Follow These Five Steps to Prevent Website PTSD: Post Traumatic Site Design
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The decision to build a new website for your business can fill you with excitement and optimism. And why not? The anticipation of having a beautifully designed, search engine dominating, high converting, the digital masterpiece is enough to give you butterflies.
But then you receive the actual finished product.
You thought you were on the same page as your web design company. You thought you were clear about what you wanted. But now, the only thing you can think about is how disappointed you are. To make things worse, you’ve already invested too much time and money to go back and fix it, so you decide to settle (even if you know that your new website may actually hurt your credibility and search rankings.)
Welcome to “post-traumatic site design.”
No need to worry, “PTSD” is preventable. You just need to follow five simple steps to ensure your finished website project lives up to your expectations.
Find your website’s “why”
The first thing you need to do before even starting a web design project is to figure out your “why.” What is your reason for creating a new website? If it’s your first website, that’s one thing. But if you’re replacing an existing site, you need to be clear about why your current one isn’t good enough, and what it will take for your new one to be better.
When it comes to the new clients who reach out to my dental marketing agency, Golden Proportions Marketing, for replacement websites, they are almost always dissatisfied with one (or more) of the following aspects of their current site.
Like a car, websites can gradually break down over time and show signs of wear. Your page load times might slow down. Updating your content may start to seem more cumbersome. Widgets and plugins may start to get glitchy and unreliable.
Patching up problems like these makes sense for a while, but eventually, it can make more sense to trade in your old site for a newer model.
Face it, if your visitors have a lousy, frustrating experience on your website, what are the odds they will ever do business with you? In addition to the functionality issues I mentioned above, users can be easily turned off by bad design, hard-to-follow navigation, and poor content.
Most websites are intended to attract new leads and convert them into customers. It shouldn’t be surprising that if you combine poor functionality with a poor user experience, you’ll get poor conversions and an empty sales funnel.
I have to admit, we sometimes get fooled as to what our new website clients are going to be like. We typically review their existing website before sitting down with them, to get a first impression of their business. But later, when we actually meet them in person, we realize their website is a bit of a bait-and-switch.
Even if your website is saying the things you think your customers want to hear, that kind of disconnect between who you say you are and who you really are confuses your customers and only weakens the amount of trust they have in you.
If you’re fortunate enough to have all of the above in working order on your website, it won’t mean much if you aren’t ranking well on Google for your targeted keywords. Sometimes ranking higher is just a matter of improving your SEO, but even that encompasses website functionality, design, navigation, and content. Your SEO expert should be able to give you an honest assessment of how deep your ranking issues run, and whether or not a new website is the best course of action.
Be an informative provider
The more you put into your new website, the more you’ll get out of it. If your web design company has to spend a lot of time tracking down information and assets, that will add hours (and expense) to the project. Help them do their job efficiently by providing them with the essentials they need. Below are some of the most common things you should be prepared with for a seamless website project.
Login and account information
Gather up your usernames and passwords for your current web hosting provider, domain registrar, email provider, Google Analytics, and social media accounts and have them ready if, and when, your website company requests them. The level of access they need will depend on the scope of your project, but it’s good practice to have that information collected in an organized manner anyway.
Your web company may be writing content, taking photography, and shooting videos for your new site, but they will still need the information to make that all happen. Have accurate descriptions of your services and/or products, biographical information for your team, and relevant facts about your company ready to hand over. If you do have finalized content or visual assets that are ready to use, even better. They may still be edited and optimized by your web company, but they will still save a great deal of time and effort.
You may think a logo is all you need to hand over for your site design, but your web developer will want to see samples of how your logo has been used (including signage, brochures, and stationery). Also important are your mission statement and values, which will help define who you really are and build authenticity.
The early stages of a web design project are the best time to bring your ideas to the table so they can be discussed and developed. Collect samples of other websites you like, features you’ve seen, and any other inspiration that has resonated with you. Make sure your ideas are heard and considered, but also be open-minded to what your web company has to say.
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Make time for the project
There are many moving parts to a web design project, and following a schedule is important to keep the project on time and budget. Your involvement will be required throughout the process, and setting aside time and sticking to your commitments will help the web team keep things rolling smoothly. Also be sure to allocate as much time as you need to do your part right, whether it is creating a piece of content or reviewing what has been completed. Cutting corners and only devoting part of your attention will just lead to added time in the end to fix things that could have been addressed the first time around. If you can’t personally set aside the proper amount of time, consider delegating some or all of the decision-making to someone you trust.
Get in the mood
Odds are you’re not a skilled web designer. (And even if you think you are, you’re probably not.) That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be involved in the design process from the beginning. The best way to get on the same page as the design team is to review mood boards. Mood boards are simply an informally assembled combination of images, colors, and fonts to convey a certain feel. It’s best to compile a few different variations to get an idea of what kind of site theme you prefer, whether it’s corporate, informal, warm, cool, serious, or fun. That takes a lot of guesswork out of the designers’ jobs and eliminates unpleasant surprises down the road.
Be selective with features
Finally, a bit of helpful advice. There are a lot of really cool features you can include on a website. And I mean a LOT. The worst thing you can do is go overboard with bells and whistles. Used sparingly, things like motion graphics can help capture and direct attention, but used in excess, they are just noise. Keep your audience in mind, and carefully consider whether or not each added feature improves the user experience.
After all, making your website visitors happy is what it’s all about.