I have celebrated quite a few website launches in my career. This is what I learned when I stopped building someone else’s website and built my own.
Working for a small consulting firm, with the launch of our company’s new website on the horizon, it dawned on me how difficult and different things are when it’s “your” product to be unveiled. And so it feels right to take what I’ve learned and share it with you. Consider this your best practices to building a website.
This is what I learned when I stopped building someone else’s website and built my own.
Consider your objectives
First off, I’m not going to discuss the technical elements like responsive CSS, load times, design, or Google verifications. These are all things an effective website development company can do for you, and should not be your focus.
It’s not What your website will do; but, How it will do it.
Consider the business objectives of the website, the actual value that the website brings to your organization.
At my company we focus on Project Portfolio Management (PPM) implementations. Even if your company doesn’t do the same thing the core concepts remain the same: Focus on the business outcomes you want to achieve.
In our consulting engagements we start by asking you ‘why do you want the solution?’ – this is the same question we ask ourselves whenever we take on an internal project.
Which brings us to the first question.
What is the purpose of your website?
Is it to generate leads? Is it meant to sell a product?
Understanding the specifics of what your website is to achieve will drive the design. That said, there is nothing wrong with a simple website. More often than not, people view your website as a portal for simple information (address, hours of operation, contact information).
But consider what a restaurant’s website needs to convey. A simple way to peruse the menu, images that portray the warm inviting atmosphere customers can expect when they walk through the doors. A mechanic’s site needs to express competency and trust, so surely they will have testimonials and perhaps a background of the crew.
To really understand this purpose, we started by framing the website, this wireframe is not meant to be the final design picture but a way to , purely focus on the elements that needed to be in each page – a means to define why each element was there and what purpose it served.
Once we understood what we wanted the website to achieve, we went into the design.
Which, in a way, brings us back to initial question. Why did we want it to look this way, what is the purpose behind the design?
Our previous website outlined our methods, the how we work not why you should pick us to work.
The how is a given. The moment you’ve contacted us we will gladly explain our processes – our A to B. But it’s never the manual that sells the car.
So, for the new site, we made content short, visual. Our goal was to be seen as thought leaders, so we verified the design and content of each page provided insight into our expertise.
As a consulting firm, our key competitive advantage was our people. We know that when customers sit down and talk to our team they realize how capable we are. So it was important to provide customers with a glimpse of that experience. There is a place to request a trial, to sign up for a demo, to look up resources about Project Portfolio Management (PPM). We wanted our new website to be a place you go to learn, as much as, a place to find answers.
Once we had our design well aligned to our purpose, it was time to develop.
If you don’t have the means to do this in-house, look outside. We didn’t have the resources to develop so we worked with the brilliant team at North Studio.
Why do people visit your website?
If we were e-commerce business, customers would be coming to our website to gather information before a purchase. Think of Amazon or Futureshop. You don’t just purchase an item before looking at the photos, reading its specs, taking a gander at the reviews.
So they tailor their pages to provide all that information right next to ‘Add to Cart’.
As a consulting company, customers come to us to decide which Microsoft Partner they should work with. So our new website had to build customer confidence, showcase our expertise and express our talent (Check out our team video!).
Our website focuses on highlighting testimonials from clients and videos about our company’s personality.
We spent a long time thinking about our customer’s and what they value. There’s lots of PPM partners in the sea but none of them work like we do, with technical precision and a commitment to building a long-term relationships.
That’s why our website’s first video talks about what Arbutus Solutions values. And why we started making client-oriented content.
The goals of your website and how will they be measured.
To be blunt, we had 3 goals: lead generation, customer confidence, and support for current customers.
We needed to think of how to make a website that where it was easy for customers to navigate to those areas.
For new potential customers, we wanted them to choose us for: our experiences, our values, and most importantly, to connect with us, whether that was by signing up for a webinar, watching a demonstration, or requesting a trial.
For current customers, we wanted the website to provide a place to continue the conversations as they evolved in their organizational maturity. The website needed to provide a space to find resources about PPM best practices, and sign up for training sessions to support in their growth. We needed to make sure this navigation was intuitive and organized as well.
Based on the individual coming to the website, they would navigate and take the path they needed to.
By understanding these points, our measurable metrics became simple, number of new leads, number of resource downloads, number of signups for webinars and training sessions.
And so, a big thank you to my wonderful marketing team at Arbutus Solutions and developers at North Studios.
And good luck to anyone building their own website.
Oh, just in case you’re curious, check us out at www.arbutussolutions.com