As businesses move online, everyone needs a web presence. Every product ranging from SaaS software to fragmented soaps shop needs a website to educate their users and even make a purchase.
One always imagines a fairy tale to their website- Build a silver shiny website where people would read on, grasp the message, get convinced, sign up, and pay dollars.
The only dark side of this story is that it is seldom true.
Upto 90% of websites on the internet are not visited by anyone except the owners themselves.
Just like anything else, website development too needs a proper plan that when executed well takes the guesswork out of the equation.
In this blog, we help you with 15 questions that you need to ask yourself before building your website. Finding answers to these questions will lead you to decipher your own latent needs and discover the why behind the what. When you do this, it will make your decision-making easy in terms of what goes on the website, what is highlighted on the homepage, what comes in the menu, and so on.
Go ahead and read- 15 questions that any marketing website owner should answer before building the website.
This question paves the foundation of your journey to build a website. You need to write down the purpose of your website. Why are you building this? Is your objective educating the customer or is it selling online or what. This forms the basis of many decisions that you would take gradually.
You need to think about the goals of your website, the need for it so as to avoid building an aimless chaotic page on the internet without serving any purpose.
This is part of question one but applicable to those who already have a website but want to build a new one. If you require a new website because the current one lacks stickiness, you do not want to make the same mistake twice? Right?
Start by writing down why you need to upgrade and the objective of the new website.
For many people, it may not be as simple as it may sound. Many times when I discuss website requirements with founders, their reason to upgrade is
“I just don’t like it. It’s plain and simple. I want something like XYZ.com”
You can’t copy a website strategy just like you cannot copy Berkshire Hathaway stocks list. Why? Because you do not know why they have done what they have done and when they plan to change it.
Additionally, you have to find reasons why the current website has not worked. Is it the website structure, content, SEO, or all of them?
This question asks about the identification of your audience, which indeed is the most important part of any website strategy. You have to identify who you are building for.
Identifying your target audience before designing your website would help you take your other decisions such as appropriate content, the look, and feel, brand attributes, etc.
A user persona usually has interests, demographics, technical ability, likes, and dislikes defined for the end-user. Your platform can have multiple user personas as well.
When you have understood the target audience of your website and their journey to your website, the next question is what users want. You need to understand your visitor’s motivation and plan the information map for your website accordingly.
A user is knocking on your door. If they get what they are looking for, they would decide to stay on your website and maybe do the transaction as well.
Hence your website development process should be constantly thinking about the end-users. Your website copy should be written keeping the users in mind similarly.
Once you have understood the purpose of your website, the next thing is what you want on your website. At this point, you should think through what is important and what is not so important while you build your vision.
It is important to say no to things as well because otherwise including everything may end up cluttering your website and increase the complexity.
A useful way to judge this could be by understanding your target audience and considering things that are most important for them.
Different websites would have different priorities according to the nature of the business. While an eCommerce website would focus on the placement of items, reviews, and urgency to buy, a B2B service agency website should focus on social proof, differentiators and answering why they should be considered.
You should have a must-have list and a nice to have a list.
Here is a list of ideas to choose from
Brand attributes define the main properties of your brand/company and its influence on the users. This includes logos, typography, colors, packaging, and messaging, and it complements and reinforces the existing reputation of a brand.
Brand identity attracts new customers to a brand while making existing customers feel at home.
If you are a new brand, then you should invest time in building a user persona and the top things that your brand would be recognized for. Would it be innovation, environmental consciousness, process, customer care, predictability, assurance, and so on?
You have to find out “What are the things that my customers think or would be thinking when my brand comes to their mind?”
Once you have that sorted, you should have your brand attributes such as color, logo, typography, etc reflect it.
Great artists steal. If something works for someone, learn from it. If something is failing from someone, then too learn from it.
Try understanding the reasoning behind why some websites are designed the way they are as well as the design decisions that have been taken.
Not only you should check out your direct competitors but also indirect ones as well as just websites over the internet.
Awwwards, UX Awards, The Webby Awards, SiteInspire, Best Website Gallery, and FWA are good places to find websites that are trending on the internet recently.
After checking out the websites of different brands you need to lay out the features that you liked as a user and the features that you didn’t. Such an exercise often leads to your epiphany.
CTA refers to call-to-action that encourages a user to carry out a certain action while being on the website. This question wants you to address the main things about your brand that any user may find useful and make him click.
You need to consider the highlighted product or service offered by your brand or the most important thing that you want your user to do next.
Do you want the user to book a meeting or download some report or download an app?
The more clear you are about CTAs the more embedded and naturally they can be placed within your website.
Knowing the channels through which your users will come to your website will help you optimize your website according to mediums.
Decide whether mobile or web is more important for you.
Would your website be heavy on videos or pictures?
The search phrases that will lead to your website.
Thinking about web traffic resources in advance such as search engine optimization, paid advertising, social media will help your team define a better plan and make it part of the decision making. These thoughts would often lead to ideas about landing pages, CTAs, user journeys, which in turn will improve your website interaction with the user.
As soon as your website is designed and released on the internet, you need to plan the methods to escalate the traffic on your website. For this purpose, you can use several methods such as social media, brand collaboration shout-outs, advertisements, etc. These methods are most crucial for growth.
For a vision to become a reality a lot of moving parts have to move in cohesion.
To keep things in sync, it is important that stakeholders from the website plan to development are identified and made responsible for the particular area of work.
Even within the development, there are different stages from the overall consultation to individual page approval, content, and launch.
Having the responsible people identified for each part helps set up communication cadence as well as shared responsibilities.
Just like at the start we emphasized setting the goal for the website, parameters to measure the success of website development need to be finalized as well.
Through these parameters, you can set your development team KPIs as well as the benchmark for work. The team too is clear on what is expected of them leading to more chances of success.
Your parameters could be anything from website score to website speed. There are different tools such as GT Metrix, Google speed test, Google Mobile-Friendly test, etc can be used to make these parameters data-backed.
Just like success factors, you can define failure reasons as well. This can help the team with proactive planning on what to avoid. Here you need to think about the risks that can occur while building and launching your website and ways to mitigate them.
Failure reasons can be identified from what may have not worked for you in the past or any failure story that you have come across.
Failure parameters can also be identified from customer experiences like page errors, high bounce rate, cart abandonment and payment issues.
Your menu bar at the top is your key real estate on the website.
An explicit plan for the same hence makes merit. It is natural for the user to use your navigation bar to decide on where they go next. If the navigation bar is in line with the user’s experience there is more chance for the user to continue their journey on the website. If the menu bar is confusing, the user may lose interest and abandon in between.
Make things easy for the user and your pages or items should be categorized on predictable lines. It’s like the real-life menu card which if made interesting will result in more orders
Just like menu items, your home page is the most important page. For most websites, it is the most visited page. Your homepage is your first interaction with a user. Hence, it is important to decide what content to put on the front page and what not to?
You will have to find a balance between putting too little or too much information on the home page. Come up with a list of content, features, or copy that absolutely must be featured upfront.
As shared earlier, a priority of information can be different kinds of companies. While eCommerce companies should have a focus on conversion on the home page itself, a service company may need to put more emphasis on testimonials, case studies, and brand persona.
The page should have a balance of CTA, easy wins, social proof, and so on.
Having a budget and timeline in mind can help avoid scope creep. Communicating the same to your team in advance will help the team make the priorities right and make suggestions to you.
You should choose quality over quantity and a nicely done website over rushed timelines.
A good framework is to always divide your website work into phases with each phase helping you learn and take feedback to plan for the next phase.
Answers to the above question would lead you to far more clarity in terms of your website plan. Building a successful website is as difficult as building a brand. Hence proper planning should go into building a website even if it is just a static website of a few pages or a full web application.
A proper plan also sets up a strong fundamental plan for content and further growth since you would know why certain flows or elements are there on your website and not get confused with the myriad of ideas available on the internet.
If you have any further questions or thoughts you would like to discuss, feel free to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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