all.

3. what are your competitors doing?
take a look at the websites/online activity of your competitors. if you don’t know who your competitors are then, as a matter of urgency, carry out a SWOT analysis of your business!
have a look at what they are doing, how the are interacting with their customers and make a note of what you like/don’t like about their website, pay particular attention to how the site is structured, is it easy to find everything you want? etc.

4. what do you like the look of?
now this may be an obvious point but it’s one i feel i need to make anyway, work out what you like. make a note of sites that you like the look of but more importantly try to think about why you like what you like. e.g. i like the large header image, it grabs my attention and is a good way of using their logo in a high-impact way. or i like their navigation, it’s easy to use and it looks cool!
equally i would say don’t necessarily restrict your design opinions to website but do think about how they can translate to the web e.g. i really like the look of old, red BT phoneboxes, i love the color or i love the layout of the windows or whatever it is you like and think about how that can be applied in the context of a website.

i’m going to continue this list later this week…