There comes a time when the corporate website that once met all your criteria starts looking a little like yesterday’s offerings design-wise and is now missing the mark from a marketing perspective. Tell-tale signs may be subtle such as the visitors bounce* rate increasing as the website fails to convince visitors that you are a worthy offering or the signs may be more obvious in that the website is just not up to date with expected content such as social media integration, compliance with popular browsers and standards or being ready for the mobile market place.
From experience the following is a consolidation of some of the points you may need to consider when undertaking the rework of your website.
Define the objectives of having a website as once you’ve done this all the subsequent decisions you have to make fall in place as they are either in line with these objectives or they are not.
On large projects there can be much detail that really must be concluded before the project starts. Once concluded the entire web development team will understand exactly what has to be delivered and when, and as the website owner you will also know that it will meet your defined objectives.
The blueprinting process often opens up the minds to further specification improvements and content as it encourages all involved to review the finer detail of the website facilities.
Websites that are properly blueprinted have always turned out to be good performers and the relationship between the development team and the customer has been excellent.
Cost-wise; as the project runs to a mutually agreed plan there is far less scope for budget irregularities.
Your Current Website
When you put together your initial website, there would likely have been great thought and deliberation as to what was included and how. Despite the old website now looking dismal beside the competition’s new feature rich website, so many companies will totally disregard the good that is present in their old website. Be very careful not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. Apart from quality content that may need to transfer to the new website after reworking, the search engines and other referrers will have linked to the pages in your website.
Your Development Team.
In the past your website may well have required the basic skills of a developer and maybe a designer. Consider the content and your aspirations and ask yourself if your current incumbent team is complete and can offer you:
- Web development that brings commercial return
- A team of people with whom you are comfortable working
- The resources you’ll need to grow your website including:
- Web coding so the fundamental HTML code is right
- Programming so the website facilities function to your specifications including Mobile standards and general fall back solutions where Flash and other resources are not supported on the visitor’s browser
- Copywriting that both fits your industry style and finds favour with the search engines
- Photography so you avoid poor images that so often degrade what could be a quality website; afford professional or quality photography
- Video as a powerful and effective way to engage the visitor and also finds favour with the search engines
- Search engine optimisation
- Search engine marketing
- Social media
The Internet marketing team you choose for the next part of your journey needs to have a lot more bases covered than was the case a few years ago if you are to rise above the bland mediocrity of basic websites and have a true commercial success.
The Creative Design
This is the most subjective of all the components. Having a professional creative team that understands both design for web and the norms of your market places will undoubtedly make for a professional result that wins business. So many creatives are stuck in the “design for print world” and do not engage with the dynamic medium of a website. With dynamic new technologies such as jQuery and AJAX, webpages are written to dynamically change according to input giving more efficient pages and a much improved customer experience.
The creative team will work with you and your developers to conclude the navigation tree so that your information is presented in the most effective fashion and in such a way that we lead the visitor through the punchy introduction via the convincers to the call to action. If that simple process is not instinctively engrained in the team’s approach then find someone else.
The Platform and Programming
Do not be wooed by a web development team that wants to build your website with some obscure technology. Stay mainstream with all your resources unless there is a very good reason why not to. If you go “off piste” then you’ll find that there are fewer developers prepared to take your website on with a technology that they do not support and fewer pre-developed resources online so you’ll be paying for bespoke development from scratch for new modules. Examples of mainstream solutions include Linux with PHP & MySQL or Microsoft with ASP & SQL.
Your Online Marketing
The possible routes to market online are now extensive and affordable to all. Have a sound plan in mind that will accommodate all channels including social media, newsletters/mailings, website news, blogging, article publication and other avenues that fit comfortably in your marketing mix. Importantly remember that your website and online marketing are not to be done in isolation and absolutely must seamlessly integrate with your internal systems and traditional marketing. Choose a web development team that understands the benefits of combining multiple channels of communication and better still offers them.
The opt-in newsletter/mailings can be extended further by adding an autoresponder series so that your worthy pre-prepared messages are delivered periodically to your schedule.
Once a website is launched the online marketing offered by your web development team should monitor performance in line with the client’s objectives and the Internet norms and in turn make website changes according to the feedback received. Continuous improvement and following marketing opportunities are key to keeping your website commercially successful for years to come. Keep testing, measuring and improving.
Your Website Hosting
Budget hosting should be avoided; slow servers that are maxed out for profit will cost you dearly. Slow delivery of website content not only turns visitors away but also has an effect on your Google ranking. Your web development marketing company should be monitoring this as one part of your search engine marketing they do for you.
These are just some of the key elements from 16 years of experience and worth considering when redeveloping your website.
About the Author
Simon Thomas of Toucan Internet LLP has 18 years direct marketing experience prior to embracing the new Internet marketing channels that emerged in 1995. He heads the multiple disciplinary team of professionals at Toucan Internet LLP supporting clients of all sizes and markets where the client is looking for a professional Internet marketing partner with a long proven track record.
To find out more about Toucan Internet LLP please feel free to contact Simon at the contact points
t: +44 1279 871 694