Building an effective website strategy is a critical step to redesigning or building a business website and must precede all else. Too much focus on the aesthetics of your website can make it easy to overlook the functionality. Before you start building a strategy for your website, understand it is an ongoing process. Content needs to be updated periodically so that it stays fresh and remains relevant. These constantly moving parts might be overwhelming but keep in mind your web development shop is there for support.
A website strategy is a long-term strategic plan that details a company’s online presence with reference to business goals. Because your website is your best marketing tool, a well-thought out marketing strategy serves as a great basis. Understanding your marketing goals will help you identify steps that need to be taken in the web development process. Planning an effective strategy will answer a variety of questions. Below are seven ideas you should include in your website strategy:
1. Understand the categories of customers who will be utilizing your website. Every customer is different; to categorize them in one pool would be ineffective. Different customers are looking for different information, which leads us to our second idea:
2. Identify your customers’ needs and create content that provides answers. What kinds of questions are customers asking when they reach your website? Does the content and information available on your site provide them with answers?
3. Define the goal of each page on your website. When a visitor is reading your webpage, they should, ultimately, be persuaded to take action. Identify the action you want them to take and instruct them what to do next.
4. Make sure your conversion rates stack up to industry rates. In order to set a target rate for your website, draw your numbers from industry rates to see how they compare. This way, you will know how your company measures up to the competition.
5. Know your short-term plan. We’re talking one to three months from now. How are you going to get more traffic on your website?
6. Know your long-term plan. Don’t wait until after the first few months have passed to think about the bigger picture. What do you want your website to accomplish in six months, a year, two years? Your website strategy will define these goals so that you can measure performance periodically.
7. Optimize your website. When customers are looking for answers to a question, they are likely to type it into a search engine. Search engine algorithms rank pages based on a variety of factors, including keywords, backlinks, and social recommendations. You want your website to rank as high as possible, meaning it will appear on the first page of the search engine. If your website pages are relevant and recent, they are more likely to rank higher.
Planning your website strategy involves many different skills, including design, content, layout, and development. Every part of the process should be thought about strategically, with a basis in smart goals. Multiple phases are involved in the web development process. Each phase is implemented and navigated based on the website strategy.
Building a website without a strategy can be compared to driving a car without a steering wheel; your website strategy should steer you in the right direction, and that direction is toward your business and marketing goals. Your website should attract visitors and engage them so that they remain present on your site. Finally, it should convert them from visitors into customers.