A new website is always a big deal – it’s a representation of the company, a 24/7 sales person, a resource.
We love getting to work with our clients on their websites. Each one is unique – serving the goals of each unique organization in its own way.
I had a conversation with a client recently that sparked this blog post.
Q. Where do I start?
A. Start with what you want your new website to accomplish. Why do you want to redo the old one? Is it just because the design of the old one is outdated? I encourage you to think broader than that. Think what a compelling web presence can do for your company – how it can save staff time, how it can generate prospects, how it can answer questions and engage with your audience.
Q. How does the design process work?
A. It depends on the firm you work with. But a great place to start is to get an education – cruise the web, look at competitors sites (try those in your industry in other states), look at newly launched companies. Pay attention to sites that grab you, that represent themselves in a way that you feel is similar to how you want to be represented.
Then, the design process is different with each firm you work with. For Mainstay, we typically engage in a custom design process where we take your feedback, ideas, and sample sites and have a professional designer create a layout for you to review. We recommend getting feedback on the new design from within your company – but beware “design by committee” and make sure it’s clear who makes the decision!
Q. What’s a CMS?
A. A Content Management System. This is a pre-built framework that not only speeds up development but gives you an easy-to-use back-end to login to once the site is built. That way you and your staff can manage content directly, without having to pay or wait for someone else to update content. Except in extremely rare cases, any new website should be built on a CMS!
Q. What kind of firm is right for me?
A. It depends on your goals and your budget. There are generally 3 types of firms that work with small businesses: Individuals, small business focused firms, and mid-market firms. Individuals are the least expensive option (you can often get a whole website for $1,500!) but the quality and reliability is totally dependent on a single person. You want to ensure they won’t just be there to create the site, but around for support afterwards as well. Small business focused firms are companies like Mainstay. We have a team, longevity, consistent quality, and ongoing support to offer. This necessarily makes us more expensive, but our experience is in creating good quality, long-lasting small business sites. Finally, there are mid-market firms. These are design and development companies whose range of services and quality of work can be awesomely high. However, costs are significant, so they are typically best for companies with significant budgets, aggressive internet marketing plans, or extremely unique needs.
Q. What else is important?
A. Great quality text (less is more) and photos. We recommend hiring a professional photographer in almost all cases. It’s the vibrant, real, authentic photos that draw people in and give them a feel for who you are. Stock photos just don’t communicate in the same way!
Q. How do I measure success for my new website?
A. By how well it achieves your original goals. Looking for a new site that represents you well and is easy to update? Then success is measured subjectively in your own satisfaction with the design and with your staff’s satisfaction with the ease of use for updating. Looking to increase sales? Then success becomes very binary – has the new site increased traffic and increased the conversion of traffic to leads? And have those leads generated revenue?
Each organization is different – each website and project is different. If there are more questions we can answer, contact us.