Upgrading Your Website Part I: Good Design Makes Great Content Stand Out
Do you remember that last time you heard someone talking about the importance of a well-designed website? These days, people spend more time talking about content creation and consistency than design and functionality. The truth is that without good design – and functionality – even the best content is lost on a visitor to your website. Here’s how to go about updating or upgrading your website’s design and functionality so you can make your content stand out.
Get a Plan Together
Your company should strive to get a plan together to upgrade or update your website. This should include a timeline that you can realistically follow based on your existing project load. You might draft a plan that reads something like this:
“Our company understands the importance of upgrading our website so that visitors to our website have a memorable experience and come to know our products and services better. We’ll work with a qualified developer and designer to create a new look and improve functionality for our website so that we have a better representation of our brand and product offerings in the world. Consulting with such professionals will provide us with a realistic approach to the project. We’ll work with a consultant to identify gaps in our existing website infrastructure, design and functionality, and develop a checklist of attention items that need to be addressed according to priority. The website upgrades will allow the company to reach our target market in a robust and meaningful way and provide our products with the right exposure and positioning. A well-designed and functional website will ensure our content is found by search engines and will help our business grow over time. Our timeline for this project is six months in order to be ready to launch the Summer 2019 collection on time.”
Understand Your Capacity to Take on Such a Project
One of the most important parts of taking on a project related to updating or upgrading your website is understanding your capacity to take on this project. If you are not personally able to update or upgrade yourself, or you don’t have someone on your staff that is capable of such tasks, it will be important to reach out to the right stakeholders to ensure a properly executed project plan. As part of your planning process, you’ll want to take stock of your capabilities in the areas of web development, design, and functionality. This part of your plan might read:
“As a small business owner, I do not have the knowledge or skills to perform upgrading or updating to my existing website. I do have a small staff that is capable of creating new content for the newly designed and developed website, but the initial development and publication of a new website is beyond our scope of knowledge. Our plan is to work with professional web developers to ensure a smooth transition between assessing gaps in the existing website and pushing changes to the newly created website. Our timeline of six months allows our team to dedicate time to oversee the project and ensure that it stays on schedule and budget. We have been able to identify several web development companies that would be a good fit for our website updating and upgrading needs. Our existing staff is available for consulting meetings and to provide input on how customers perform tasks on the website and interact with the products we sell. Working with a consulting web development company provides us with the skills, knowledge and capacity to execute this project on time and in a way that provides meaningful results for our organization’s plan for the future.”
Understand Your Audience and Reach
When planning to update or upgrade your existing website, it’s important that you take time to understand who is going to see and interact with the website. A lot of small business owners get this piece wrong: they assume they know who their customer or audience is and then come to find out that they are missing the mark, either through design flaws or a lack of content creation efforts. Again, the best results come when you have a winning combination of web design and functionality coupled with useful and engaging content. Here’s an example of how you might plan this piece of your project:
“Our company services the greater Toronto area, but we have the capacity to reach women in a number of major metropolitan areas through targeted marketing efforts. However, until our website is more robust and functional, it doesn’t make sense for us to push audiences toward it with paid marketing efforts. While many of our sales happen at the local level through our retail store, our online sales and engagement have room for growth. Currently, we focus on selling products to women in urban areas, but the opportunity to promote our products to rural areas throughout Canada and even the United States is vast. There is an opportunity to move our operation fully online through the upgrading and updating of our website. If it were more robust, we would have the capacity to serve more women in more areas. Online sales also allows us to cut down on our inventory storage and provides opportunities for our company to drop-ship directly from our suppliers, cutting down on costs and expenses. A website upgrade provides our company with the opportunity to save money and make money, providing more opportunity to grow a profitable business in our area.”
There is a lot to consider when you decide to take on a website upgrade. If your business does not currently have a website, these steps will also help you to uncover the potential in a website creation and design project for your business. Whether you are just starting out or have been through hundreds of website redesigns in the past, having a plan and understanding the impact and reach of your web redesign will help guide your decisions. In part two of this blog series, we’ll cover how to plan for your new website by considering the gaps it will fill in your business, what the objectives of your website are, and what the key activities are related to upgrading a website and creating more functionality to help you succeed in business.