We recently redeveloped our own website at www.boostyoursales.ie. We thought we would share our top tips for IT and tech business owners embarking on a new website project!
Before you do anything, think strategy! What is the purpose of the website is the first place? A common statement amongst business owners is that 'We need to update the website' and a project kicks off to make it happen. For a successful website project, it is key to step back a bit and ask yourself why are you doing it in the first place? For example is it a brochure site, are you looking to inform, get found on google, lead generate, share company news, insights and developments? Do you need functionality such as an online shop, careers portal or integration with internal business systems? Who are you looking to speak to, resonate and gain mindshare with? Drawing up a website brief that captures your intentions, your plan and your ideas is key at the start and a great opportunity to get all stakeholders involved and signed up to the direction and purpose of the website project.
You will be surprised just how much a little bit of research can help fast-track a brief, get your thoughts together and get inspired with ideas and features for a killer site that stands out from the crowd. Identifying and researching competitors, thought-leaders in your sector and the boundary-pushers in other sectors who have inspiring site layout, design, content and features and sharing those ideas with stakeholders will help you build up momentum for the project. Talk to your customers, staff and partners about what they would like to see and then prioritise the content, design and feature ideas based on who your audience is. This helps add structure, order and hierarchy to content and messaging. The digital world is changing so fast that trendy features and functionality, once reserved for those with big marketing budgets are now accessible to small-to-medium business.
3. Content Part 1
Generally the number one reason a website project gets delayed! When you engage with a web or digital partner, they will always ask upfront about content as content dictates the quality of the site and impacts on design, layout and usability. Unfortunately content takes time to develop but spending time doing good content is time well spent! Done well, content will work for 'humans and robots' (your target audience and search engines!) making your site more compelling and helping you get found online in search results. Your web partner will help you with a site map whereby you will have a view of every page on the site, how to structure your content and any gaps you have moving from the current to the new one!
Growth-focused businesses have enough on their hands without having to design, develop, content-produce, host and support their website themselves. Unless you are in that business! Key to a killer website is finding the perfect partner to advise and support the project. Choose wisely and choose carefully – there are loads of excellent ones out there but it’s a long term relationship so pick a partner that has the skills to blend with your own, can deliver the web brief and bring energy and ideas to the table. It is important to build trust with them, feel they are investing time to understand your business and your audiences and are up for bringing that fresh perspective. Good reference sites and capability across all skilled areas such as design, development, content and project management required to get the project done on time are important.
As mentioned above, writing a detailed and comprehensive brief is key to documenting for all what you are trying to achieve with the site. It will also get both internal stakeholders and your web partner on the same page. A good website brief will help you identify, shortlist and select the right web and digital partner for you given your goals and objectives. The brief should contain both functional and technical info i.e. what you want the website to do practically and technically. It also lets you cover of very important items such as hosting and post-deployment support, search strategy, browser compatibility, device-responsiveness, GDPR compliance, and all the obligatory privacy and legal requirements.
Keep it that way! Whizzes with technology, IT and tech service companies often have access to fantastic tools or integration and leverage them on the site. Nothing wrong with that persay, just don't forget about the customer being front of mind with every decision on design, layout, content and features. Keeping it simple will ensure you get a better result that gets the site working for you.
If you have trouble getting your message across you probably haven't thought enough about your audience and buyer personas. Your message needs to very succinct and relevant. If a potential customer ends up on your site - well done, you grabbed their attention. However, you probably have seconds to make them stay. How do you make them assured they have come to the right place, build instant rapport with them, convince them this is a good use of their time? Focused buyer-persona and target audience analysis will help you pick your battles, go niche and build rapport with customers that are a right-fit for you and you a right-fit for them.
Sigh of relief once its live? WRONG — that’s just the starting point. Now the fun begins and you need to continually optimise the site to be found by search engines, keep on top of compiling and releasing fresh content and have a detailed social media and content plan so you can drive traffic back to the site. You can also make some news with your new site by launching it to customers, prospects and partners and drive traffic back to the site so you can test the messaging and content, features and tools and make tweaks and improvements based on real-time feedback.
In today's digital world, there are tonnes of free and cost-effective tools to help you get the most from your site, understand how visitors interact with it, how you can improve their experience, what melts their butter and what doesn't by way of content. These tools help you measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, show the ROI on activity and build up a justification and budget for developing the site further.
10. Content Part 2
Content is king. Think of your website as the motorcar and your content as the engine! Depending on where your visitor is on their buyer journey, they may be just looking for information or they may be ready to buy now! Having different types of content that speaks to them on where they are at in the buying cycle and giving it to them at the right time is key. Content can also be useful for capturing new prospects who come to your site, getting them to opt-in for your company communications, expand your social follower network and get repeat visitors.
John Paul O'Keeffe is Marketing Director with www.boostyoursales.ie, a sales, marketing and business mentoring services company for growth-focused IT and tech services companies in Dublin, Leinster and beyond! Find out more at www.boostyoursales.ie.