When you engage with a digital marketing company to create a new website for you, you need to be sure they’re following a proven process for web design and development. Without a solid website strategy as its foundation, your new site may not generate the results you were hoping for. A comprehensive discovery process should be followed to understand your goals, your current pain points, desired functionality, industry standards and best practices and more.
Website Discovery Process
At the start of any new partnership, there should be a learning and discovery stage where your agency/team takes the time to go over your goals for growth, KPIs that matter to you and desired functionality for your website.
A competitor review is a valuable process that examines your competitors’ websites to assess the kinds of content and functionality you may want on your own. This also gives you a chance to see how others in your industry are presenting themselves in terms of verbiage, imagery, colors, etc.
The outputs of a really productive discovery process include recommendations for your navigation and sitemap (how your website will be structured), recommendations on design and technical recommendations for various plugins that may be needed. You can then use that sitemap as a literal map to guide you throughout the development process.
Once you have a plan of attack and know what pages you want to create, you can then get into the process of designing the site and writing copy. Different agencies do this process differently; some may write all the copy first before moving into design while others may produce a design first with content to follow.
The two most important things to remember during this phase of the project are SEO and mobile-friendly design. On the copywriting side, it’s critical that you keep your business’s core keywords and phrases in mind when thinking about what your site should say. Each page should have its own keyword focus and have rich content to support that main idea.
On the design side, it’s critical in today’s digital-centric world that you also have a mobile-friendly design in addition to a traditional desktop design. This ensures that users get the same great experience on their mobile devices that they get on the computer.
The beauty of WordPress is that you can create various “modules” or “features” that you can carry throughout your site. For example, if you have a roster of CPAs who specialize in different industries, you may want to create some kind of feature on industry landing pages for corresponding CPAs. These are the kinds of magical things that come out of the development process, and specifically with WordPress.
As developers take the designs and content that were created in the previous stage, they should keep those same considerations in mind that were mentioned earlier-SEO-friendly and mobile-friendly. It’s important that the design and development teams work well together, because it should be an iterative process where the designer can review and make tweaks after development to ensure everything looks visually appealing.
Extensive Website Testing
Before your new website is launched, a thorough testing phase is absolutely critical. You don’t want to put a website out into the world that doesn’t work right, as that could just irritate potential customers and put them off.
The website team you choose to work with should put your site through an extensive testing process that intentionally tries to “break” certain functionality. This gives the team the opportunity to test out tracking, form submissions, downloads, and more.
Things can also get lost in the process, which is why it’s nice to have that sitemap to go back to. Your team should compare the site to original plans to confirm that your wishlist and goals are being met as you agreed upon.
Post-Launch Testing and Results
Once your website has been launched, it doesn’t stop there. A really thorough website development team will have a proven process for post-launch testing as well to make sure results are tracking and functionality is still working as expected.
The best part of the entire website process is examining results a few months or a year out from launch. Comparing results from your old website to your new one will (hopefully) show you that your investment is paying off. Metrics like organic traffic, conversion rates and web sessions are helpful to measure your site’s success.
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