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Successful Website Projects: 4 Things to Discuss BEFORE You Start

Designing a new website, or redesigning your old website, is a large project to undertake. Larger than most people think.

According to SME Website Statistic, 48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business. So, the price of a web design failure can be high.

Don’t worry! This post will start you on the path to a successful website project today.

We’ll cover four key areas to discuss internally with your team BEFORE you start the website project.

Though our team walks our clients through this process during every project, overwhelmingly, clients that have done internal work before we begin the project have greater success.

Organizational Strategy and Goals

A website does not get designed in a vacuum.

Meaning: your website is one of the foundational pieces of your marketing strategy, so it should help your organization move towards its long-term goals.

Ask yourself how your website can support your goals to boost online donations, organizational memberships, email sign-ups, social engagement, etc.

What obstacles are currently preventing success?

For most people, the obstacles that are preventing success fall into a few categories.

1. Brand and Design: “Our website looks like it’s from the GeoCities era!”

OK – maybe it’s not that bad, but a brand refresh can go a long way to build trust with your constituencies, and position your organization as a leader.

Think about the specific elements that might need updating: logo, color palette, fonts, content language, etc.

2. UX Design and Architectural: “Our users report it’s hard to find stuff.”

This is common comment that we hear from organizations looking to update their website.

The solution:

Gather a better understanding of who your audience is, and what they are trying to accomplish when they get there.

Stakeholder interviews can be extremely effective method for gathering this information.

3. System Integration: “Our website and CRM don’t talk to each other.”

Ever downloaded a CSV from one system and uploaded it into your CRM?

I thought so. We all have had that *pleasure*.

If systems don’t talk, they suck up valuable staff resources. Now’s the time to get serious about integration. Investing some money today will pay off in the long run.

4. Staff Training: “I can’t update our website content.”

In the age of content marketing, control of your website is a must. Your visitors expect fresh content constantly.

Bottom line:

Make sure you you get trained on how to manage your website.

Great, I have my obstacles, now what?

It’s important to provide context to the obstacles. Once identified, it’s important to better understand how they contribute to your goals not getting met.

For example: “I spend so much time downloading and uploading CSV’s to our CRM, that I can’t follow-up to thank our donors.”

The ultimate guide to online donations

Know Your Audience

I can’t stress how important this element is:

It’s hard to engage an audience that you don’t fully understand. Take the time to get to know and understand them.  Your success counts on it.

Your organization should have a clear description for each audience group your work with and the top 3 things that you want them to do.

Do you know what they do on your site currently?

Do you know what you WANT them to do on your site?

Notice: there is a big difference between what they do, and what you’d like them to do. This is an important distinction.

How do you measure success on our website?

It’s hard to measure if you never set goals.

We find that many people don’t set goals because they don’t want to know if they’re not meeting them. Failure is not celebrated enough.

Failure to meet a goal can be as bad as blowing a goal out of the water because maybe you set your expectations too low.

At the end of the day, you need establish what you’re going to measure and how you’re going to measure it.

How to get started

Getting this conversation started can be difficult, especially in an organization that has a lot of voices to be heard.  Here are some keys:

  1. Set expectations that you would like to hear all staff thoughts on these matters, but not all suggestions provided will be implemented on the new website. It’s important to establish this early and often.
  2. Internal surveys can be helpful to facilitate this process.
  3. Make sure to engage senior staff early in the planning process.  Getting their buy-in on the project is extremely important.
  4. Download our comprehensive guide that breaks down the technology and strategies into easy to follow steps. The solutions are simpler than you think.