Too Many Companies Try To Skip Steps
When you’re baking bread, you need to take time to let the dough rise. It may not seem like much is happening, but that’s a crucial step for the bread to be light and fluffy and delicious (yay carbs!).
When you’re making a website, you need to take time to follow a recipe too. For us, we start by preparing full creative briefs and content strategies. Skipping those steps risks building a site that is wildly off brand, difficult to manage, unscalable, non-converting, etc.
A creative brief is prepared after (hopefully) extensive research. It needs to succinctly explain your company’s brand attributes, target audiences, objectives and much more. We need to understand clearly who you are, what you do, who you do it for, how you talk about yourself, how you talk to others, how you do business, how you plan to grow, and so much more.
When you think about it: how can you build a website without answering all of those questions and many others.
So we take the time to interview our clients in-depth. Whenever possible, we encourage both qualitative (interviews, focus groups) and quantitative (surveys, demographic data) research. Building a good creative brief allows us to get on the same page as the client. Clients should see themselves and their plans reflected back to them in the document.
The creative brief also spells out what I call the “imperatives:” what are the most important things we need to accomplish here? Do we want downloads, contact forms filled, phone calls?
Once the creative brief is completed (or nearly so), we begin work on the content strategy for your new website. This is a step that is often overlooked by web designers, especially if they prefer building stylized, design-heavy sites.
Content strategies help everyone understand exactly what kind of content is needed now and in the future for this website to be successful. This is where a content outline comes into play where pages are listed with different content types and functions. We want to identify the goals and key messaging of each page.
The strategy should show how you’re integrating your web content with your social media content and your public relations or issues management initiatives.
If you want a blog, who is going to be writing for it? How often?
What’s your tone of voice? Is it the same across your site and social media?
What kind of graphics, photos and videos do you envision? How are you creating those?
Who is in charge of all this content?
Do you need to hire anyone or have sufficient staffing to handle the vision you’re setting for the new site?
What kind of budget do you need to allocate for content development (text, photos, videos, etc.)?
What kind of budget do you need to allocate for content amplification?
Once you start scratching the surface, the questions keep coming. The better job you do of answering them, the more successful your site will be.
Iteration and Evolution
Content strategies should envision how the site will change and evolve. In our opinion, it’s almost always preferable to make adjustments to a site over time rather than undertaking a complete site redesign every few years. That’s one of the reasons we include ongoing web development in our monthly retainers; we’re partners for the long haul.
But reviewing and revising content and functionality requires both human and financial resources. You should build the processes in advance to ensure you’ll have people in place who are in charge of identifying needs and implementing changes.
If you’re tired of your old site and our process sounds like a breath of fresh air, we’d be super happy to talk to you. You’re our kind of people! :)