The famous saying from the movie Field of Dreams, “if you build it they will come” doesn’t apply to website development. You need to plan ahead, have a sound strategy for form and function working together and a plan to market the site off the web, not just on the web. Search engines will index you based on content and consistency, but SEO is only half the battle, you need to drive customers to your site from off the web too.
Here are five things you should do before you tackle a website project or enlist the help of a marketing firm to do so:
1. Think about page structure and function:
All the time clients come to me and say they just 5 pages really, then when I explain you need to have a contact us page, a photo gallery if applicable, a calendar of events, etc. it begins to add up. That’s not to say a simple site can’t happen, it can, but most likely not under 10 pages. And think about what your expectations are for the site, usually it’s a place that you want potential customers to see and a place where they can submit information, but while it’s part of the sales funnel, it’s not the beginning and the end.
2. Get your content organized:
You should begin to gather a few paragraphs about each section and also an overall paragraph of what you would like to achieve in general. Then you can discuss this with your marketing team and flesh out details.
3. Look around at other sites:
It’s great to give your marketing team an idea of other sites you like and don’t like. Of course it matters what the end customer thinks and how the competition is positioned, but it also helps to know what you as the business leader thinks personally too.
4. Photos speak volumes:
You really should have some original photography taken, not just stock photos. And most likely if you invest in a photo shoot you will use these photos for many other purposes, such as collateral, sales materials, print, etc. So it’s a wise investment. Besides, you don’t want your competition having the same photos on their site.
5. Marketing strategy:
You will want to think ahead and work with your marketing team on a plan to drive traffic to your site; too many times sites are built and then the client has no budget to actually market it. Having a site is great but if no one knows it’s there, what’s the point?
Getting your website effectively created, communicated, programmed, optimized and marketed is the whole picture. The best bet is for a business to internally focus on the content and allow an experienced marketing firm to handle the rest.