“Our website is terrible” is one of the most common complaints we hear from manufacturing, it’s not uncommon to have a website that is two, five, or even ten years old. I’ve had a client tell me they’d burn down their site if they could.
Yet, a website redesign keeps getting pushed to the backburner (which by the way, is how you end up with a ten year old website). For one, it’s daunting. As tempting as it is to theoretically burn it all down and believe that your brand new site is going to rise from the ashes like a phoenix, it’s a lot of work to start from scratch. Also, it’s expensive.
At least, those are the myths that persisted in the industry. Those are the excuses that stop us from moving forward. The good news is: there is a better way to approach a website redesign.
Growth Driven Design (GDD) is the methodology of continuous improvement. It involves constantly improving, testing, optimizing. GDD allows companies to narrow in on their long-term business goals and not just use a new website as another marketing tactic. It means that your website is never really done just as your company and customer base is never done evolving.
Each of the tips below will shift the way you approach a website redesign, and help keep you sane throughout the process. Keeping these in mind ensures a clear understanding of why someone is coming to your website, what they’ll get out of it and how you can provide what they need.
A beautifully designed website won’t bring much ROI without a strategy behind it. Before you do anything with your website it’s necessary to start with a buyer-driven strategy.
A buyer-driven strategy is simply a strategy that focuses on the end user. Knowing your audience is key and it will require you to ask questions like:
What information are my customers looking for?
What problem does our company solve for them?
What keeps them up at night trying to figure out a solution?
The answers to these questions are what you’ll build the site architecture around to create a user-friendly and high converting website.
Shift your mindset about the website project. Stop treating your website as a one and done project. It should grow and evolve with your business. Instead, test results quarterly and optimize as things change.
There are two ways to think about website, and both depend on your goals. Websites used to be a digital brochure, an online platform to showcase your brand. If your goal is brand awareness, you can still take this approach.
However, if you are expected to generate leads using your website, you need to build a site designed for conversion. To effectively do that, you need to be as nimble as your customer base and be able to evolve with them.
GDD is a great framework for websites designed to convert visitors to leads.
In the initial phase once the strategy is set you’ll implement the first published version of your new website. The goal beyond that is to always be improving as you learn about your customers and the path they’re taking through your website.
Quick pro tip: If you need to convince the C-Suite of this in manufacturing, use the language "continuous improvement." It's a principle often used on the operations/manufacturing side— and why wouldn’t you apply it to marketing as well?
Content is where scope change blows your budget.
It's not uncommon for a company to hire a design or development company who builds a beautiful wireframe and sandbox for your company to plug content into. The problem is that once your content is in there, it looks nothing like the wireframe. Instead, work with the designer to populate real content into the wireframes BEFORE you start development.
While it may seem like a lot of up-front work, it will save your team from problems down the line. Creating the content ahead of time will help the web designers better understand space constraints and overall flow of the website, speed up the development process, clarify content requirements, and provide a more realistic end product to review before launching.
As a writer, this pains me to say, but content does not rule all. Attention spans are shorter than ever; if you lose someone because your user experience is bad, they’ll never read the incredible content you spent hours slaving over.
Ease of use and clarity are vital for creating a pleasant user experience that makes customers want to stick around your website. Meaning the user should have to go through as few ‘steps’ as possible to reach their goal while on your website. Whether that is contacting a rep or registering company information, it should be quick and simple for the user.
People also need to know exactly what you do within the first 5 seconds of landing on your website. So, be conscious that the content above the fold is short, compelling, and provides direction.
Think of it this way: The easier it is for someone to find and use your website the more likely they are to perform the desired action that brings them one step closer to the sale.
Overall, the biggest source of frustration during a website projects stems from a lack of communication between key partners. As long as your process is collaborative, and you're engaging the designer, content creator, and developer all together throughout the process, you'll end up with a website that resonates with your target customers.
If your web strategy is lacking and your website could use some help, contact Katie at K@strategyhouse.com