A large part of my business throughout my career has been websites, because websites are such a powerful way to share your business with the world without taking up your time.
Several of my clients have used the space that COVID created in their business to revisit their marketing and redesign their website.
One client had their WordPress website since 2016. We explored updating the content for marketing purposes, but they are using a website template where the programming is out of date, the content was not targeted to their ideal target market and the website no longer matches their brand.
In addition, as we were exploring the idea of designing a new website, their old website stopped working due to differences in the plugins and technology; this cemented the decision to go fully into the new website rather than repair the old one.
Does this sound like your website? Here are some tips on what you should have in your website to ensure it is effective.
I’ve never really had to teach clients the value on why to have a website, but there are often a lot of questions on the what with website design.
What to Choose in Your Website Design
The four main elements that go into website development to create a powerful and effective website are:
- Graphic design (or your actual website design process)
- Search Engine Optimization
Graphic Design and Your Website
The first steps in creating a unified brand are ensuring that your brand coloring and style is brought into your website. If you are just starting out, this website design process may be part of your brand development process, whereas with existing businesses, it is more about maintaining brand consistency.
I prefer to work on completely custom website designs, so that I control this process from the very beginning, and then custom program the website to fit my designs. However, I do work with clients on their chosen template or template platform if that is their preference.
(Marketing) Content and Your Website
One of the biggest holdups with websites is the content. I share this with my clients so that they know ahead of time, if they choose to write their own content. For those who choose to hire me to write (or edit) their content, the process goes much faster!
The content on your website is important and should be written for your viewer’s benefit, not to just explain who you are and what you do. Is your website content targeted? Do you have a call to action? Do you direct your visitor to the areas of the website that would be most helpful to them? All of these are questions I ask, or items I plan for in a website development project.
Programming and Your Website
The first step to programming your website is choosing the platform you want it to be on. WordPress is one of the most commonly used platforms due to it’s flexibility and capabilities, but it has drawbacks as well. Other common platforms are Wix, Squarespace and other website builder options.
I direct each client based on their unique needs, but most commonly steer towards either a WordPress or a Wix website due to their features and benefits.
The next step to programming is developing a website that fits website compliance, ADA compliance, is streamlined for fast loading times while still implementing the elements of the design, and is optimized for search engine optimization. Programming the website is the most intricate part of a website project, and where the most common unseen problems can happen.
If a website has a poor design, or poorly written content, you can tell, whereas programming it is harder to tell unless you know what to look for.
Programming requires a lot of knowledge, and implementation for best practices to suit all other elements of the website development process.
Search Engine Optimization and Your Website
Also known as SEO, this is probably the most talked about part of website development and marketing as it is what gets your website found, and helps you attract new clients. Here is another post on the basics of SEO , or a selection of articles I’ve discussed about SEO.
Essentially, SEO is the process of streamlining your website to your keywords and content to help provide the information your potential customers need to find you. SEO should be incorporated in your content being written and in your website being programmed.
The ideal website has all of these elements correctly integrated during the development process to create an effective, attractive and user friendly website that is helping your business grow!
When to Look at a Website Update (or Redesign)
The next step in the website process is knowing when your website is outdated, and needs either an update or a complete redesign.
Considering all that is involved in building a powerful website, you can see how any of those factors can affect if your website needs to be revisited.
Reasons to look at a website update:
- Your business has shifted or pivoted, and your message and marketing no longer match what you do
- It’s been a while since you looked at your website and want to refresh the content
- You want to change images
- You want to revisit content and SEO keywords that you are targeting
- You want to add some new pages or services
Reasons to look at a website redesign
- Your website has areas that no longer work
- You want to change your website look or process
- Your website was built 3,4,5, etc years ago, and now looks outdated
- Technology has changed and a different platform better serves your purposes
- Your business has grown and you need a more powerful or customized website
- Your website is difficult to manage and you want a website you can better control
- Your programming is old and out of date
- It’s time to create a fresh look and feel, websites often go through major revamps every 2-3 years