Strategy Development That
Will Drive Clients & Conversions.
Take this quiz:What should be the first step in developing a website?
1. Creating a design to use as a basis,
2. Deciding how the content needs to be integrated and managed,
3. Gathering content from corporate collateral,
4. Developing a strategic plan for your specific needs, or
5. Choose the most cost-effective hosting plan.
In just about any profession other than website development, your answer would be choice 4. After all, you couldn't build a house without considering the layout, number of bathrooms, and features of the home. You wouldn't create a design for a major advertisement and then plan the content and message of the ad. Yet, when it comes to website design, often the design comes first and the strategic plan for the site comes last.
This issue has been perplexing for years.
It seems that the development process should be:
1. Discover why a business needs a website & the goals to be persued.
2. Understand your typical demographic and what influences their purchasing decision.
3. Obtain a clear understanding of how the website fits into the marketing plan.
4. Research your target demographic & the search terms they likely use (keywords).
5. Plan a site architecture which is best for the desired demographic using online search trends.
6 Have a site that's easy for search engines to follow, & is designed with the target market in mind.
7 Have a clear definitions of conversion goals.
8. Create a design which speaks to the target demographic.
9. Launch the site and begin an internet marketing plan to fulfill realistic expectations.
10. Modify strategic marketing plan as needed in response to real-time data.
Then issues such as server configuration, hosting service, domain registration variables, proper site construction, PPC, & many other features need to be researched and fine-tuned. For example, choosing a hosting package with an IP that has been associated with a "bad neighborhood" in the past (bad neighborhoods are offensive sites, etc.) can cripple your website marketing plan before it begins.
Instead the plan is usually:
1. Create a design.
2. Add content. (most plans end at this point because there usually are no marketing goals for a site.)
3. Contact SEO firm who performs keyword research based on content of site.
4. SEO firm proposes keywords.
5. Site is optimized by SEO firm by editing original site to make it more SEO friendly.
6. Results vary.
7. Usually followed by redevelopment IF business doesn't lose faith in the internet.
All the details should be dealt with as long as the designer knows they exist.
Mostly, the reason the internet world can get away with a backwards strategy is because the design portion is fun, is more tangible, and looks impressive. It gives a client the ability to suggest colors, logo position, interactive media, position of the navigation system and other elements. The process usually goes smooth because the developer gets the excitement from the client and the client is impressed by the nice design work. BUT... that's also why over 99% of all internet businesses FAIL.
Because there is no quality infrastructure and strategic plan in place. Either the site is poorly marketed, keywords are unfocused, or it doesn't fit into the overall business marketing plan. In most cases, this is where the business owner begins to think the internet is all hype and will not work for their particular business. They disregard stunning statistics, such at 65% of all Americans begin their search for local services on the internet FIRST. This is followed by a competitor leveraging the internet as a strategic advantage and ultimately leads to a loss of revenue by the disillusioned company. So What's the CURE?
Your website needs to be planned. A thorough understanding of your expectations, target demographic, and geographic influences have to be considered. The proper research needs to be done to assure your internet marketing plan has the right infrastructure and architecture and then you can accept the design.
This is easier said than done for the following reasons:
* It's more expensive to create the right plan.
* It's not as fun to start off with planning, expectations, and realistic goals.
* A good team to create your plan has to understand design, marketing,
social media, SEO, custom development, and customer service.
* Most website developers mask their weaknesses. Some are good at design,
others technical work, others SEO, but few are good at it all...
* College students & novices practically give away website design,
which is hard for the business to turn down. Big mistake.
* Consultants usually do not have a complete understanding of the entire process.
Some however do. That is who you want on your team.
AND THE WORSE PART...
Is now the internet developing world has realized that cheaper, do-it-yourself systems sell better than a comprehensive plan. So many companies provide "simple solutions" (because it is high profít, low overhead), and the one who ends up suffering is your business. Be Smart and Eat Your Vegetables First...
Then have Dessert.
Proper planning is the cure. Hiring an experienced company to help you is the one way you will truly have an opportuníty to dominate your market online. It will cost a little more, it won't be as fun up front, but it will be worth it in the end.