Are you thinking about making some changes to your business website question mark or, are you interested in replacing it completely and starting from scratch with a new layout?
In either case, you’re probably balancing a pair of contrasting emotions. Experience has taught us that business owners can be excited about the prospect of getting new customers, enhancing their credibility, and reaching more people with a stronger web presence. At the same time, they tend to be incredibly nervous about the idea of losing what they have, or possibly wasting a great deal of time and money on a website that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to.
Often, their fears stem from a lack of good information. They know what they want from the new website, but aren’t necessarily sure how they can get it, or even what sorts of steps are going to be involved in the process. That makes it hard to be optimistic, or to make good decisions along the way.
What’s needed is a step-by-step primer from someone who has been through all of this many times. That’s where we come in. Today, we’re going to outline what’s needed to remodel a place of business website in a simple and straightforward guide. Even better, we’re going to share a few important tips and tricks that can not only save you time and money, but ensure you get the best possible results.
If that sounds like information you could use, let’s get started…
Audit and Evaluate Your Current Site
As strange as it might sound, the first thing you can do to build a better website is look at the one you have (assuming you already have a web presence for your company). That’s because auditing your existing site can show you what’s working and what’s broken. It can also help you in your design team to figure out what sorts of features and improvement belong on your wish list going forward.
For those who are worried that a website audit will slow down the redesign process too much, we should point out that this step can be fast and inexpensive. It simply involves looking through your existing layout, coding, and content to study what’s there on a deeper level. It’s like looking “under the hood” on your website while double checking things like search visibility and visitor statistics.
At the end of your website audit, you get a report with some great insights. It isn’t unusual for clients to discover things about their company, their market, or their website that weren’t apparent in the past. Also, it provides an opportunity to think critically about the layout and navigation structure of the site, the sorts of conversions that are or aren’t being generated, and the content that can be found on the pages.
It’s easier to get where you’re going when you know where you are, is why web presence is a good first step towards creating a newer and better one.
Focus on a Business Goal
Sometimes you can tell it’s time to remodel a business website simply by looking at it. We see tired -looking layouts every week, and those aren’t going to do much to build a company’s reputation or marketing profile. However, we advise you to go for more than a fresh look if you’re going to engage equality designed to. After all, if you’re going to spend the time and money on a website, should you be one that makes you more profitable?
Make a list of some real-world business goals you might expect to achieve with the new website. Think in terms of increasing sales, better recruiting, or busier retail stores. Consider the direction your business has been headed for the past few years, and think about how you might be able to use your website to get closer to your next major milestone or benchmark.
Easy as it is to forget, your website isn’t just a piece of art or a function of creativity. Instead, it’s something that has to be designed and laid out, but for the purpose of helping your company. Improvements can come in the form of new revenue, decreased costs, or other metrics. But, regardless of what your goal is, it should be something more measurable than simply “having a stronger online footprint.”
It’s perfectly acceptable to have several different business goals in place, so long as you can prioritize them and they don’t conflict with one another. Just remember that you’ll have an easier time getting the website you really want if you know what it’s supposed to do when you’re done.
Know What You Need
Once you have answered the question of what you want your website to do, it’s time to think about what it should be. These two issues are closely related, of course, but they aren’t quite the same thing. That’s especially true when you consider the web programming side of the equation.
For example, your real wish and launching a new website might be to set more appointments with qualified customers. At the same time, it could be that the limiting factor is that your current website isn’t compatible with mobile devices and your customers love using phones and tablets. Or, you might have apps or plug-ins on your site regularly crash.
These are just examples, but they point to the need to tie your business intent together with website functionality. Luckily, this is an area where a good web designer can help you. As part of your audit, they’ll examine your existing layout and code to look for weaknesses and opportunities. Also, they can meet with you to discuss the future of your company, including your short and long-term goals, and then make recommendations.
As long as you’re working with a good web designer (more on this and is a second), you shouldn’t have trouble with this step in the process. But, it’s still important because without it you might get focused on aspects of your website that won’t really matter to your company… or worse, pay for a renovated website that doesn’t really do what you need it to.
Choose the Right Web Design Team
Naturally, if you are going to build a new house choosing the right architect to design it would be an important step along the way. In the same way, it’s going to be easier to get a great website if you work with a creative and trustworthy web design team.
Business owners tend to select web designers based on two things: portfolio samples and quoted fees. Both of these are obviously very important, and should be weighed heavily into your decision. Don’t make the mistake of focusing solely on either one, though.
Web design portfolios can be notoriously misleading. The finished websites you see aren’t always representative of the company’s style, and in fact it’s not completely unheard of for unknown web designers to “borrow” samples from others. Besides, a good designer can work with your tastes and preferences. That’s not to say that portfolios don’t matter, just that you should think about the website you need, not the last one a creative team came up with.
Fee quotes can be even more troublesome. Not only can they be all across the board, but you have to be careful to make apples-to-apples comparisons. One firm might quote you a fee for web design, while another could include design plus hosting, website support, and subsequent online marketing campaigns.
Again, this isn’t to suggest that web design fees don’t matter. We all know they do. However, it’s a good idea to ask questions about what you’ll be paying for, look into the track record of any design team is thinking of working with, and to pay attention to your gut instincts. If some part of you feels like you aren’t getting the whole story, that’s probably the case.
Find Your New Home
Once you know what your new website needs to do, and who you should get to design it, it’s time to figure out where you can put it (virtually-speaking). That means choosing the right domain name and hosting.
Most business owners and executives reading this report will already have a domain in place. You may even have several. Now is the time to find the one that’s most relevant and memorable. There used to be some search engine optimization benefits to having multiple domains, but that’s no longer the case. Google and the other search engines prefer you have one website that is authoritative and well-maintained. If you’ve been splitting your attention among several web addresses, or need to rebrand your business with a fresh start, it’s a good idea to do it while you’re building a fresh web presence anyway.
The other detail to consider is your web hosting package. This refers to the actual server space where your site will be stored. Using good web hosting means your site will be online at all times and wake to load for visitors. Premium hosting plans also include features like secure connections, automatic backups, and protection from cyber criminals.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about domains and hosting, but it’s good to have the pieces in place as you start your website remodeling project. A little forethought in these areas can go a long way.
After you have the details squared away, your web design team is going to get busy on new site maps and layouts for you. While the creative process unfolds, there are some things you can do to make the launch of your next website a little easier.
The first is to back up your old site, or have your creative team do it for you. In an emergency, it can be put online again for a short period of time. Additionally, you might have content (like blog posts) you want to migrate to your new web presence.
Additionally, you should review your old site once more to see if there any features that simply have to be carried over. Once in a while, we hear from business owners who discover customers really like a particular app or plug-in that was set to be scrapped. The earlier you can identify any issues like these, the easier it will be to integrate your request later on.
Help With the Web Design Process
Strictly speaking, there isn’t a lot for clients to do during the web design process. After all, it’s up to your creative team to draw layouts and code pages that will impress you and your customers. Still, there are ways for you to be involved in this step that can make things easier for your web design vendor and increase the odds that you’ll get exactly what you’re looking for.
The first is to give specific feedback whenever possible. If you are web design team shows you something you really like, try to figure out what it is really appreciate about it. And of course, if you would like them to make changes, see if you can articulate what those changes will be, or at least why you are requesting. The same goes for any sample websites you might show them. Do your best to give them a sense of what you like about a competitor’s design.
Another way you can help yourself is by striving for clarity and simplicity in your web design. Business owners sometimes get excited when they see new pages, and start to think of all the different things they could add to the site to make it more interesting and useful. Eventually, though, so many things get put on a website that it becomes slow, cluttered, and difficult to navigate. Whenever possible, strive to work towards a layout that’s clean and intuitive. The less there is for a first-time visitor to get lost in, the more likely they are to stay on your site and find the information they need.
It isn’t unusual for web designers and their clients to go through a few rounds of revisions, so don’t be shy about asking for what you want. The layout you end up with is going to be the most public part of your business for years to come.
Gather Your Content
If there’s one thing that tends to slow down the web design process more than any other, it’s the need to gather or create new content. That’s probably because this is the least fun part of the process for business owners, and one that tends to be incredibly impactful.
Most of people we work with don’t enjoy writing webpages. Neither do they love being photographed, or listing out bullet points for their personal biographies. And yet, the writing on a website, the photos of you and your team members, and your professional summaries are all massively important. No matter how good your new website looks, ultimately the messaging you put in place will have to convince buyers to take the next step.
Knowing that, there are essentially two ways you can get great content for your site. The first is to make an outline of what’s needed and start early. Even people who aren’t naturally great with words can come up with strong ideas if they leave themselves some time. The other approach is to simply hire professionals. A good copywriter or photographer can be worth their weight in gold when it comes to tying the finishing touches on your new web presence together.
No matter which route you prefer, making it a priority to get the content for your website in order. Otherwise, could find yourself waiting weeks or months to launch a new web presence all because you don’t have the headline or headshot you need to move forward.
Create an Internet Marketing Plan
It’s sometimes strange to remember that we use to put websites online and think of them is finished. Now, uploading your new layout to the Internet feels like a starting point rather than a finish line. That’s probably because there’s so many websites around competing for customers’ attention. If you want to stand out and make your site profitable, you have to promote it constantly.
We could write a whole other brief guide to Internet marketing, and in fact may publish a follow-up to this report in the near future. For now, though, we just want to point out that you’re never going to get the maximum value from your website unless you pay plenty of attention to things like search engine optimization, social media marketing, and pay-pricing click advertising. Email, blogging, and even mobile apps can all come into play, too.
Each of those helps you to bring more buyers to your site, and enhances your branding on the web. So, it’s the case that the more you promote your site, the more valuable it becomes. It’s a self-feeding cycle that increases your ROI again and again. That’s why the very best start creating marketing plans for their new websites before they even launch them in the first place.
Launch and Grow Your Website
Although there aren’t dozens of big steps to remodeling a business website, they all certainly add up to lots of effort and attention to detail. It’s okay to be a little bit nervous and excited at the same time when your new site launches.
Just remember that this is the beginning of the next phase in your online marketing journey. Work the plan you created for promoting your site, and look for ways you can grow and expand. Find new products, markets, and opportunities, and then look for ways to get the word out.
Websites are better and more efficient today than they were just a few years ago. They can last a lot longer, too, but only if they are grown and maintained over time. With the help of a good creative team, you can keep adding to your content and finding new ways to reach out to customers. Stand top of current trends while monitoring your web analytics and you’ll see plenty of ways you can keep expanding into new areas and becoming more profitable.
Get the Website Your Company Needs
Follow the steps in this short guide and you’ll never feel lost when planning to remodel or redesign your website into something better. Or, you want expert help from a creative team who will drive the way to make you successful, call us now at 630-551-0334 to set up free consultation and see how easy it is to get the web presence your company needs, and the service you deserve!