One of our favorite clients desperately needs a new website. It’ll make a huge improvement in how well they turn visitors into sales opportunities. But, they are so anxious to get started with a web design firm that I almost have to physically restrain them. It would be a mistake to go to a web designer before they do some prep work.
A good website requires planning and as I’ve mentioned before (here) it’s the marketer’s job to do the planning – not the designer’s job.
Here are 12 questions every technology marketer should ask and answer before talking to a web designer:
1. What is the single most important purpose of the new site?
By taking the time to articulate this, you’ll be able to focus everyone’s efforts on the right target.
2. What are the secondary goals?
When companies invest money in creating a new website, there are almost always multiple stakeholders with different priorities. After all, web sites reach investors, suppliers, employees and future employees in addition to reaching customers and prospects. While these secondary goals should not be allowed to interfere with your primary purpose, it still helps to know what they are.
3. How will you measure the success of your new site?
Be as specific as possible. Ecommerce sites will obviously measure revenue & non-ecommerce sites will measure sales-ready leads, but what else?
4. What areas of your current site are successful and why?
Chances are good that your existing site is not a total failure. Take a look at what IS working. You can strive to make these areas better, but you don’t have to reinvent them.
5. What areas of your current site are not working and why?
Presumably this is the reason you’re redoing your website. It’s a good fist step to realize your site isn’t working, but that alone doesn’t provide much direction. Take the time to identify specifically what isn’t working & what it will look like when it is working.
6. Who exactly is your target audience?
What do they care about? Read “Your Website Needs a Makeover” for more information about creating detailed descriptions of your buyers.
7. What action do you want them to take?
There is a macro aspect to this question: for example, “We want them to buy our product.” And there is a micro aspect that addresses each of the individual conversion points your prospects may pass through on their way to making a purchase. These could be subscribing to a newsletter, downloading a white paper, scheduling a demo, entering a trial period, and others.
8. What does the prospect need in order to feel sufficiently motivated & confident to take those actions?
Map out each of your desired actions. Sometimes you’ll need to entice the prospect with an offer. At other times they’ll want additional information. Think in terms of both what you can provide and what obstacles you can remove.
9. What tasks will the typical user perform on your site?
For example, a visitor might register, download something, buy a product, request for information, etc.
10. What does the target audience currently think and feel about you?
If you don’t know, ask them.
11. What do you want them to think and feel?
Reflect on question 8 as you answer this question. It doesn’t matter how you’d like to be perceived. What matters is an image that will add to your prospects’ confidence in you.
12. How is your company, your product and your web presence different from your competitors?
There are a few situations in which appearing to be like your competition may be an effective strategy. But in most cases you should avoid having a me-too website. It’s already hard enough for prospects to understand and appreciate the differences among all of their options. Why make it any harder?