In a recent blog we described the website process that we’ve refined and perfected over the years. People often talk about website ‘projects’ – like it’s a stand-alone piece of work. Website built. The End.
However, as this blog describes, a website isn’t a piece of printed collateral; it should be viewed as more of a continual process and integral to the business. This isn’t to say your website budget needs to be a black hole: every website requires a well-defined purpose, scope and budget. It’s more that it’s essential to keep revisiting performance, function, content and security to ensure your website is meeting business objectives and addressing changes in audiences’ needs.
It’s important to look at how some well-known websites have evolved over the years. Here’s a screen shot from Apple’s first website:
OK, so they have an impressive web development budget – but this is a million miles away from today’s beautiful, slick online presence. Similarly, if you look at a newer well-known brand, like Airbnb, back in 2007, the company was known as AirBed and breakfast. The offering and website is pretty different to the version many of us use now.
Business objectives at the core of your website
In the first phase of any project, we take a strategic approach to assess business needs and this includes looking at long-term objectives and internal and external influences. Your website has to keep working hard to help you achieve business goals.
We build website prototypes and test during the build, but nothing is as valuable as real-life stats to discover what’s working and what’s not. An important part of our work is looking at website data and how the site is performing. To do this, we keep working with senior teams or marketing and sales teams to make sure the website remains focused on achieving business goals.
Even if your objectives stay the same, the features and functions needed to achieve those objectives will change over time, so it’s key this is an ongoing collaboration where both parties periodically asses site performance and functionality. Your website should pay for itself, so it needs to keep evolving.
Time, dedication and content
It’s also essential to keep developing fresh content. Clients often underestimate the time and amount of content they need – both at the start and as a continual process of creating fresh content that brings SEO benefits. There’s lots of work involved in this. You might want to periodically refresh your homepage to focus on a growing market or area of your business, update your photo gallery, add data capture forms, incorporate downloads, update news pages or your blog, create landing pages for specific promotional campaigns or keep your team page up-to-date. This process should never end.
Keep it secure
To make sure you keep your website in tip-top shape, we recommend that anyone with a CMS website invests in a support and maintenance plan. This helps maintain the security of your site and data and normally involves: CMS and plugin updates, security checks and back-ups.
We meet with clients to review these three and six months after launch. This involves analysing site performance, reviewing conversions and beginning to develop an improvement plan from six-months onwards.
Run with it
Part of our service is client education to enable them to run and manage their website. But there’s normally a point where technical, best practice advice is needed or when it’s time to extend the website. A small website for a partnership start-up will need to be very different two years down the line, when the business has built momentum, has a solid client base, and is running at a healthy profit.
The starting point for any website should be business objectives, so you’ll always need to measure how effectively you’re meeting those objectives and adapt along the way. If you are a local business in Farnham, Guildford or Surrey and require web design or development, please get in touch with Arps