What should I consider when getting a website?

Drawing of website designs Business Foundations

If you are considering getting a new website or about to make some changes read this post, it could save you time, money and a lot of heartaches.


What should I consider when getting a website?

You ask, we answer.

 

Matt Saunders, website developerMatt Saunders

Matt works with creative freelancers to help them build profitable and purposeful businesses.

The single most important factor to consider BEFORE purchasing a new website is to establish a top-level understanding of what goals the website must satisfy. This means going beyond the usual, such as “more leads”, and aiming to support each area of your business.

Most businesses offer services and products which are not delivered in isolation. An approach must be defined that will eventually lead to the prospective customer taking action. If you were to imagine a website that sells fitted blinds, for example, along with selling the actual product, the website must allow users to: make an enquiry, see pictures and testimonials for existing customers and order free samples. Each of these calls on a different function within the business: customer support, marketing, and product design respectively. Therefore, the website must satisfy these individual business functions.

Before you approach a web developer, it’s a good idea to get your team in a room for the afternoon to thrash out these goals and KPIs to ensure that you get the very best out of your web developer when it comes to scoping out and designing the website. Many businesses approach a web designer with a very vague brief, which can be costly and result in a less-effective end result. Develop a clear idea of what you want first, before making the purchase.

 

Rob Colley, founder of Plump StudioRob Colley

Rob is the founder of Plump, a creative digital agency based in York, that works with ingenuity, passion for our craft and a touch of the extraordinary to make great things online.

A website should be a valuable asset. So the first question I like to ask our clients at the discovery stage is: “Fast forward 9 or 12 months after your shiny new website is launched. What will you notice about your business?”

The purpose of this question is to dodge the inevitable kitchen-sink wish-list of features “a blog, an online quote calculator, a twitter feed” etc and to get you focused on the desired outcomes. If we start with the end in mind, eg. “an uplift in sales” or “to support the transition of my programme of in-person events to virtual events”, we can work backwards and establish the sorts of content and features that will directly contribute to achieving your goal.

It can be really helpful at this point to establish some success measures and timescales to answer the “…by how much?” and “…by when?” questions. It’s important to sense-check our goal, so the SMART targets model can be really useful here.

This exercise is important for businesses of all shapes and sizes. By focussing on only the content and features necessary to achieving your goals, you’ll be able focus your time, energy and budget on the content and features that aim towards the greatest gains. It will prevent you wasting valuable resources on things you don’t need so your website can get working harder for you sooner.

That way you get to do more of what you’re in business for.

 

Paul Fenandez founder of The Growth GuysPaul Fernandez

Paul is a co-founder of The Growth Guys,  a growth marketing agency helping businesses grow the value of their digital assets through digital advertising.

When creating a website in 2021, there are multiple factors to consider along with a plethora of providers you can choose which, for the most part, will serve you well. The most important thing is that you choose a provider that feels right for you and your business.

Once you have chosen your provider and you have your unique domain name to attach to it, you can now start creating. Now, the truth is, there are no hard and fast rules for what your website should look or feel like, however, the most important thing to consider when positioning your business via your website is User Experience, more commonly referred to as UX.

User experience (UX) focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities, and also their limitations. It also takes into account the business’s goals and objectives. UX best practices promote improving the quality of the user’s interaction with and perceptions of your product and any related services.

In order for there to be a meaningful and valuable user experience, information must be:

Useful: Your content should be original and fulfil a need.

Usable: The site must be easy to use.

Desirable: Image, identity, brand, and other design elements are used to evoke emotion and appreciation.

Findable: Content needs to be navigable and locatable onsite and offsite.

Accessible: Content needs to be accessible to people with disabilities.

Credible: Users must trust and believe what you tell them.

To finish with a quote, Seth Godin, the Godfather of marketing says; “The digital asset that matters is trust. Awareness first, then interaction, and maybe a habit, but all three mean nothing if they don’t lead to permission and trust.

 

Caren Launus-Gamble, Web Accessibility Specialist and Co-Founder of KreativeInc AgencyCaren Launus-Gamble

Caren is a Web Accessibility Specialist and C0-founder of KreativeInc Agency – accessibility driven websites.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated our digital transformation and increased online transactions. So, it is vital that your digital shop window can serve the current demands and all types of customers.

Here are my three top tips for you in terms of audience reach and website security:

If you want to reach as many customers as possible, keep them on your website and encourage them to buy from you, your site must comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Ask your web developer to design and build your site to these guidelines to make it as user-friendly as possible. Barriers are removed for people with special access needs, such as disabled and impaired people, and your website will reach a much wider target audience.

When you brief your web designer on the details of your website’s design, make sure that you think about the needs of your target audience. All too often, business owners want a website design that fits their preferences and forget about their target audience. This doesn’t make sense; it’s not you who is buying but your customers!

A website is like a car. It needs to be fuelled and maintained, or it just doesn’t work or even breaks down. Make sure to ask your web developer for a maintenance plan. This can include regularly adding fresh content such as blog posts if you don’t want to do this yourself, but, most importantly, software and security checks and updates and backups as well as accessibility maintenance. Having a well-maintained website is also a crucial part of SEO and can benefit your ranking on search engines.

 

Andrew Jones, Director of Wakefield GoWebAndrew Jones

Andrew is the founder of Wakefield GoWeb, he’s passionate about design and constantly curious about building on the web. 

Every day at GoWeb we encounter websites that are not attracting or converting visitors into customers.  As a result, businesses are throwing more money at marketing thinking if they spend more they’ll get more but most just end up wasting hard-earned cash for little or no return.

By doing a few simple fixes company websites can start performing and bringing in quality leads.

Is it easy for clients to buy from you?

Is it clear to your customer how to buy your product or service?  Call to action buttons (CTA’s) are just that, buttons that say do something. We want them to stand out, not blend into the background.

How easy is it to do business with you?  Highlight the steps but don’t make them complicated. Try to go for a three steps process and tell the customer how easy it is to do business with you.

Is your lead magnet easy to sign up for?

The process should be straightforward and offer quick wins. We all like give-aways so if I give my email address the give-away has to have value. Give your visitor an easy way to subscribe and a give-away of value and they’ll keep coming back.

Search Engine Optimisation 

Do keyword research and include keywords in your headings and image alternative text.

Is your website mobile friendly? 

The mobile experience should be as good as the desktop.  Any web design company should test on mobile as well doing cross browser checking before going live.  Make sure you ask the question before they start the work.

Two seconds or you’ll lose

Page speed is important because faster pages are more efficient.  If a page takes longer than 2 seconds to load 25% of your visitors will click away. Google includes page speed along with mobile-friendly as one of its ranking factors.

 

 

Helen ReynoldsHelen Reynolds

Helen is a freelance web content writer and copywriter, based in the beautiful city of York, growing and refreshing customer and Google-friendly web content for heritage, hospitality and businesses.

Web designers are a lovely bunch of people – creative, innovative and brilliant at making computer code sing. However a website is like a garden. Any shiny new website will need to be changed eventually.

Here are some questions to ask web designers to make sure you sign up the right one:

1.  Will we be able to access a content management system?

Some of my clients get annoyed when we start looking at their web content and they realise they can’t update the websites themselves. But often it’s because they didn’t ask their web designer for this option in the first place.

It’s like ordering a cake. ‘Please bake me a chocolate cake’ is different to ‘Please can you bake me a chocolate cake in such a way that I can change the filling later?’ The latter is of course possible – Heston Blumenthal has made an Exploding Chocolate Gateau so I’m sure he’s on the case. But it needs to be planned from the start.

Some designers use a content management system they’ve written themselves. Others use a globally-recognised system like WordPress. That’s what this website uses. There are pros and cons to both, but make sure something is in place.

2. What is your pricing structure for future changes to the website?

Of all the questions to ask web designers, this probably feels the most awkward. However as your business expands you might need a new widget or interactivity you haven’t even thought of yet. For example responsive design – where websites automatically shrink to fit the device they’re on – became a hot topic when the iPad arrived.

Your prospective web designer may prefer to quote for projects as and when needed. Or you might plump for the reassurance of a monthly or yearly retainer fee. Just agree on terms now.

3. Will the website comply with the Disability Discrimination Act? 

The DDA is not just about installing wheelchair ramps. Could a person who is blind and uses read-out-loud software access your website? What about those who can’t use a mouse? Do you really want to turn away a fifth of your potential customers? Good accessibility is also rewarded a higher ranking in Google.

Your website needs to be at least WAI Level AA. If the web designer has never heard of this, walk away.

 —

Sam Agnew, founder of Everyday PeopleBig thanks to Matt, Rob, Paul, Caren, Andrew and Helen for taking the time to share their experience and expertise, Sam

 

 


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