When it’s time for a new website for your business, it can be easy to get swept up in the planning process and start choosing designs, features, and functions from other sites you like. And while it’s great to have inspiration, a good website team will be able to create a site based on your answers to the below questions that not only looks great, but also works for your business. Make sure you know the answers to these three questions before design on your new website begins.
1. What is your primary goal for the site?
Many business owners don’t even consider this question. They know they need to have a decent looking website, but their goal for the site doesn’t go beyond that. Having a primary goal for the site helps maintain focus and makes it easier to make design decisions later on in the project, ultimately resulting in a much more effective website.
A few common goal examples:
• Get users to purchase products
• Provide important information to your visitors
• Generate leads
• Get people to contact you via phone
• Get people to visit your store
• Establish credibility/authority in your industry
• Build brand hype or awareness
• Show off a portfolio of work or testimonials
• Gather consumer feedback
• Maximize website traffic (e.g., if you’re making money on advertising)
All of these may be important for your site, but one primary goal gives your design and development team something to coordinate and focus their efforts around, which means they can work more efficiently.
If you’re having trouble narrowing it down, a helpful exercise is to first list everything you’d like your website to achieve (multiple goals), then arrange them in order of priority. I like to draw it with a “greater than” symbol, so writing “Sell products > Get people to visit my store > Establish credibility” would mean that selling my products online would be my most important goal, while getting people to visit my store is important but not paramount.
2. How will you measure success?
Is it website traffic shown in Google Analytics? Is it shopping cart checkouts? Is it form entry conversions? The more objective and data-centric you can be, the better. Your own tastes and preferences count for something, of course, but the numbers should really be driving your choices. Having an objective standard of measuring success will also enable you to do some A/B testing to see how certain configurations or designs either help you or hinder you from reaching your primary goal.
3. Who are your users?
Identifying your target demographic is definitely a part of this, but it’s not the whole story. It’s often helpful to think of several different profiles or “user stories” which describe the people who are visiting your site and what they might be looking for. For example, you might have one type of visitor who has never heard of your product before, but is interested in meeting a certain need in their life. You may have another type of visitor who already loves your product and is just coming back to re-order or learn about your other offerings. And you may have another type of visitor who may have a question or complaint about your product, and is just looking for a way to get in touch. The goal of website design is to create an experience that’s as frictionless as possible for each of these characters.
Other answers that will help your web team out:
- How you want your website to “feel” to visitors? (e.g. Light and airy? Strong and authoritative? Whimsical? Minimalistic? Content-rich? Urbane?)
- Are you able to provide your logo in a vector format (not JPG or PNG)?
- Do you have any brand standards (e.g. color, font, and photo guidelines, ideally in an official document)?
- Can you provide any existing marketing materials (brochures, landing pages, etc.) with which you’d like to keep your website consistent?
- Do you want to use the content from your existing website, or replace/rewrite/tweak it first?
- How often do you plan on updating/editing your website, and what content will you be updating?
- Are there any legal requirements to be mindful of on the new website (PCI compliance, ADA compliance, privacy policies, etc.).