A guide to planning your new website

Success lies in the groundwork: a guide to planning your new website

So you've decided to invest in a new website for your business, and your internal project team is already talking about colour palettes, dancing gizmos and funky design features... Hold up, slow everyone down and take a breath. A website is an investment and requires solid, structured planning to really meet your business goals. Design Agency decided to take a look at what's needed to get it right. The importance of process Successful web design is delivered on the back of solid, careful and painstaking planning, often undertaken over a period of time. Strategy will drive success, supported by the right goals. Don't dive in until you've established these. Here are some key considerations to work through:

1. Why are you redesigning?

Be absolutely clear on your business drivers for web development, as these will help to define your measures of success. The best redesign projects generally seek meaningful ways to leverage a new digital asset to meet fundamental business objectives and goals. The incorporation of the latest design trends is nice to have certainly, but not key for attaining that all-important ROI. The sort of goals you'll be looking for is an uptake in leads, views and interaction overall. How will you track these goals? Answers to these questions will help to create your business case and ensure everyone is working towards the same objectives.

2. Evaluate your existing website performance

It's good practice to constantly evaluate website performance, but many businesses simply lack the resources to do this. Now's the time to dive into analytics and find out how visitors are using your site. This will provide baseline information for later user testing and flag up any problem areas that need to be prioritised for a fix within the new site. For example, if you find that a page hosting a vital sign-up form is experiencing a high bounce rate, you'll need to understand the reasons why. Is the call to action poor, or the content lacking in description? Is the form inaccessible to some groups or clunky to load? Prioritise fixes to these issues.

3. Check out the competition

Assess what your competitors are doing in terms of their websites' functionality, content and features. This competitive analysis will help to understand what is working well in the marketplace, and where there are opportunities for you to do better. It will also flag up industry trends and help you to define what is really important for your own new site.

4. Look at the functionality you need

Technical and functional requirements are essential to know, ideally before you even begin to work with your chosen agency. Gather a list and work with key stakeholders across the business to capture any gems that the marketing team might otherwise miss (as an added bonus, this will help with internal adoption of the new site by helping staff to feel engaged in the process). Know which functions are essential and which are simply nice to have. The important thing is to make sure your visitors have a seamless, rewarding experience on your site and can carry out their desired actions.

5. Develop your strategy

Take the website objectives, goals and desires one step further into a strategy. This will clarify the challenges and your plans to solving them with the new site. It will define success measures over time and confirm who will be responsible for the site's regular updating, quality management, content development, posting and so forth. You might want to work with your chosen agency to help successfully complete this stage.

6. Ascertain the new site's overall value proposition

Any marketer worth their salt will tell you how essential a value proposition is for any digital project, as it drives overall direction and leverages purpose, while helping to maintain brand values. The right value proposition will capture the attention of your visitors and keep them on your site, immediately demonstrating the benefits of your offer. Take your time to get this right. Follow these six steps carefully, work closely with your chosen digital agency and question your assumptions at each stage of the website planning stage - and look forward to a fantastic website that delivers the right ROI for the longer-term.

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