Launching a new website is a big deal, launching a crap website is a much bigger deal.
So, you’ve decided that you need a new website and you’re already sh!tting yourself because you’re beginning to realise that it’s a pretty big commitment. Do not fear, this kick-ass guide is here!
Close your eyes and I’ll paint a couple of pictures for you (don’t actually close your eyes):
If you follow this guide: It’s three months down the line and you’re rushed off your feet, demand for your business has gone through the roof and you need to find time to go and pick up your new Ferrari*.
If you don’t follow this guide: It’s three months down the line and you’re rushed off your feet, still trying to get that damn website project completed so you can
get some sleep catch up on Game of Thrones.
Define your goals.
You have some soul searching to do here. Think back to the moment you decided that you need to build a new website and try to remember why the hell you thought it was so necessary. The most likely reason you want to develop a new website is to promote your business, share your insightful content and to generate more sales but you might also have other motives.
Set yourself between three and five measurable and realistic goals in order of their importance, write them down and share them with absolutely everyone involved in the project. These goals are how you’re going to make decisions throughout the process and how you’ll inevitably determine the success of the project.
What’s on your wish list?
Make a list of key features, elements and abilities that you need your new website to incorporate. You might need to be able to update it regularly or perhaps you’d like to link up a feed from your YouTube channel to keep your website fresh with up-to-date content. You also need to consider the technical aspects such as your security requirements as well as hosting and domain names.
Split your wish list into headings from ‘Essential’ down to ‘Would be nice’ taking into consideration how they affect each of your goals. Again, share this list with everyone.
What’s already working?
If you don’t already have a website then you don’t need to worry about this step.
Take an in-depth look at the analytics and metrics for your existing website and see what’s working. See if there’s anything you can learn from and carry over to your new website to shorten the learning curve!
Just as importantly you need to find the weak points of your site and make them a key priority to concentrate on in the next iteration. It might be the case that your homepage does a great job of capturing your visitors’ attention but they fall off before reaching your contact page.
Find the inspiration.
I once had a client who told me that his website would need to be inspired by Adele’s Skyfall – to any corporates out there this would sound like a ridiculous request but us creatives understand exactly what he meant.
Inspiration for a new website can come from anywhere. Spend an evening losing yourself in Pinterest or if you’re feeling adventurous dive into the Awwwards website to find some leading trends and concepts. Don’t be afraid to make your inspiration quirky, abstract references are just as helpful as mood boards and other sites.
Consider your visitors.
Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to go too wild with your new website, you have to make sure that you’re communicating effectively with your target audience otherwise you risk failing on all of your goals.
Who are they? How did they find your site? What information are they looking for? What device are they using? Have they interacted with you before?
You’ll usually end up with a few different visitor personas which should give you a good starting point to begin considering how be to speak to them and convince them that you can outshine your competitors.
Eye up the competition.
Like you, your competitors have high hopes for the performance of their websites. It’s worth looking around to see if anyone has found a breakthrough in layout, features or message.
It’s also a good idea to look further afield to see what the global leaders in your industry are doing with their websites, they’re probably investing much more than you are into researching what works so you might as well learn something from it!
Remember: Good artists copy, great artists steal.
Content is King.
A website is worthless unless you’re preaching something interesting and valuable to your visitors. You must engage with your visitors to keep them around long enough for you to make friends and convert them into a paying customer.
Based on your goals and audience develop the message that you’re going to portray and use this as a starting point for the rest of your content. Everything from your main introduction down to your 404 page needs to be written with your visitors in mind.
Master the execution.
By this stage, you probably have a good idea of how your site is going look, what features you might need and how best to show your message. Taking into consideration your budget, timelines, expectations, goals and personal skillset you should start thinking about how you’re going to execute the project.
There’s a variety of options when it comes to building the site. You may choose to design and develop the site yourself using your bad-ass programming skills, you may which to use a third-party platform like WordPress or you might outsource parts or all of the process to a freelancer or agency.
If you plan on getting other people involved in your project you’ll want to make sure that they know what they’re talking about and more importantly, make sure they know what you’re talking about. Sharing is caring.
Good luck, hopefully, if you follow this guide you won’t need any.
*While stocks last.