3 Things You Should Know Before Getting a Website
It’s an easy mistake to make. After all, everyone’s doing it – right? Having a website gives you the exposure, credibility and space to make your mark. But are you ready to make it matter?
Developing a great website usually comes down to having solid answers to a few simple questions. Regardless of how good the idea or how great the leader, if you can’t answer these questions without resorting to fluff talk (or others involved have different answers) then creating a website is likely to cause more damage than good. Thus you should not get one. At least not yet.
Successful websites aren’t the result of super-human visionary leaders or game-changing ideas. A massive part of building a great website is about everyone being clear on three things.
If you already have a website – keep reading. Whether it confirms you’re on the right track or sparks the fire for you to update your current site, it’s a few minutes well spent.
1) What’s the purpose of your website?
Sounds too broad, so let’s cut to the chase. What’s your single most important outcome from your website? The thing that happens that let’s you know it was worth it. The sign you’ve achieved your initial goal.
Increasing revenue generated by a percentage or specific figure? The feeling you get from meeting kindred spirits and sharing thoughts? This may mean a certain amount of engagement or type of engagement. Saving you a certain amount of time or money? – All fair responses.
It’s difficult to pick one thing – that’s why you have to. Especially for a first time site or start-up business. The difficulty now makes all of your decisions from here on much more simple.
Wanting to achieve multiple aims with your website isn’t bad as long as you have these aims clearly prioritised. It’s also important to acknowledge and account for how they may impact your budget and timeline. The more priorities you have, the more time and expertise it takes to develop these and weave them into a site successfully.
Ultimately, the more focused your website purpose, the more chance of success. Likewise the less clear the priority, the greater the likelihood of creating a confusing and muddled website. You’ll see it all clearly, but a first time customer won’t.
2) Who is your website’s target audience?
It’s important to think practically about your target audience. Particularly for startup businesses. Who are you trying to get onto your website? What do they want to achieve?
Customers? Consumers? Investors? Like-minded people? Knowing who you want to attract defines your website. Who are they? What do they need/want/have that attracts them to your website? What are they looking for? Would they use a website to get it?
Again, prioritising is key here. Trying to be all things to all potential audiences almost always leaves your website (and users) feeling flat. You already know your own purpose for you website – targeting the right people and giving them what they want is equally (if not more) important. It may be about giving them a place to understand what you do for the first time. Perhaps it’s where they’ll be returning to regularly for updates, purchases or information.
Once you know your own purpose and those of your target audience, the vision for your website shifts into focus. It’s like wearing glasses for the first time. Making decisions about the design, text, images, video, functionality (etc.) all becomes far easier. It also saves you time and money.
Creating ‘User Personas’ is handy here – but it’s important not to get carried away. It’s easy to build a false picture of your audience based around assumptions. Not sure what a User Persona is? Here’s a handy link: https://bit.ly/2EKEUAZ
3) How will you know your website is successful?
You know your purpose for creating a website. You know your target audience’s purpose for using it. How do you know how close you are to achieving them?
The perfect scenario is that you immediately see it in your inbox, in comments or even in your bank account. Regardless, it’s important to know how it got there and the journey the user experienced. Sounds fluffy so let’s make it concrete.
How do you know they used your website? Did they find what they were looking for or get lost along the way? Is there a particular page that is stopping your visitors in their tracks or causing them to leave?
The level of detail can go deeper and deeper but you get the point.
Depending on your purpose and the complexity of making it happen, the level of detail can vary. What doesn’t change is the need to have something tracking details that are relevant to your purpose. The earlier you know the information that matters to you the earlier you can have it tracked and improve on it.
Our recommendation is to start simple and build (when necessary) from there. Remember that outcome you noted in the section about your purpose? Out of everyone that visited your website, what number achieved what you wanted them to? This is what many people call conversion analysis. Once you know that figure, you can start looking into how to improve it – and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist as there are lots of good free/affordable analytics tools out there that can help you.
It’s always great to get direct feedback from your users. That’s not always easy to do on a weekly/monthly basis, so a large part of measuring success comes from using website analytics. To find out more about this, you can check out our dedicated article called “Measuring website success“.
Your next step – should you get a website?
Answering these three questions is a massive first step to a achieving a remarkable website. If you know these, you don’t necessarily need to know much about coding, UI or UX design, copywriting, graphic design (etc.)… As long as you communicate these effectively your team and/or suppliers, they will know what they need to do. Conversely, not knowing these will lead to higher development and update costs. You’ll need to pay 3rd parties to walk you through scoping/brainstorming sessions (sometimes great, other times useless). These answers will be discovered incrementally as you proceed – stifling progress and often leading to delays as well as increased costs. Your website should always evolve but by knowing the answers to these key questions you’re making sure you build on strong foundations. Get the best value for money possible by knowing these answers first.
Of course there is more to developing a great website – much more. That being said, these three questions are continually at the heart of your decision making. Not just during development – far beyond. As your website traffic increases, offerings expand and the experience you offer evolves having answers to these questions will ensure your website always serves you well.
The aim of our blog is to share our experience and advice in the hope it saves you time, hassle and money. We’re keen to hear your ideas for future posts so if you have any questions or requests please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Thank you!
At Ngage, we’ve had the pleasure of developing websites for amazing organisations and entrepreneurs from around the world. From clean, simplistic landing pages for aspiring start-ups to a ‘first of its kind’ tourism data platform for one of the most respected tourism data research organisations in Europe. So what have we learnt so far? More importantly, how can we use it to help you?