Developing a website? Things to consider before you get started.

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shutterstock_310112951_medium.jpg (500x332)pxHaving a well-designed website allows you to effectively market your business, represent your brand and gain new business. But, choosing an agency to design your new site can be overwhelming.  This leaves you with the daunting task of finding the right agency to most effectively represent your brand and deliver your company’s message to best engage your audience – all within your budget. 

Whether you are creating your first website or redesigning your existing site, below are some things to consider before you get started.

What is your Objective?

It’s important to know what you want to accomplish with your site. Set goals and determine how you are going to measure the results. 

For instance, if you are a new business, your goal may be to raise brand awareness and educate your audience about your business. In this instance, your site focus would be on telling your story and on educating your audience. If your goal is e-commerce, then a site with an online store in which you can easily complete online transactions and track your return would be a better approach. 

Knowing your goals upfront helps make sure that the design and navigation of your site aligns to achieve your objectives. 

Know your Budget.

Your budget is key when designing a new website. Most websites can be tailored to fit your budget, but it is important to share your bottom line with your agency up front to make sure your estimates are inline with what you can afford.  

For instance, your website can be designed with every detail customized to deliver a one-of-a-kind site or a template can be used with custom elements to represent your brand without breaking the bank.  

Be open with your designer about your budget from the beginning to make sure your expectations are met. And remember your website is about value and ROI – not cost.    

Choose an agency.

When choosing an agency to develop your website, ask for references. Today, there are so many options when deciding to build a website. You can do it yourself through online providers, you can have a designer customize a template or you can hire an agency to design a custom site – and there is every option in between. The real difference is how your design team works with you to accomplish your goals. Does the agency have a clearly defined approach and methodology to developing your website? Ask to see other sites they have developed, ask for customer testimonials and ask about the experience their team brings.

Ultimately, you hope to enter into an ongoing working relationship with an agency where they understand your market and goals. Spend the time upfront researching the agency to make sure they are structured to deliver the best results for your organization.

Understand your investment.

Technology is constantly changing and it’s important to understand your investment. With terms like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and responsive design being key elements of website development today, make sure you ask questions and fully understand the value your site can deliver. 

Your agency wants to help educate you about the benefits they can provide so take advantage of this opportunity to learn. 

Content. Content. Content.

A beautifully designed site can still be perceived as sub-par if the content is not rich. The number one factor in achieving website success is CONTENT. If you want to improve your SEO – make your content engaging and relevant. If you want to attract more readers and raise brand awareness – develop content that identifies you as an expert in your market. The difference between a good website and a great website really all boils down to content. 

Many business owners make the mistake of getting overwhelmed with the site design and not spending the time writing content that will really appeal to their audience. Choose an agency that will help ensure you don’t make the same mistake. 

Update your site regularly.

You’ve launched a beautiful new site that is easy to navigate and you’ve spent time developing content to attract your desired audience. So, you think you’re all done, right? Wrong. A website is never really finished. If you want your audience to keep visiting your site it requires effort and time. Keeping content current, sharing on social media and making sure your company information is accurate are all important towards meeting your goals.

Measure performance.

When developing any marketing strategy (online, print or paid advertising) you should identify upfront how you plan to measure your success. There are many tools available today that allow you to track the traffic to your site. Paying attention to what pages your visitors are spending the most time on, how they are accessing your site, and what other marketing efforts (social media/advertising, etc.) are helping them find your site is all valuable information. By monitoring your sites analytics, you can tweak your site to maximize its success based on how your visitors are engaging with your site. Other measurable goals to consider are: increased traffic, increased online sales and increased brand awareness. 

At Sugar Maple Interactive, our goal is to partner with businesses and non-profits to deliver custom websites and marketing services at an affordable cost. If you are interested in learning more about our services, please contact us at sayhello@sugarmapleinteractive.com.