We have already established that your website is one of the most valuable assets of your company. Now you are probably ready to create a new website or refresh an existing one. I bet the idea of it all is completely overwhelming. I am not going to deny the fact that website design and development require a lot of work, particularly when you are starting from scratch. However there are ways to eliminate the pain, and speed up the process.

Let’s take a look at how you can prepare to create a great website.

Articulate your value proposition.

Your website needs to be the perfect expression of you, your brand. It’s the first place people visit when they hear about your brand, and visitors will judge your business within the first 15 seconds of visiting your site. Yes, research says, that’s all you have – 15 seconds.

The first step to articulating who you are is knowing your business inside out. If you know what you do, and what you want to achieve then this step should not be too difficult. However, if you are a little uncertain, or need to refine an out-dated message then asking yourself these questions may help: What business are you in? Why do your customers buy the goods you provide? Who do you want your customers to be?

Create customer profiles.

A key part of your brand building process is to articulate who your customers are. You will not have one type of customer, you will most certainly have a couple. Can you describe their personalities? Hone in on their values and make sure they match your own. Spend time considering where they are. Are they familiar with your brand? How they will find your site? What would they type into google to find you? Do you know what sites they read/visit?

Write down as much as you can about your ideal customers so all their needs and questions can be answered in the content on your site.

Map out what you want your visitors to do.

One of the keys to success online is understanding what you want your customers to do on your site. At this stage key questions to consider are – Where do you want them to go? What do you want them to do? It sounds basic, but many people miss this.

Once it is clear, it will be easier for you to explain the objective of your site to your designer and developer, making it easier for them to map out the shortest journey to achieve each action. It’s their job to help you map the site how your customers will get from A to B in the easiest route, it’s your job to articulate that that’s what you want your visitors to do.

Purchase your domain name (or URL).

As an online player this step should have been part of the process when naming your company. If not, you need to secure your domain name asap. My recommendation is to keep your domain name exactly the same as your go-to-market name. If you have a the or a in your brand name, keep it in your domain name. Consistency is key.

One of the advantages of an online business is that you can take it anywhere, so you may want to avoid being stuck to one country, unless it makes complete sense. I prefer to stick to .com domains, but they are becoming harder to come by.

Purchase all forms of your domain name, even when you are a local business. You may one day scale your local business to more than one country. Owing .com, and for example will help you localise your global domination.

Gather inspiration.

No matter how creative your designer and developer are, they will appreciate some creative input from you. If you believe you have no creativity, I challenge you. Spend time exploring other websites. Make it your vocation for a while. Know what your competitors are doing. What’s trending. List the things you like and what you would like to avoid. Pay close attention to things like images, text, navigation, features, pop-ups, and branding on other website.

Compile all this inspiration. I am not suggesting you then create an fancy moodboard, but have it in a format that will help your designer refine all the options. Then hand it over to your designer and developer.

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