Do You Want to Build a Website?

What’s the most difficult thing you can think of? Brain surgery half-asleep? Explaining blockchain to a Kindergartner (or vice versa) ? Raising small children? All three at once?

How about redesigning your website?

It sounds fun, right?! And your site is about six to seven years old, correct? And you want a, “bold, fresh” look?

Right.

But why does your organization really need a website redesign? Could it be that the content and design of your site is hurting your UX and in turn, your conversions? Even if you have a buyer persona mapped out, it still might not wholly address site-specific behavior during the buyer’s journey. For instance, if your site just has a single generic form on your Contact Page, you’re behind. But don’t vex — bizarrely, only 30% of business sites feature a clear CTA on their Homepage.

If you just want your site to be some eye candy brochureware, you can — meaning it’ll just be a digital version of your organization’s printed materials. But that’s a squandered opportunity, as the most potent part of the internet is its capacity to connect and of course, generate leads. This could manifest in a number of ways, from driving traffic to your podcasts to encouraging users to make a donation.

Managing Expectations

Decide first on the best CMS — the top two are WordPress and Drupal.

Drupal is the choice for complex, content-heavy, high-traffic sites — particularly those with sprawling databases/libraries. WordPress is the most popular though, with its efficiency and ease-of-use. Other 3rd party integrations like Salesforce also need your due consideration in the nascent stages.

If you’re a tech company with a deep Dev bench, they’ll just code the website and it’s finished. Bam. But wait — ensuring the technical functionality of a site and making it a marketing beast that gives you beaucoup leads are not the same. The build of a site takes a series of processes with cadres of varied experts in their respective fields. It’s not an undertaking to be met lightly — you’re going to need help. Cue the Bat-signal — it’s time to hire a digital agency.

Time for Money

Despite you wanting optimized SEO, more intuitive Nav, better in-site search, more striking visuals — when distilled to the essentials (and like most things in life), it comes down to time and money. But mostly money. Your budget will generally trump all other facets of your organization’s decision-making, no matter how much you like the agency’s spec work or strategic recommendations. A proper website redesign could take anywhere from two to six months — and from 25K to ten times that amount. This brings us to:

The True Value of a Deliverable

  • What are you actually paying for?
  • What are you actually getting?
  • Where are the hours going?
  • Who is the money going to?

The answers are below.

Discovery

Digital Strategists toil in macro ideations that are then translated into implementable content, design and development solutions. They’ll engage in a site audit, data/analytics, content strategy, and just straight-up ideas/questions:

  • What’s your brand identity?
  • What’s your messaging?
  • What exactly is best for your site?
  • What precisely are your pain points?

If these aren’t established initially and clearly, they’ll never be.

Sitemap

What shape should the site take? And does size matter? Not as much as value. It’s not about how many pages your site has, but what makes the most sense for your needs — look at your site’s page performance in Google analytics and then act accordingly, i.e., devote energy and time to the content the users are devoting their energy and time on. A sitemap is handled by the agency’s Information Architect, and it will branch out to include everything from top-level pages with header navigation to children pages below to the requisite footer.

Wireframes

The Information Architect continues their preemptive visualization of the site by assigning each page a template to be brought to life later — most sites have an average of ten, all featuring custom layout possibilities.

Now, bust out the Expo markers — or software like Sketch, where the initial wireframes become mock-ups for design. Wireframes are not the finished design — they’ll be comprised of basic boxes instead of proper visual assets and the woeful fake Latin of ‘Lorem Ipsum’ as opposed to real text. It’s not supposed to look good yet  — that’ll come later. But also to be remembered — if something doesn’t show up in the wireframes, it won’t show up in the final site, either.

Design

But wait, we wanted this to look dope, right? Colors, fonts, pics, oh my. Did the wireframes feature square CTA buttons? Yeah — that might change now. A clever Designer follows the idea of the wireframes but will obviously tweak it so that everything looks on point and brand-approved. It’s not just about appealing to the eye, but to the UX as well — harnessing a user’s focus with visual contrast and applying practical navigation are all in a Designer’s purview.

Copywriting

Oh wait, people still read? Despite deflating statistics, such as the fact that users will only look at half of a piece of written content, and then only read 20% of that half (so you’ll read 10% of all this) — quality written content will keep audiences at your site and ensure return visits — the same way quality design draws them in. Remember the following:

  • Break up the text
  • Use arresting H2’s
  • Avoid industry cliches (looking at you, “robust”)

In short, use your own voice — if you don’t have one, you shouldn’t be writing.

Development

The most expensive part of an already expensive process. With good reason — the sheer amount of time and expertise required for quality Developers more than justifies their cost. They take everything that’s come before them and assemble it — setting up a sandbox server, installing the CMS, building page layouts based off the wireframes, stylizing the layouts to match design mock-ups, and … writing a bunch of code. They’ll also oversee site testing and launch, along with tech updates and maintenance.

Project Managers

Throughout this whole process, PM’s deftly handle the business relationship between the client and digital agency, ensuring everything is on schedule and all communication between parties as clear as possible. They’re not just managing the project; they’re managing people.

What do you Value?

After all the planning, the tedium, the ideations, the work, the edits, the hours and money spent with a digital agency — you will in fact have your new website. Will it be everything you imagined? Beyond budget and timeline, the answer to that can be distilled into the following:

  • The quality of your chosen agency
  • How well you articulated your organization’s needs

You weren’t just asking for a touch-up — you needed a whole reinvention of your site. And this rebuild, if done well with the right people, is an investment that will recoup and beyond — be that through the metrics of conversions or brand visibility. Your organization’s very digital identity is at stake.

And for a company or nonprofit in 2019, that identity is everything.

Allow WDG to rebuild your future here.

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