If you’re thinking about having a new website built for your business, you’re probably thinking ‘where do I start?’
The problem is that website design and development agencies are often very tight lipped about their process. I’ve never understood why that is, I love sharing my process.
The reason I love sharing my design process is because frankly, it works.
Any websites that MeBox’s team builds, has to do 3 things.
- Generate new customers and qualified leads for the website and business.
- Deliver a measurable return on investment, for any of the goals set for the website.
- Be supported by in depth consultation so the customer knows exactly how to use the website to help their business.
These 3 points are so important, that I won’t work with anyone who doesn’t want them.
So why am I telling you how I design websites?
Frankly, because most designers are pretty amateur, and very secretive about their process, I think I need to be the opposite. I’d way rather someone tell me that they looked at my process and used it with their current website designer, and got great results, than have a bad experience.
So here’s how you can achieve the key 3 goals at the top there, with or without me.
Focus on your results, be specific and be measurable.
What do you want your site to do? Although this may seem like an obvious and perhaps simple question, it’s most often ignored by lower quality designers.
You need to get 3-5 specific and measurable goals down for your website. What is it going to do for your business? How is it going to help?
If you’re getting one for the wrong reasons, you will regret it.
So what do you want your website to do? What do you want the design of the website to achieve?
Is it acting like a sales person? Increasing your revenue and sales per month to current customers?
Maybe it’s a lead generation machine, built to find new leads and new potential customers?
Your goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.
Specific so that we know precisely what the website is doing. New leads, more email addresses, easier sales, higher SEO ranking.
Measurable is how we can tell if it’s actually working. A 20% increase in monthly revenue is a measurable and specific goal. We can take what you’re earning now and see how much that needs to increase by. Then, down the line, we can see if the website has helped you do that.
Other things you and your website team can measure
- email addresses
- faster sales
- social shares
- email opens
- targeted advertising paths
- response funnel behaviour
Achievable. Your goals have to be attainable. There’s no point asking for a £250 000 a year revenue when you only have a budget of £250 (by the way you can read about that EXACT scenario here).
Asking and driving for realistic goals for your website is 100x more productive than asking for something stupid. Having said that, I often have customers try to outsmart me.
“I want to make £1 000 000” they’ll say. In answer to ‘I need a measureable, specific goal. Go wild’.
I’ll reply with “if you want to make a million, that’s fine, I just need a £400 00 investment.”
Realistic goals are all relative. One business making their first sale through their website might seem huge. To another, driving £100 000 a month in e-commerce sales might seem totally easy.
Speaking of relativity.
Relevant goals. Your goals need to be related to both your business and the website.
Let’s say you run a hair salon. Your goals are ‘increase the average customer spend in store to £50 from £40 by offering them upsell products on the website’. Awesome. That sounds pretty good.
However, if a customer goal is “I want to set up my e-commerce store selling computer parts, but I also need to drive more likes to my friends artist Facebook page”, there is no relevancy there.
It might sound obvious, but if it’s so obvious write it down. Also, we get requests like this so often that we have to constantly remind some customers to stay focused.
Timely. Time driven and measurable. It’s all well and good saying you want your new website deign to find 5 new customers or 500 new email leads. But when do you want to achieve that?
In a day? A year? A month? You need to have a time constraint, otherwise there is no sense of scale.
If you want 5 new customers for a £300 product, all through the website, every day, expect to spend £300 – £800 a day on targeted advertising and promotion.
£1500 in a month however, and that’s a totally different website and strategy.
To sum up ‘goals’, here are a few examples.
10 new inbound qualified leads a month, to be followed up automatically by email communication
10 new paying customers in a year with an average spend of £500 per year
20% increase in companywide revenue, all through the website, by the end of the year.
Increase in average spend and up-sales/x-sales per current customer, through the website, by April 2020
Deep dive you goals and find the reason WHY you want to do something.
Often, when we look at a load of goals for building a new website, we neglect to deep dive the reasons.
This means that we don’t explore the reasons for our goals. It’s all very well saying ‘we want 20 more sales a month’, but WHY do we want 20 more sales a month?
The biggest problem that we have with this line of questioning, is that people think all the answers are obvious, even stupid.
In fact if the answers for ‘why do you want a new website’ are obvious, then we really should write them down. We’re not re-inventing the wheel, we’re trying to build a tool that will help your website.
So what’s a deep dive? We create an exhaustive list of things that you want the website to achieve. We then look at the priorities of that list. What is the most important objective?
For example, typical examples include
- More visitors to the website
- Look good on mobiles tablets and screens
- More sales through the website
- Feel that we can be proud of the website
- Clearer messaging so people understand what we do
- Get to the top of Google
- More Twitter followers and more Facebook likes
- Build an email database for marketing
- Make writing content easier and faster
- And so on…
Think of the website as a magic bullet. If it could do anything and everything, what would you want it to do?
Get down every possible goal and every possible idea. Go nuts. At least 17 different answers. What’s important to your business? Do you want more leads, or higher quality leads? Are you trying to reduce costs somewhere else?
Now you need to choose a priority. What’s the most important goal?
When designing a new website, it’s extremely important to have priorities. You need to have a very clear set of parameters for what will make your website successful.
Now ask WHY is that your most important goal? Why is more visitors important? Why is an increase in revenue important?
This question sounds like you’re asking the obvious, but the fact is if you don’t understand these answers, your website won’t generate any return for you.
You need to ask why this goal is important. Really deep dive and list as many reasons as you can. Especially the obvious ones. If it’s obvious, it needs to be written down.
Look at your customers goals and see what they want out of the website.
Who is your ideal customer? Who is the customer that will provide you with the fastest, most frictionless sale?
Where do they hang out? How old are they? What do they buy? What we’re doing is looking for someone that’ll be easier to sell to.
The more specific the better. Most customers believe that if we’re too specific about our ideal customer, then we’re excluding other people who want to buy.
This isn’t the case. What we’re doing is creating a profile for a customer that will give us the easiest sale possible. Someone who we can help easily and efficiently.
For example, if there are 3 potential customers in a room with you. Depending on what you learn about them, their habits, their preferences etc. You’re going to naturally gravitate towards someone to sell to.
Look at your ideal customer and think about how they want to use the website. Do they want to learn about you first, then buy? Do they want to contact you via phone or email?
Think about your ideal, easy sale customer and make it easier for them to use the website.
Understand that your website needs to generate a profit, and it always should.
Websites are tools that should be useful to both the business and your customers.
How are you going to get traffic to the site? It’s no good saying ‘SEO’ or ‘I’ll have a blog’. You need to be specific. Specifically, how does someone that doesn’t know that you exist, find your business or website?
If you want to appear on search engines, what keywords are you going to appear for?
If you want people to read your blog, how are you going to share it?
You need to be brutally honest and ask yourself if you are going to invest in driving traffic to the site. Are you going to post and share content yourself? Are you going to build an email list and provide a newsletter?
Driving traffic to the site should be seen like any business strategy. It should always be an investment, not a cost. If it costs you £100 to get 400 visitors to a site, but 2 of those visitors spend £100, then that was a decent investment.
You need to know exactly how your customers, will become customers, through your website.
Use a framework like WordPress to allow freedom, expansion and no commitments.
We use WordPress for a variety of reasons. I’m not going to delve into them all now, but suffice to say, if it’s good enough for CNN and eBay, it’s good enough for you.
The largest advantage WordPress has as a framework, is that if I design and build your site, but get hit by a car (I have a lot of angry ex-girlfriends), then there are THOUSANDS of WordPress specialists who can take over the work.
Also, if you want to expand your site, add your own content, edit what’s already there or add new features. I can guarantee that someone else has wanted to do that, and WordPress lets you do it.
Figure out the CONTENT of what you’re going to say.
Most importantly, above all design and development, is your content. What are you going to say? What is the purpose of your about us page? If you need one, tell me why you need it and what it’s going to do.
What are you trying to say to your ideal customer? Does it help them trust you? Find you? Buy from you?
Each sentence needs to move them to the next step.
Talk to your designer about the type of content you want now and what you’ll want in the future.
Leave the design, colours, layout and fun stuff as late as possible.
Common misconception is to talk about all the fun website design stuff as early as possible. Get an idea of what you like, colours, layouts etc.
In truth, leaving the design as late as possible, is far more efficient. We’ve listed a ton of things that you need to understand, research and decide before we build a website. The design has to come way after any of the points made above.
You might have a really clear idea of what you want your website to look like. But in truth, you can’t really know until we’ve looked at your goals and objectives.
Any decent designer will tell you that design is not about the colours and layout. It’s about how we achieve your goals, with the customer you have in mind. Then we can discover the best way to do just those things.
There’s no reason your site can’t be modern, contemporary, colourful and of course, reflect your brand. But without the right research beforehand, it’ll fall silent.
Some words to avoid when describing your ideal website
- Clean – I’ve never heard anyone say they want a messy site, so assume I’ll make it look clean
- Funky – I’m not a 70’s funk band, tell me what you think funky means
- Simple – as opposed to complicated? I’ve never done a complicated site before, so I won’t start on yours
- Well designed – if I can’t do this bit, why are we even talking?
If you need to talk about website design, the easiest thing is to research other sites. They don’t have to be related to your industry, just look at websites you like.
If you’re struggling. Check out stumbleupon.com. Get yourself a free profile and select hobbies/interests that you’re keen on. Then browse the selection and see if there are any sites, or parts of websites, that you like.
In conclusion, your website is a unique reflection of you and your business.
There’s no reason your website can’t be beautiful, engaging and something to be proud of. But you need to research your business, your customers and work out what kind of message you want to send.