My family and I are currently renovating our home. It's a major undertaking of time and money. When the work's complete, I'm going to be certain to upkeep our investment so that we can live comfortably - but also so I can ensure that all of the resources that went into it were well spent.
This same logic should be applied to the development of a website.
Your website is the workhorse of your organization. No single aspect of your marketing does more to simultaneously promote your mission, gather information and transact business.
To this end, you should audit your website every 6 months based on three criteria. If it’s not hitting on one of these factors, you should address that specific component; if it isn’t performing on two or three of these items, it may be time for a redesign. Here are the three:
1. Your Website Should Support Your Brand.
First, let’s get one thing straight. Brand is a thing. Some people consider the concept of brand as “marketing speak” or something that only large corporations must concern themselves with. But every organization, no matter how small, has a story: the way it does things, the mission it seeks to fulfill, the audience it serves, how it serves that audience, and so forth.
Call it brand, call it story, call it raison d’etre, your organization has one. And your website should support this essential element. This goes beyond showcasing your logo. It means ensuring that every aspect of your site – design, content, imagery, user experience and logo - speaks to and supports that story.
- If your organization’s brand is one of “refined elegance,” have you chosen colors, typography and imagery that support that vision?
- If your audience is say, retirees, are all of your site processes designed so that users who may not be the most Web literate can navigate your site and meet your intended goals?
- If you’re selling products, is your mobile presence fast, optimized and providing an incredible checkout process?
Take a step back and think carefully about your mission, who you serve and how you want to be perceived. Are all the elements of your website consistently meeting that vision?
2. Your Website Should Achieve a Business Objective
Your website shouldn’t exist simply to tell people you have one. It should act as a business tool, working towards a concrete goal or set of goals. This doesn’t mean it needs to sell things per se, but it should be prompting actions to drive your organization forward.
- Directing visitors to a blog or social channels
- Selling products or services
- Accepting sign-ups for events, speaking engagements or tours
- Showcasing products or services to then prompt customer calls
- Collecting information for future outreach
- Prompting users to sign-up for email lists
- Providing directories of information that then prompt users to take further action
In short, don’t underutilize your site. Ask, “What can our site be doing for us to drive our business or cause forward?” Depending upon how you’ve constructed your site, adding tools and processes of this nature doesn’t necessarily mean major costs or a complete overhaul.
3. Your Website Should Take Manual Processes Off Your Plate
How can your site make your life easier?
Web design has come a long way. Business processes that until recently had to be done manually can now be automated directly through the Web.
Examples here might include:
- Establishing chatbot capability for customer service requests
- Accepting applications for scholarships, jobs or grants (and then implementing a response process directly through the site)
- Creating directories and databases that allow staff and users to get the information they need quickly, online.
Think through the day-to-day tasks that give you or your staff headaches – or that don’t represent the best use of their time. Chances are an agency like ours, or a reputable developer can create something to meet your needs using standard Web technologies (that is, if they don’t already exist in pre-packaged form). The result can mean great efficiencies for your business as well as a happier team.
Let’s face it. A website costs a lot of money. (Or, if you’ve gone the DIY route, it cost you a lot of time). Shouldn’t you ensure that your investment is paying off? Take a moment to review your site carefully against the three criteria listed above. If it’s not supporting your growth, it may be time for some repairs, or even a full-on renovation.