Your company’s website needs to be redesigned and you’re the one in charge. What do you do?
If you’re like most marketers, you may start looking at competitors’ websites and other company websites that you like. Then you’ll probably start jotting down some of the things you think your website needs, like a(n):
- Photo gallery
- Shopping cart
- List of recent news articles on homepage
- Letter from your owner/CEO
- Mobile site
While none of these features are bad, you probably haven’t done any real digging to get this list. Did you actually talk to the people who will be using your website? Did you look at the analytics of your existing website? Do you really know what people want from your website?
(This is why we talked so much about the importance of setting your website’s goals in last week’s blog.)
What happens when features come before goals
Let’s say, like many of our clients, you are a marketer for a service-based business (HVAC, home improvement, home security, etc.). One of your business objectives is to grow the number of customers you have and your website helps this goal by bringing in more leads.
As a service-based business this is your website’s primary goal - to get you more leads.
To get leads, people have to contact you. So if you want your website to help you get more leads, it needs to help people contact you, right?
Yet oh-so-many service businesses forget this. They make it nearly impossible to find contact information. There’s no clear, prominent calls-to-action, and the phone number isn’t obvious.
Instead, the website is filled with fancy things like:
- Flash animation
- Way too many scrolling banners
- Photo galleries and shameless
- Bragging copy
Basically, the website is an ego boost. Executives pat themselves on the back and say “look at our awesome website!” But the website does nothing to grow the company.
This problem is more common than you might think. Many universities also suffer from not thinking about their visitors when adding website features, as this comic by xkcd illustrates so well.
So you can see why you must think about your website features in terms of your goals. But how do you do that? Glad you asked…
How to make sure your website’s features match its goals
I’m a big fan of asking lots of questions. (Much to the annoyance of some people around me, sometimes.) Questions help you understand your own, as well as others’, thinking and reasoning. I’ve already written about my love of the question “Why?” but this time you should be using “How?”
It’s simple - just ask, “How will [insert website feature] help us achieve [insert website goal]?”
(Again, if you haven’t already, you should first set your website’s goals.)
You should do this for each website feature you are thinking about adding to your website. If the answer is “it won’t”, you know you shouldn’t waste your time and your company’s money on it - even if it’s trendy or cool, and all your competitors are doing it.
However, once you come up with a true, convincing and realistic answer, that’s not the end of the line either. Compile the features that will help you achieve your goals - now it’s time to prioritize them.
This is important because no company has a limitless budget for the website. So you must look at your list of beneficial website features and figure out which are the most important. To do this, you can ask another question:
“If we don’t have [insert feature here] how would it affect our ability to achieve our goals?”
The features that would handicap your website if left off are the most important. (These are usually contact forms and trackable phone numbersfor businesses who are looking for leads and a shopping cart for those who are looking for direct sales.)
The next step: determining your website budget
Once you’ve got your website’s goals outlined and a list of features that will help you achieve those goals, it’s time to figure out how much your new website redesign will cost so you can budget for it.
That’s the topic of our blog for next week, so check back soon and let us know on Facebook if you have any questions we can answer in the meantime.