As a marketer, my clients rely on me to give them sound marketing advice and marketing that delivers results. I've worked with many web designers to create new websites for my clients over the last few years and seen increases in traffic, more pages viewed and better awareness and understanding of the brands. However, creating my own website, well that's a different matter....it's a bit like a handyman, who looks after all his own clients yet has a long list of jobs still to be done in his own house.
However after much deliberation I knew that I needed a new website. After all, if I can show prospective new clients what I can do with my own marketing, why would they believe I could do it for them?
Over the last 12 weeks, in between doing everyone's else's marketing, I've been working on my own site. It's an interesting experience having both a client and marketer hat on and I've learnt and observed a lot wearing my client hat too, so I thought I'd share some top tips as I reflect on this process to help you create the website you want for your business.
Your website needs to evolve with you.
Like many new businesses, I started with an off the shelf website. I then started to tinker with it to customise the branding and add new features. However, over the last year, I've started to out grow my own website - something I've come across with other clients. Your website is a reflection of who you are and where you want to be not who you were. These days websites are so accessible, that you can afford and in some cases it is better to start afresh with a new design. Think about what you want visitors would think, see and feel if they visited your site today.
Have a clear idea of the objectives.
Before you do anything, be really clear what you want from the website. This will then drive every decision you make. Do you want to generate leads, re-engage with customers. improve customer service, attract new staff? ...The list is endless. Just make sure you know what you want to get out of your website, tie it in with your overall business goals and be able to measure it!
Don't just think about what you like. What do your customers want to see?
So you're looking at different themes for your new site and you might see one that you really like, but are you're customers going to like it?. Does it fit with their persona? Does it allow you to convey the right message? You need to think about your customer the whole time you are designing the website. What's the journey they will take? What are they wanting to find on the site? What language and words will they use? If you don't have marketing resource that can help with this, use others around you to challenge your thinking, which brings me on to my next point .....
Get experts involved
I was lucky enough to work with a great copywriter, web designer and photographer for my own website. I must admit I did think about writing my own copy, I do it often enough for other people! However, writing about such a personal subject - yourself- it's harder to be objective. Plus you want to tell them all you know and everything is important to get in. A good copywriter will understand what you are trying to achieve and get the message out there succinctly, taking out the bits you'd don't really need. Of course, you don't always have the luxury of a big budget. Using experts however can actually save you time and bring you in more money in the long run, so think about this as an investment.
Press the publish button
Obviously you need to make sure the fundamentals are there - you've tested the links, you've got the right copy, the navigation works - but at some point you are going to have to go live. You need to be confident that you're ready to launch, but recognise that you can still update once published. In fact, this is where a number of companies fall down. Once they've gone live, they forget that their site needs to be updated, contain fresh content that not only helps with your SEO, but reflects who you are and what you're doing as you move forward.
Hopefully these are all tips that you can action, will help stimulate debate and will help you create an amazing website for your business. I'd love to hear your thoughts and tips too.
Claire Best, Claire Best Marketing Ltd