Experience has taught us not to build websites primarily for our clients, although we do this for them all the time with remarkable success. Doyen of web design creation Jeffrey Zeldman believes design without meaningful content is merely decoration. Elsewhere he says that websites fail, if they spend too little time on the interactions that matter to their users.
Website Marketing Tips & Questions
We believe in asking probing questions prior to embarking on web design or redesign. These boil down to three fundamental inbound principles:
- Marketing is not the same as selling. Marketing develops trust, and creates a climate conducive to listening to the sales team
- Marketing is a long haul occupation. Reaching the Holy Grail of page 1 of SERPs is only half the journey.
- Marketing is the pursuit of excellence. We must monitor results and make adjustments that lead to continuous improvements.
Moreover, we should revisit our existing assumptions before considering a website creation or even a so-called "simple revamp". This article focuses on the questions to ask prior to starting any work. After all, it makes sense to keep things in the family, before reaching out and hiring a web design agency.
We Need to Know the End Game Goals before We Start
When mother-in-law comes to Sunday lunch, it’s a good idea to have a game plan. What goals do we hope to achieve, and how sincere is our invitation. Will we let her wander freely around the house? Or are some rooms in lock-down curfew ... perhaps we should ask her what she likes to eat before we do the shopping. Not everybody likes the same things, including spam and canned solutions.
“The mother-in-law came round last week. It was absolutely pouring down. So I opened the door and I saw her there and I said, 'Mother, don't just stand there in the rain. Go home.” (Les Dawson, English comedian)
Perhaps you should ask your other half what their Mum’s purpose is in visiting. She may be genuinely interested in knowing how ‘you kids are doing’. Mothers-in-law are among the most determined of the species. I was searching for a nice mother-in-law quote and I found some rather rude ones. Finally, I settled on this one by novelist-lawyer Ayelet Waldman:
“I went from resenting my mother-in-law to accepting her, finally to appreciating her. What appeared to be her diffidence when I was first married, I now value as serenity.”
I want you to be super cool about your website project coming up too. Remaining calm, peaceful and untroubled will help you marshal your thoughts. While you figure out why you are doing it, which should be the purpose of the exercise.
6 Vital Answers behind Successful Web Design Creation
1. Who are our primary visitors and where are they in the purchasing cycle?
While the person visiting a B2C website is likely to be the decision maker, this is seldom the case in a B2B. Company directors often use pa’s to harvest interesting sites, after which they may pass the ones they like to purchasing committees, who make a decision.
These persona motives may vary considerably in terms of the information they seek. A technical evaluator is less interested in cost than an accountant, who may have no time for functional details.
Website redesign must therefore meet the needs of a variety of users.
2. How do we want to influence these peoples’ behavior?
Marketing is not the same as selling. Marketing develops trust, and creates a climate conducive to listening to the sales team. Do we want to increase conversion rates, have more news subscriptions, or grow the number of visitors to particular pages?
The inbound principles I mentioned help us understand our hierarchy of personas better. They guide us to ways to influence them, especially when analytics tell us what interests them most about our site. Interviewing customers, and researching reasons behind their behavior helps us gain a broader understanding of our goals. Never be shy to ask other people for opinions and advice on what we do.
3. What influences our primary and secondary personas most?
The primary persona could be the pa, the secondary the engineer, and the decision-maker the third level. Our inbound marketing agency makes astute use of Big Data, to track different personas as they explore clients’ websites. HubSpot attribution reporting can track their journeys, and identify where they were at the damascene moment of their conversion.
It is so important to know what the user wants - as opposed to what the client thinks they do. Without this, a website redesign can turn into futile, fruitless expenditure.
4. What may be preventing our leads from purchasing?
This is one of the most important questions to ask before designing a website, or revamping one. Google analytic reports can pinpoint where users bounce away, or dump their carts. In the case of new web design creation, we have to go out into the market place and interview real people.
We all love being asked an opinion, and giving advice. We can use this trait to our advantage in our pursuit of excellence, by asking customers what causes them to delay purchasing decisions. Our sales team will have their own well-founded opinions too. When we know where the hurdles are, we can jump over them with nimble aplomb.
5. All is fair in love and business
We can interrogate our competition for ‘advice’ provided the information is in the public domain, or fairly obtained. Googling our industry - most likely with a location suffix - will bring up a list of the competition in our space.
Why are they higher on Google compared to us? What makes their content sing in their users’ minds, while ours lumps along? Perhaps they are smarter at positioning themselves with compelling images and words. Maybe our offering has gone off the boil and needs refreshing. We don’t want to discover this during or after website redesign.
We must know now, even if the truth hurts and it delays the project.
6. What is the core message we want to convey?
Consumers purchase benefits, not goods and services for the sake of them.
Our clarion is not ‘buy, buy now’. It is something more subtle, like peace of mind, self-actualization, and trust.
We all aspire to these things, and as suppliers of almost anything this is what we should deliver. Consider these prime examples of how to package the ordinary courtesy of HubSpot:
L'Oréal: "Because You're Worth It"
BMW: "Designed for Driving Pleasure"
Tesco: "Every Little Helps
Avis: “Because We Try Harder
Kentucky: Finger Licking Good”
De Beers: “Diamonds Are Forever”
McDonald’s” “I’m Loving It”
You get the picture. How do you help people chase after and catch their dreams?
Getting to the Fun Part of Web Design Creation
We are over the last hurdle of questions to ask before considering a new website. From here on, it should be a fun run after you choose the right website design agency. Yep, that was a commercial. They allow me one towards the end of the article so that’s another box ticked off.
A thousand years ago, July 03, 2015 to be exact, Martin May wrote a brilliant article titled ‘Darwin and the Art of Web Design’ and this is going to be my stocking filler for the day.
Martin builds his take on SEO inbound principles on Darwin’s premise that nature adjusts as environmental conditions change. That much is obvious when we acquire a new spouse, editor, manager or whatever. We adapt in order to survive. Therefore, we need to ask ourselves constantly “What’s different in my market compared to yesterday. Do I need to do something about it?”
When I owned a brick and mortar store selling pots and pans, and knives and glasses (we all do at least one crazy thing), a quick stroll through the mall told me what the competition was doing. Now ask yourself a question or two. When did you last visit competing websites, and social media pages? How often to you monitor trends in your industry?
We cannot trade on the high street, or in cyber space without unpicking our unique difference. So that we understand it, and can explain it to the people who visit our website.
“Know your enemy competition and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” (Sun Tzu, Chinese general / philosopher, 5th Century BC)
Now that’s a thought that’s still reverberating after 2,500 years ...