Tips to planning a successful website

websiteplanIn 2015, the importance of a strong website to promote your business is paramount. If your business does not have one, it is time to think about your marketing goals. Your website is your marketing hub and a tool that should be maximize to its full potential. Launching a new website is exciting, a little scary at times, and can be overwhelming to think about. As the old adage goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Building a website without a plan is like constructing a building without blueprints. Here are some key components to consider:

 

What is the goal of your website?

Think strategically on what is your website’s role, what content goes into it, so it’s crystal clear what you want the new site to do. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and design your information architecture, what should be their action points? For example; sign up for your newsletter, buy your products or rally behind a cause. Who is your target audience? Set measurable, specific goals for your website that are in line with your marketing goals. An analytics tool like Google Analytics will allow you to monitor your website’s performance over time.

 

What is lacking in your current website?

Ask your current users what they like and dislike in the current website, any common complaints from frequent visitors. A lot can be learnt from Google Analytics, where are the users spending most time, where is the exit point, where are they going from your site. Follow the facts and don’t assume here. Is it mobile-friendly? The new updates to the Google Algorithm on April 21 means that all websites need to be adaptive or responsive design for mobile devices. If they are not, they may not show up in a Google search on these devices, which can greatly hurt your business. A Content Management System (CMS) is a must today, you can add, modify, delete your photos, text, pages, sections and be in complete control of your content on the fly. The most common CMS tool is WordPress.

 

Create a content strategy. What kind of content will you be displaying on your website? Content is basically anything that gives your visitors information. It can include, but is not limited to: blog posts, documents, video, pictures, embedded social media feeds.

Your content strategy is the way that you plan to present your content over time. For instance, you may want to publish two blog posts a month, regular news posts or a regular report. Since content is such a vital aspect of a website, bring in help if you need it. Hire a writer who is experienced with writing for the web, and invest in some professional looking pictures of your business and staff.

Probably the most important aspect of website ‘structural design’ is how you breakdown the content into logical sections (Main Areas, Pages, Headers, Sub-Headers, etc). A major aspect of usability for a website is the need for people to be able to find what they want, and quickly. Logical, practical and sensible navigation is essential if your site is to succeed.

 

Maintain your site. Once your site is launched, the work isn’t over. A website is an ongoing entity that continuously represents your business, so maintenance is very important. Monitor your analytics to see how your website is performing. Keep an eye on metrics like your number of unique visitors, bounce rate, and which pages are most popular on your website. Consider also ‘future proofing’ your website. This means your site having a built-in ability to expand. You don’t want to have to rebuild the site again from the ground up, every time you have a new idea you want to add to it.

 

Launching a new website is by no means easy, but with a strong plan and a launch strategy in hand, your website launch should run smoothly.

Please share your ideas for optimizing your website and/or your biggest website challenges in the comments below…

 

As published in the Smiths Falls HomeTown News

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