Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to upgrade your web design planning process

Successful companies know that they need a website. For some, simply having a website seems good enough, but not all websites are created equal. Not all of them get results. Maybe you’re expecting your digital efforts to bring in more leads, drive more sales, or increase your donor base, but you aren’t seeing the numbers move. When you look at your website, it seems great. But was it designed and written to achieve your goals?

How can you get past “good enough” to make your website do more for your business? The problem is not looks; it’s lack of strategy. Make sure that your investment in high impact graphics, amazing code, and creative copy pays off by upgrading your web design planning process.

Every organization is different, but some core planning steps are universal.
Creative team meeting

1. Articulate the process.

You know how your business works intuitively—it’s what you do every day to build relationships, develop the right products and services, and close deals—but does your website reflect a deep understanding of your organizational culture, sales process, ideal customer base, and differentiators? If not, defining those tangible and intangible factors is the first step toward a strong design.

Begin by asking:
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What problems does your product or service solve?
  • What makes your organization different?
  • How does your sales process usually progress?
  • What are the common hurdles, gaps, and questions you overcome before closing a deal?

2. Translate business objectives into digital goals.

Your business is unique, and your website should reflect that. Once you’ve clearly defined your process, look at how your business objectives best translate into specific digital goals.

This step forms a critical part of a broader digital marketing strategy [link to website as salesperson post], but your initial goal-setting brainstorm might include questions such as:
  • How do you measure progress? Leads? Revenue? Donations? Volunteering?
  • What do potential customers need to know before they take action?
  • How do we want to capture information? Phone calls? Email forms? E-commerce?
  • Do we have multiple audience types who need to take different actions?
Setting concrete goals helps make sure that your web design and content are designed toward specific targets to yield better results.

3. Lay out a clear scope.

Before you start your web design project, make sure that everyone is on the same page. When the people handling design, content creation, and development, as well as your internal subject matter experts and stakeholders, know what your requirements and expectations are, the work is more focused, efficient, and effective. Use your team’s expertise to talk through options and decide on the best tactics to meet your unique business needs. Some components to discuss include:
  • Your digital goals.
  • Your digital marketing strategy [link to website as salesperson post].
  • Which features and functions could fill particular needs or objectives.
  • How the site navigation will flow to achieve your goals.
  • Steps in the design process.
  • Deliverables.
  • Timelines.
#ProTip: Map out the project AFTER clarifying your requirements and expectations for a more efficient workflow.Tweet this

4. Set up a schedule to communicate progress.

No matter their size and scope, projects have a tendency to get out of hand unless you keep regular tabs on progress. Your web design is no exception. To keep the project on time and on budget, decide on set times to talk over progress, obstacles, and any changes that might necessitate a change in plan or scope. Status check-ins can be quick, but should cover:
  • Progress on the milestones and deliverables listed in the project scope.
  • Any issues—foreseen or unforeseen—that have come up or may arise in the future that might require a change in plan or scope.
  • Problems encountered and solutions attempted or suggested.
  • How the project stands in the timeline, and whether any changes need to be made to projected launch dates.
How often you do a progress check is up to you, but you may want to start weekly until you know for sure that you can meet less frequently. Proactive problem-solving works better when you don’t let issues continue for too long.

5. Monitor and analyze results.

Don’t make the mistake of launching a website and then ignoring it. If you’ve planned well, your new website is a potential powerhouse. Site usage data and metrics help you keep design and content fresh, adjust and layer tactics for better results, and integrate more consistent branding into every aspect of your business.
“I engaged TBH Creative for a re-branding effort because of their knowledge and professionalism, but after the project concluded they really became a marketing partner. Tatum keeps my team on our toes and always thinking.”
-Deidra A. Colvin, Baker Hill
Ultimately, just having a website isn't enough. A complete digital marketing plan, including a strategic website, is vital to generate leads, drive more sales, and support your overall business goals. Whether you have a marketing team or are in search of a digital marketing partner, be on the look out for ways to upgrade the planning process and you'll see exponential results in the delivery.

Considering a new digital marketing partner?

If you’re ready to move your website past “good enough” and get started on a strategic planning process, TBH Creative would love to help.

Let’s set up a free consultation and start planning.
Tatum

About the author | Tatum Hindman

Tatum is the president of TBH Creative and is responsible for building long-term client relationships. She enjoys the strategy behind web design and sitting down with clients to define online marketing goals. She likes to blog about questions or topics that clients ask about as well as sharing new tricks.

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