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5 Questions to Ask Before Updating Your Website
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5 Questions to Ask Before Updating Your Website

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As a project manager, I’ve had an opportunity to work on several client websites. Each project is unique based on the clients’ goals and preferences, but over the years, I’ve learned quite a few …

As a project manager, I’ve had an opportunity to work on several client websites. Each project is unique based on the clients’ goals and preferences, but over the years, I’ve learned quite a few lessons about successful website development projects. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned with you here on the ClearEdge blog.

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  • 1. 5 Questions to Ask Before Updating Your Website As a project manager, I’ve had an opportunity to work on several client websites. Each project is unique based on the clients’ goals and preferences, but over the years, I’ve learned quite a few lessons about successful website development projects. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned with you here on the ClearEdge blog. Kicking off a new website project The start of a new website project is an extremely exciting time for a business. Today, websites are typically the first impression a prospect has about your company, so creating your online presence is very important. If you don’t have the resources internally to handle this project, you’ll need to find a partner who will not only do the work but provide guidance every step of the way. You will have frequent contact with whomever you hire to do your website, so I suggest making sure the company you select is a good fit. Not only should they have deep experience designing and developing websites, you should also feel comfortable working with them day-to-day. Once you’ve chosen a company to design and build your website, you may be anxious to have the new website up and running in a few short weeks. Remember that there is a lot of work that goes into the successful launch of a website – both on the client side and the agency side – so your agency can help set a realistic timeline for the new website launch. Getting your website development project off on the right foot is essential to launching on time and on budget. From the client standpoint, a little preparation upfront can really help set the tone moving forward. To help you get in the right frame of mind, here are five questions your company should ask before getting started: 1. What is the goal of our website? It might seem like the answer to this question is obvious, but you would be surprised at the variety of things companies want their website to do – help with brand awareness, generate leads (clients or candidates), educate target buyers – the list goes on and on. An experienced agency will help you understand the importance of this question and will provide any insights possible to help you fully answer it. Understanding what you want your website to do for your business – and being realistic with those expectations – sets the stage for the entire website project. The design, content and functionality can all dramatically impact the success of your website and its ability to reach its intended goals so carefully answering this question is crucial. In my years here at ClearEdge, I’ve had many conversations with clients to help them understand how their website goal ultimately serves as a catalyst for the entire project – and clients who are able to answer this question more fully often have some of the most successful launches and walk away satisfied with their website.
  • 2. 2. Who is our target audience? An answer I sometimes hear to this question is “Everyone.” While that may seem like a good idea, building a website for everyone is not likely to help you achieve the goal that you outlined in question number one. Identifying one or two primary target audiences (for example, staffing firms will likely target potential clients and candidates, perhaps in a range of industries) will help direct your design, imagery and content. And targeted design, imagery and content are more likely to generate action when people visit your site – leading to increased leads for your business. I know some clients like to have my input during this process, while others are comfortable identifying target audiences on their own. Just remember – you can’t be everything to everyone 3. What do we want people to do on our website? Some clients want their website to be an “online brochure” for their business. Others see it solely as a lead generation tool. And still others are looking for a little of both. The point here is that every website — and company — is different. Before starting your website development project, understand what it is that you want people to do when they land on your site. Do you want them to apply for a job? Download a brochure? Submit a contact form? Once again, everything from design to content will vary depending on what you want people to do, so answering this question is critical to the success of your site. 4. How will we keep the site fresh once it’s live? One common misunderstanding is that the launch of a website marks the end of the project and you can walk away and let your website go to work. Once your new website is live, the project really isn’t done. Dynamic elements like a blog, articles or trends poll help keep your website fresh, and also help drive additional traffic through SEO (search engine optimization) or through sharing across social media sites. If you’re going to add content to your site on a regular basis (via a blog, for example), who will be responsible for this maintenance? How often will you be adding new content? Who will coordinate publishing (and how will they publish it)? Who will write the content? I’ve seen many companies that intend to create their own content after their website has launched, and despite their best intentions, they simply don’t have the resources to commit to ongoing content creation. Asking this question up front allows you to create a plan for producing and managing content, whether that’s training an employee to handle these tasks or relying on an external partner to help. 5. How will we promote our new website? A new website is big news, but you’ll need to get the word out so traffic starts heading your way. Asking and answering this question before starting your website project will alleviate any last-minute scrambling to share the news of your site, or ineffective messaging that could result from a rush. Consider multiple channels for announcing your site, like email, social media, a traditional press release, or a blog post. Also, be sure to address how you’ll communicate the website launch to your internal team. They’ll be promoting your site to clients (and candidates), so it’s critical for them to understand your site and its functionality. Taking the time to ask (and answer!) these five questions will set you up for a successful website development project, and the long-term success of your website. If you need help creating a website for your company, give us a call. New trends in website design and lead generation are developing every day! It’s exciting for our
  • 3. team at ClearEdge to apply those trends with proven best practices to create a solution that helps you reach your goals.