With the momentum that is starting to build in the marketplace, a number of my clients are putting “upgrade the website” on their 2011 to-do list. It’s understandable; they want to invest in marketing and building their business, and their website is an ideal place to start.
But creating a website in 2011 is a little more complicated than it was in 2005. There are some great websites out there that are doing innovative and exciting things. It’s a lot tougher to attract traffic and be found than it used to be. Even if you are found, how do you stand out? Why do you look different or better than the thousands of other professionals that pop up in Google? And most important, how do you get people to engage with your website in a way that builds trust and authority?
For all these reasons redesigning your web presence in 2011 requires focus, strategy and execution. Are you up to the challenge? Then, let’s get to work.
In order to stand out in an increasingly crowded webosphere, you must be able to answer these questions very clearly:
- What does your business do?
- What do your clients need and how you can fulfill that need?
- Why are you different from your competitors?
Simple enough, right? Well, if it were that easy, there wouldn’t be the abundance of poor and very unclear websites out there. The problem is that many businesses don’t know the answers to these questions, or at least they can’t write them down in a way that makes sense to prospects. When you sit down to work on your website, you need to read it from your prospect’s eyes, so focus on what your prospects would want to read.
Don’t forget to focus too on what you need and want. What type of business do you want more of? What do you want less of, or should you eliminate? Once you answer those questions make sure your website copy SCREAMS out that focus. The more narrowly you focus, the more attractive you will be to your target customer.
One of my favorite business articles is entitled Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia (or Build a Website for No Reason). The author, Internet guru Greg Storey, has a very simple process for creating an Objective for your site and a brief strategy for what you want to accomplish with readers once they arrive at the site. It’s essential that you answer those questions before you even begin the process of designing a website.
While that article is one of my favorites, it was written in 2005, and in 2011 we need to go further. Once you know why you are creating a website, and what you want people to do once they get there, you must decide HOW people are going to get to the site. Terrific content is a must, but there is tons of great content on the web. Think about going beyond our own sites, to where the readers already are and then to attract those ideal clients to you. This may mean working with a skilled Search Engine Optimization firm or developing a LinkedIn or other Social Media strategy. Whatever venue you choose, you must engage your audience and demonstrate your expertise.
Once you have a strategy, follow through on it. The web is not a world where perfection rules; it’s more of a get-it-started-and-then-refine-it kind of process than a wait-and-try-to-get-it-perfect. So, get started on something and commit yourself to continuing to refine it. Web designers certainly need time to create the site, and the timetable varies depending on the complexity of the site. But, as most web designers will tell you, the majority of the hold-ups are caused by the client either not providing the information they need to, or not signing off on the copy. Set a goal of having your new site done in 3 months, or better yet in 6 weeks. A short, focused effort, followed by a period of tweaking and refining (after you see what the readers like and do) is more likely to bring home the bacon.
Years ago, websites were considered a “fire and forget it.” These days, your web presence should be interacting and constantly evolving. How does your website fare?
Photo credit: greg westfall.