Every new year brings with it new goals, and when it comes to your business, it can be easy to lose track of those goals after February ends and you’re back into the daily grind of your business.
But we are halfway through the year. Which means it’s time to reassess those goals and make sure you’re on track to actually complete them this year—especially if one of those goals was to get a new website.
We often hear business owners make the same claim, “I’ll start looking into it in the fall.” And while your intentions might be good, your timeline is anything but.
Understanding The Timeline
Understanding how long it takes to complete a project is vital to setting deadlines for your goals. We often have conversations with executives who believe a professional, high-quality new website can be created in three or four weeks.
This, however, is a misguided assumption. There are several key things to consider when sketching out your new website timeline:
What Caliber of Website Are You Expecting?
Do you want your website to be a strategic marketing vehicle that generates new business leads and reassures prospective customers? That sort of strategy takes time to develop, especially if it is based on data.
When spending a good chunk of your marketing budget on a new website, you are expecting good results. But these results can only happen after your web design company has all the information required.
In order to properly motivate and sell your potential customers on your products and services, you need a strategy, compelling copy, and good design. Your web company should be asking you about your target audience, what sets you apart from your competition, details about your sales process, and about your culture and team.
Skipping these questions and other critical research will be a great detriment to the success of your website.
Copywriters can work quickly – but if they don’t have time to properly research your brand and your industry, the words on the page may not motivate customers to buy from you.
High-quality websites with revenue-based results are built using a proven process (like the 150 step process we developed after a decade of building websites) and are not built in a day.
How Much Preparation Have You Given to the Website Process?
Getting a new website is more than simply saying “I want a new website.” You will have homework to do, and the more you do upfront, the faster your build will go.
Are all your departments on the same page with your mission, vision and marketing goals? This question is one many business owners assume all their employees know the answer to. But this is one main point of contention when designing a new website.
Often, business owners delegate the website project to others on their team. These team members might see the goals of your marketing strategy a little differently than you. They might also prioritize different parts of your mission and vision.
Be upfront and have these talks with all involved on not just the website planning team, but your entire team to make sure everyone is in line with the same business goals.
What main call to action do you want users on your website to take? A call to action is the main thing you want your users to do after visiting your website. This is often filling out a contact form, calling, sending an email, or visiting your store. Depending on your products/services and marketing goals, this action will differ.
You want to make this call to action the easiest step for customers to learn more/buy/donate or whatever your desired action is. The fewer steps the customer has to go through the higher the likelihood of them completing the action and opening their wallets.
What information on your website is current and what is out of date? Your web design agency will use the content on your website as a starting point. Using it for research, to better understand what you do, and to help jumpstart their writing.
When was the last time you looked at your current website? Before your web agency meets with you, they will comb through your site, and you should do the same. You need to be able to speak to what you like and don’t like and what needs to be added, deleted and expanded upon.
What photography or videos do you have? What sets a website apart from another? Photos and videos. Have you given any thought to your photo library?
A comprehensive website needs photos of your products, services, team members, culture shots and more. But photos taken with your cell phone won’t quite cut it. You will need high-quality images that can be blown up without distorting.
When considering your budget for your new website, consider adding in enough for a professional photo shoot. If that is out of the question for you, stock photos are an option, but they still need to be budgeted for, and you should still spend a little time looking for a handful of stock photos you like to help point your web designer in the right direction.
Do you have any brand fonts, colors or design elements? Consistency is key for your branding and for your customers. Whether they are looking at your website, mailer, or Facebook page, they all should look, feel and sound the same.
So compile a list of fonts, logos, slogans, and colors you use frequently in your other marketing materials. Not only will your web design team utilize these in your new website, but it will give your designer a starting point that you already approve of.
Answering these questions isn’t a prerequisite to talking with a web design firm. It is, however, important to realize that answering these questions takes time, and at least thinking about these answers before starting a project will save you time and headaches in the long run.
How Much Time and What Level of Priority Can You Devote to Your New Website?
If you are thinking you can hand a pile of paper to your website company and walk away, you are mistaken. In our modern world, your website is the hub of your entire marketing strategy. Devoting time to scheduled checkpoints with your website team will contribute to the success of the project.
Only you work in your business day-in and day-out, meeting with customers, understanding the needs of those you work with. Your website team should be experts in developing great websites – but you cannot expect them to know every nuance of your company, your brand, and your approach to sales and marketing.
Put succinctly: you must make time to be available to your website team throughout the process.
Determining how much time you have to devote to the website build process is vital for setting your own expectations. If you are going to let weeks elapse between giving content, reviewing, giving feedback and approval to your website team, then expect the project to last a while. If you have the flexibility to review and give approval within two days, expect the project to move along at a more normal pace.
A great modern website takes about three months to build, from the day the contract is signed to the day it launches—assuming everything is optimal. Assuming you don’t take a vacation in the middle of the project, and you respond within two business days to all requests.
But this isn’t realistic. As a business owner, you’re often juggling multiple priorities and the new website is merely one of them. Which makes the new website process about four to five months to get from contract to launch.
Is a new website a goal you set for 2018? If launching before the ball drops on New Year’s is a priority, now is the time to get your ducks in a row and begin the process. Waiting until fall will only lead to one of two things: sacrificing quality or missing your deadline.