I was recently asked this very question and it made me realize that there are a lot of business owners who just aren't savvy on these kinds of things.
This also sparked an interest to see if other companies had outlined a "process" of sorts to help these business owners identify the right way to handle this task. Well, it looks like if it had been answered the guides were incomplete at best and wrong more often than not. There were many answers like "look at your competitor's websites" or "find a designer". While I guess that's not wrong, I believe it's the wrong way to address the larger problem at hand of determining why you need a new website to start with.
There are two schools of thought on building out a business' website. First, you can just build a site that resonates with the business owner, add features and photos that the owner likes and launch it. Typically these types of websites don't resonate with the client who would be purchasing, has too much or too little going on, or there is no value behind the content on the website.
Have I built sites like this? Well, yes and for start-ups with a limited budget, I still do.
When I first started doing designs for my clients I took all the things that they asked for, built a site that matched their vision and worked until everything was exactly how they envisioned the site.
Did it work? You'd have to define "work" but I think it provided them a new website they liked. Did it bring in a bunch of new business or help the business grow? No.
This mentality of building websites is old school. Do designers still operate this way with established companies? Yup and in the end, the designer gets paid and the client gets exactly what they asked for, a website.
The second school of thought on building websites is to build a platform to help your business grow. Is a part of that platform a website, absolutely. The website is the base of your digital presence and nearly all of your digital marketing efforts will route traffic back to this website. So should the website be built so that the business owner like how it feels, or so that the business' ideal client connects with the brand and want to work with that company? I'd say the latter. Your website should work as an employee of your business 24/7.
If you're just starting out, your businesses brand will typically match your personality meaning that they could essentially be one in the same. This said, your first website was probably designed using the first school of thought and probably worked for a while. As your business has evolved you realize your old website just isn't working anymore. Your established brand is resonating with your existing clients and they're providing referrals but why isn't your business growing like it once was. Let's start working out your new website and we'll start by asking why.
Typically the answer we hear is that you're not getting any sales or leads from the site anymore. That's understandable since your business has evolved over time and so have your clients. In order to get you to the best website of your life, we need to ask a lot of questions.
Let's start with the easy one:
If I'm right, (having no way to know who is reading this article) you probably said or thought something like, "I need a new website because I'm not getting enough sales/leads/traffic." Don't be afraid if I guessed correctly, that is the number one reason people feel they need a new website and you're not alone. Other reasons you might have this thought is that you don't have a mobile-friendly website, it hasn't been updated in years, or the more sadistic someone made fun of it. All of which are completely valid reasons to want a new website. But knowing this lets us dive a little deeper.
This is the one question that many people forget to ask themselves when starting the process. It's actually more important than why you think you need a new website. More than likely you should have answered this question quickly as in "I want more leads, sales, or traffic." but I urge you to dive deeper and keep asking yourself "why" until you can't provide an answer.
Once you've reached that magical part of the equation "WHY", you'll unlock so many great things for your business. We recommend taking some time to answer these questions and write them down.
I need a new website because my business needs more leads to allow our sales team to convert more clients and increase our annual revenue. This increased revenue will allow the business to provide health care to our employees and their families, and better maintain our service level to our clients.
You know a lot more about your business and have written out your goal.
Using the above example, the driver for your new website was initially just creating new leads, but you learned that more leads equated to staying in business through the means of keeping your employees happy by providing them with health care. With this information, we can start building a plan of action to build a solid website that with help your business achieve its goals.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this series.
Now that you know what your true goal is, which school of thought do you think will be the best fit for achieving your business goals? I bet you and I are in the same boat now.