Do Your Homework for a Website that Rocks!
SYDCON is delighted to welcome our very first guest poster! Erica Allison of Allison Development Group, a public relations and marketing firm that specializes in promoting people, places and projects and using research and analysis to do so successfully. Erica is a great lady, she also authored our very first blog comment! Follow her on Twitter at @ericamallison and check out her blog at Spot-On .
How many times have you worked on a website, spending months or longer working with a web designer, pushing your deadlines to get that puppy up and at 'em, only to have it go "live" and wish it were, well, dead?
Hopefully, not too many times and not to that extreme! If you're like me, you've worked on a website (yours or someone else's), thought you had your "stuff" all figured out, but sadly realized over time that you really didn't. The content isn't quite what you need to reach your market. The copy is boring or not really an accurate reflection of you or your business. Or, you suffered the curse of trying to be all things to all people and put way too much information on your site.
What you have here is a failure to plan, a rush to execute, and an over-glorified business card that isn't working nearly as hard as it should.
It's ok. It happens. We've all been guilty of it. The good news is that it is completely avoidable.
Two Steps Worth Taking
1. Create a solid, integrated marketing strategy.
2. Share that strategy with your web designer.
Yep. That's it. Don't get too carried away here, there's more to those two little steps than meets the eye.
Step One: Integration
For starters, that marketing strategy isn't just for your website. It's for everything...your QR codes, your contests, your blog, your direct mail pieces, advertising, social media accounts....everything.
The website is just one piece of a bigger puzzle, perhaps a very large piece, but a piece nonetheless that works in conjunction with all the other facets of your marketing strategy. To look at your website in isolation from the other elements of your marketing strategy will only leave it out in the cold. Even worse, it won't support the rest of your marketing strategy and will become more of an odd afterthought than a key piece of the plan.
By integrating your website into your overall marketing strategy, you're also looking ahead and forcing yourself to really think about how those pages that best represent your company are going to work for you. When you frame it as a piece of a larger plan, the possibilities are limitless. The best part is that you will end up with a website that is ripe for expansion and growth and not just something for the here and now.
Step Two: Sharing is Caring
To make it all come together and make your website one that really rocks... (drum roll please), you absolutely must share your strategy with your web designer. By keeping it locked up, your web designer would be doing just what you did by creating a website strategy in isolation. They would be designing and creating a website in isolation and not understanding your big picture, your desired outcomes and your overall business marketing plan.
Make the web designer an honorary member of the marketing team, at least for the duration of the design process. You're still the leader of the team, but if you're a smart leader and have chosen well, your web designer will be able to make your grand ideas come to life.
I use my marketing strategy as a map and a guide for all members of my marketing team, regardless of if they are in house or out-sourced. Everyone gets a copy of it and everyone hears me go over it in detail, out loud. That way, there are no surprises, no "Oh, didn't I tell you about that major QR Code with a special landing page?" sort of moment.
I know it's working when my web designer sounds excited and eager to implement the ideas. I know it's really working when the web designer quotes parts of the strategy back to me.
Here's the portion of the program where you might be wondering if I'm giving away trade secrets or my intellectual property. To which I reply, maybe, but it doesn't mean that the next person who sees it or gets it will know what to do with it or how to properly execute it.
Strategies should always be unique; what works for one business or website won't work for all of them. Acting as if they are a one size fits all, especially in web design and development will only get you in trouble. Recognizing the differences, on the other hand, will get you rehired!
What's worked for you in your website design process? Do you have any tips that can enhance the process? What didn't work for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts!