Whilst running a web design agency, naturally we have a lot of business owners sit in front of us asking us to design their new website. However, more often than not, business owners do not have a real reason for getting a new website. Now don’t get me wrong, I think EVERYONE should have a website, and sometimes a redesign is reason enough. However I think it is also important for businesses to consider why they are getting a website first and what part their website is going to play in their overall marketing strategy. All of this should happen before you design a website.
Scary phrase that; marketing strategy. And I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of business owners I know who do not have one. I will write a blog about putting together a very simple marketing plan or strategy soon. In the mean time try and jot down (yes – paper and pens still exist!) the different types of marketing you are doing, who they are reaching out too, and how your website plays a part in reaching your target market. It will help you when I come onto the 3 things I think you should consider before designing your website.
Surely my web design agency will do that for me?
Well sort of but not really. At every web design consultation we ask our potential customers “what are you looking to achieve with a new website”. Those 10 words make all the difference. However, business owners should really be considering this even before they engage in conversation with a web designer. Remember – it is your business. If you are spending between £1k – £5k on a website, you really should know why.
The 3 things to consider before you design a website
There will be other reasons (we have heard them all), however in my opinion, these are the 3 key things you need to consider before getting a new website.
1. Is it built for search?
Consideration number 1. And something most people either do not know enough about, or think they can boss (aka – be at the top of Google) as soon as their website goes live (unfortunately it is not as simple as that). We design all of our websites for search, and so should all web designers, however if you are looking to rank, you need to go beyond this. If you are building your website so as to appear on Google, and essentially gain leads through Google, two things need to happen:
- Research – careful research needs to go into the planning phase of your website to ensure your content and site is set up to (eventually) rank for keywords and phrases that are actually searched for. It is pointless focusing on keywords that do not get searches.
- Further SEO work – SEO stands for search engine optimisation (for those that were unsure), and is essential after your go live date if you want your website to rank. Depending on your targeted keywords/phrases, this could happen quickly, or it could involve a considerable amount of work to ensure your business gets onto the first page of Google.
Google ranks sites based on a variety of factors. Things such as site speed, security, content and page structure. All of these should be considered regardless, however when you are designing a website for search, you need to go above and beyond these key things.
2. Is it built to generate leads?
This could also be via the likes of Google, however on this occasion I am referring more-so to leads from ad campaigns (such as Facebook Ads or Google Adwords). If you are looking for your website to generate leads, then you certain things can be factored in at the planning phase to account for this. Some things you might wish to consider when building a lead generation site are:
- Multiple forms of contact – ensure you have a contact number and contact form. Not everyone likes to fill in contact forms, and not everyone likes to wait 24 hours for a response. So make sure you have a couple of forms of contact to maximise your leads.
- Ensure your forms are placed correctly – this is not to say that they need to be immediately in your face, however is this really a bad thing? We try and ensure that all forms are placed above the fold so that they are accessible immediately. We live in a very fast paced world, so having your users hunting around for a way to contact you will likely lose you some leads.
- Above the fold content – above the fold content is the first content your web visitor will see when hitting your website. So it is important to ensure that it is striking, geared towards your goals, and engaging.
The leads you get through from your website, are only as good as the website that is generating them. If you are building a website for lead generation purposes, make sure you tell your web designer, and make sure you consider carefully how you are going to get those leads flowing in.
3. Is it built for show?
It is important to remember that not every business is the same. There are businesses (and we have come across a few) that realistically will not rank on Google for the terms they need (without major investment), and companies where impulsive lead generation is not the answer. To cite an example – we have recently built a website for PST Associates, a Northampton based telecom’s consultancy. When we asked Paul “what are you looking to achieve with a new website”, he responded with “it is merely a reference point”. Some businesses, like Paul’s, build relationships in other ways. In his instance, he is networking and speaking with the corporates. These corporate companies only use his website as a point of reference; to build trust and to find out more about his services. Within 3 months, Paul was able to secure a large piece of business after a potential customer he was having conversations with, backed up their conversations with a trip to his website. Having a website built for show is not a bad thing, however knowing this could drastically change how you go about designing your website.
Every business is different. And so every website should be different too. Make sure you consider these 3 things before you design a website – do you want a website built for search, a website designed to generate leads, or is it built more for show?
Author: Dave Williams
Dave Williams is the founder and director of onefoursix; a digital marketing agency based in Northampton. After setting up onefoursix in 2011, Dave has gone on to grow it to one of Northampton’s finest agencies. His expertise include social media, user experience and SEO.
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