“We need a new website!”
It’s a great thought, but it’s rather putting the cart before the horse. Instead, think about the business problem or challenges that you want your website to solve for you.
- We need to generate more leads
- We need a point of reference for our prospects and clients that showcases our brand
- We need a way to facilitate transactions online
- We need to help customers understand our products and make the right choices
Like any other business project that requires investment, it needs to be able to offer value. So, you need to be sure of what you want to achieve, and how you’re going to measure its success.
“Build it and they will come!”
Er, no they won’t. At least, not if you’re buried on page 134 of a Google search result. Thinking about where your visitors will come from (and where you want them to come from) generates another set of questions. Will your prospects come from advertising, organic search, business development directors or social media links? How much will you need to invest in associated business activities, such as SEO, events and marketing campaigns to drive traffic to your site?
“Here’s what we want to say.”
Uh-uh, think again. Your content should not be about what you want to say – it needs to deliver the right experience and information for the user. Three pages on why your company is the best and all competitors are rubbish won’t cut it, if you’re not engaging with the reader’s emotional and practical needs.
Here are the three questions your website really needs to answer:
- “What’s in it for me?“ – Whatever your product or proposition is, present it in a way that resonates with users. Solve their problems, speak their language, show that you understand them.
- “Why should I bother?“ – Articulate (or illustrate) the benefits clearly, including the ‘why they should buy from you’ part. Use examples and make your brand stand out by showing them, rather than telling them.
- “What’s next?” – Lead your site visitor along a clearly signposted path that leads them to a relevant call to action. Don’t leave them lost or wondering where to click next – take them on an inviting journey (with, you hope, an inevitable conclusion).
And three more tips for success:
- Work to clear personas: if your website has to perform different functions for different people, the who, what and how for all of them needs to be addressed right from the beginning (in both your messaging and your architecture). User journeys need to be clear and relevant for everyone.
- Agree your key messages and outline content before starting on wireframes or designs. What goes on your site should be your first thought, not your last.
- Keep it visual, but don’t sacrifice valuable content for the sake of sleekness (Google won’t like it so much, either, if your word count is low on every page). There’s no point in having a great looking site if it doesn’t actually do what it’s supposed to do.
One of our favourite examples at the moment is the newly-refreshed Wilson Browne website, which blows the cobwebs off any preconceptions about law firms being stuffy, and gets right to the point in a clear and compelling way.