When it comes to designing websites, one of the BIGGEST mistakes that I often see new business owners make is to skip developing a solid website strategy. You might be thinking, “YIKES,” but it happens more often than you would think!
If you are too focused on how your website looks and only focus on the design, you might forget about making sure it actually works. Or you might be in such a hurry to get your website live that you neglect the design and strategy altogether and just throw up a page that doesn’t reflect well on you or your business from any angle.
In a perfect world, customers would come running to your website, cash in hand, and each of them would fill out your contact form or purchase from you without hesitation, but in reality, there’s a lot more to it than that. When creating your website, you have to be intentional about each and every one of the elements on your website, ensuring that they are there to navigate your visitors through your services, products and information in a logical and user-friendly way.
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If you’re a business owner, what good is your website if it’s pretty, but doesn’t actually play a part in transforming your visitors into clients or paying customers? That’s where a solid website strategy comes into play.
Though each website is different, they should all start the same way – with a strategy. People like to toss that word around a lot so it might sound pretty ambiguous, but all we are really talking about is what your overarching goals are for your website. What do you want your visitors to do and take away? Here are just a few examples of what you might want to include in your own website strategy:
- Educate potential customers before they make a purchase
- Capture visitor email addresses to follow-up with them later
- Act as a portfolio of your work to gain visibility and credibility
- Screen potential customers for goodness of fit for your services
- Sell products directly to customers
- Create a library of resources and establish your expertise in your industry
High-Converting Website = Strategy (Design + Content + Development + Optimization)
Your strategy might include one or more of these things – however the key is that they all work together and are planned out from the beginning. Strategy should be present at every stage of creating your website. Only once you have identified the key parts of your website strategy, then should you move forward with actually creating your site. These are the areas you’ll need to address and weave in your strategy along the way: 1) design, 2) content and 3) development 4) optimization.
For me, Design is hands-down the most fun part of creating a website. You get to see your business finally come to life virtually! It’s easy to get caught up in selecting the right fonts, images and colors, but don’t forget to make sure your design choices reflect your audience’s preferences first and foremost. A web designer will be your best bet in helping you make these kinds of choices and ensure that your website follows best design practices.
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Content creation is a MAJORLY overlooked area of website strategy that is another art in itself. Gone are the days where you could just whip together a few paragraphs about your products/services yourself and hope for the best. Website users are getting smarter and are expecting a more personalized sophisticated experience. Users want to know what’s in it for them and how you can address their specific needs. An experienced copywriter is usually best equipped to help you create website content that is both engaging and optimized for your visitors.
The third stage of creating your website is usually development. Development is where the design and content come together and your website actually becomes an experience that the world can interact with. Depending on whether you’ve decided to outsource the development of your site to a web developer, this can also be one of the most complex parts of creating your website. It includes things like, functionality, setting up hosting, SSL, domain access and other technical details that can seem overwhelming to deal with.
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Once you’ve worked through each of the prior stages of creating your website being mindful of your strategy, you’ll be ready to launch your website, but that doesn’t mean your website is complete!
The final stage of creating a website is optimization. This brings your website strategy full-circle and ensures that the decisions you made in the other stages of creating your website are actually working towards your goals. At this stage you may want to test and monitor certain aspects of your website design, copy or experience. Using website analytics or hiring a marketing professional can help guide you to make good decisions about ways to improve your website as your business grows and you learn more information about your website visitors.
What do you think – Do you have a solid website strategy in place or is your website just a pretty placeholder? Maybe it’s time to rethink your website as a sales tool and put it to work for your business. I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
I help female entrepreneurs and business owners create brands that command the spotlight. I love working with women to help them create beautiful, one-of-a-kind brands that give them the confidence to take their business to the next level and get them seriously noticed. I’ve worked with coaches, authors, influencers… you name it, and I bet I can help you too.