Skip the instructions and strategy for a new website and you might go psychedelic!
Your mailorder website has arrived. You tear into the box, an pull out the parts, like Flashy Stuff to Impress Your Boss, SEO Pak (optional), and a Velcro® Navigation Bar. Just grab the handy hex tool, muddle through the instructions in Swedish and cross your fingers. If your assembly line bookcase breaks, you can kick it to the curb. Unfortunately, the plug and play approach for a website has serious consequences.
Building a website without a coherent plan will harm your company’s business competitiveness, lead generation, traffic and reputation. And it’s too expensive to too toss in the dumpster. Fixing or rebuilding your site could cost thousands of dollars, not to mention lost time and opportunity.
Web Strategy: Write the Instructions
Web sites are capital expenditures for most companies, so you shouldn’t order one up like a burger without knowing precisely what you want it to do. Work these out with your internal team or with a trusted web agency (like Ideopia, of course!).
1. Business Objectives
Define the revenue goals for your company or division.
Discuss new initiatives. Are you launching a new line, or moving into a new market? The information is critical to designing your new site.
2. Barrier to Sale
Every company has one. Write it down, and make sure your site addresses it.
3. Web Strategy
What is the value proposition or strategy of the business and how does it translate into a web presence?
4. Search Engine Optimization
Carefully choose 15- to 20 keywords, or keyword phrases that you wish to rank on in search engines. The most effective SEO is designed before the development of site architecture, design and copy.
5. Content Plan
Involve as many people as possible in generating ideas for content. But set the expectation that the purpose of the site is to support business objectives, not pump up egos or pet projects. Remember, the search ranking and success of your site will depend on the relevance of its content.
6. Site Plan
Use a whiteboard, or sticky notes, and sketch out all the key pages in the site and what they do. Arrange them so they support the web and content strategy. It’s simple, the important stuff gets moved to the top of the site.
7. Paper Prototype or Wireframe
Test the logic of your new site by creating a prototype with normal office paper. One piece per page. Sketch out the navigation in detail, and work out the function of applications, like long forms. You don’t need a special program, or even the ability to draw a straight line.
8. User Testing
Find out if your customers understand the site’s navigation, labels for major sections, or how to use an app. You can perform user tests yourself, and you can to one on a cleaned up version of your paper prototype. Skip at your own peril.
9. Product Backlog
Finalize the content and structure of your site by creating a product backlog in a spreadsheet. It should include the directory names, text for SEO; and page contents, including images, copy, animation, and any functional items.
Now you’re ready to track your project and start building a web site. And with any luck, you won’t have any screws leftover.
To learn more about web strategy at Ideopia, call Mike Bober at 513-947-1444 x15. He might be able to help put together your bookshelf, too.