Hoping to boost business in the New Year with a new website? Make sure you plan ahead and provide a detailed brief for your web developer. Follow our top ten considerations below to meet your marketing needs.
Launching a new website is a daunting task, especially if you don’t feel particularly confident dealing with technical matters. However, providing your web development agency with a detailed brief can go a long way towards achieving the website you need – one that delivers on traffic, conversions, ROI and, most importantly, increased business.
By working through your brief step by step you will not only provide a clear idea to your web development agency of what you require, but will also have a better understanding of what you need your website to do to drive business. Here are our top ten considerations for briefing a web design agency:
1. Define Clear Goals
Ask yourself: ‘Why do you want this website?’ If your answer is simply because the business needs a new website, or it has been on the agenda for a while, then you are missing the point. Your website needs to be more than just an online brochure for your company.
We recommend you set clear objectives based on these four principals:
- Technical goals – platform specific, such as requiring an e-commerce solution
- User experience (UX) goals – make it simple to navigate and improve the customer journey
- Design/branding goals – stay ‘on brand’ with your company image
- Metric-led goals – your website is a valuable commercial asset – make it pay its way
2. Consider ROI
If you can demonstrate that your website-to-be will deliver a good return on investment (ROI) then your budget for its development is likely to grow. Show your chief financial officer that your new website will drive sales and increase revenue.
Forecast projected traffic increments, conversion improvements and increased sales revenues. Then share these projections with your web design agency. This will give them a clearer understanding of what you hope to achieve from your new site.
3. Planning and Research
‘Failure to prepare is to prepare to fail’ is an old adage that rings true for website design. Make sure you research who your website is aimed at, what it needs to convey and what you want customers to do on your site (purchase, download, form-fill, etc). Your research should also consider - what are your competitors doing? What are the USPs for your business?
Technical considerations should also form part of the research process, and your web design agency should be able to guide you here. You need to consider exactly what your website needs. Do you need a powerful enterprise-level e-commerce platform or an easy-to-use CMS?
Your agency should also be able to help you with persona analysis, conversion-led design, and SEO best practices, which you can factor into your brief.
4. Keyword Planning
Knowing what language will entice your audience in is central to website development. Keyword research will help you find the search terms your target audience uses. Ask your web development agency to conduct keyword research to unearth the search terms most likely to increase your site visibility.
This research can then provide valuable insights into what content your website should have – which in turn should help you map out your website’s hierarchy and URL structure.
5. Put Content First
You have your keywords - now work on your content.
All too often marketing managers put style above substance when it comes to website design. However, a beautiful website will not convert if its copy is weak.
If you are not confident crafting copy that will convert then make sure you choose a web development agency that also provides content creation and has a team of trained SEO copywriters. Strong content has become even more important for website success following recent Google algorithm updates, championing quality content.
What’s more, creating your content alongside your design will lead to a more cohesive website – delivering greater impact and driving conversions.
6. Conversion Planning
Your website should be designed to lead your customers along the conversion path, or down the marketing funnel:
Most website visitors will come to your site at the awareness stage. It is then down to your website to help as many of those visitors as possible along the journey to purchase. A conversion plan will help you ensure you have content or calls to action to meet the needs of visitors at different stages of the funnel.
Again, content creation will be key to planning here. For more on how content can lead the buyer journey read our blog on How To Use Content to Populate your Marketing Funnel.
7. Set Achievable Deadlines
And be flexible on your target live date. Be aware that delays from your end, whether its providing a brief, content or sign-off for a particular stage, can and will affect the date on which your new site will go live.
Your web build project should be a two-way conversation, so while you expect prompt delivery at each stage from your web developer you would also be prepared to provide timely feedback when requested.
8. Request a Back-Up Plan
Make sure your web design agency will implement a version control system (VCS), or a back-up plan. This protects your website from mistakes and enables your web developer to easily revert to previous versions of the site if they need to back track at any time.
A good VCS will help safeguard against file overwrites and allow multiple people to work on the same file. It will also enable you to easily navigate back – if you or senior management decide that they preferred an earlier version of the site.
9. Think Evolution, Not Revolution
Believe it or not, many marketing managers still plan their website redesigns in three-year cycles, so once the new site is built they sit back until their schedule tells them it’s time to start the process all over again.
However, consumer expectations, technology and your competition change daily. Your website needs to become a work in progress with the built in flexibility to evolve as your goals change.
Your web development brief needs to allow for continual A/B testing, conversion optimisation and other amendments. Remember, you will only discover how well your website works after it has gone live.
10. Time to Test
Make sure your web design brief factors in plenty of time for testing and bug-fixing – both pre-launch and after launch. Tempting though it may be to rush through this in order to meet a deadline, mistakes can throw up problems that could lead to your website being unsearchable by Google or even hacked.
Typical testing includes SEO checklist testing, analytics and form testing, browser and platform testing, navigation testing and security testing.
Make sure your site doesn’t fall at the final fence. We recommend you allocate at least 10% of your total web development budget to testing.
For more on how to brief a web design agency download your free eBook – How to Brief a Web Design Agency. This includes expert insight and advice to help you write the perfect brief, and get a conversion-led, SEO-friendly website that supports your marketing goals.