Website redevelopments are projects often handed to someone in marketing. They are expected to liaise with the agency, manage stakeholders up the food chain and know everything about web design.

Thankfully, over the course of a decade in the website building biz, Butterfly has picked up a few must-haves and must-dos guaranteed to add value to, and streamline web projects.

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Invest in real photography and content

All companies are tempted to save dollars where possible, but when it comes to a website’s copy and imagery — Don’t cut corners!

Unfortunately for the thrifty among us, it doesn’t take a trained eye to spot a prosaic stock image. Actually, there’s no faster way to instantly age a website and devalue a brand.

On the other hand, when a company invests in real photography, they look about a million times better than their competitors who don’t; it demonstrates care, integrity and pride in a brand. The best bit is it’s not even that expensive for a simple shoot that produces really lovely photographs a business can own.

Copy is the same, companies should be investing in a content strategy and good copywriters. Start the process by looking at the users, what do they need and what are they looking for?

Then, create for them.

The sooner you develop a content strategy in the life of a website (re)build the better. The content should lead the design, not the other way around.

If a content strategy looks like breaking the bank, do a deep dive on the current navigation, what is needed and what can be ditched. Companies often find their site has 50 per cent more content than it needs, and that’s a good starting point for organising the rest of the content and reducing costs.

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Have defined success metrics

Defining success has never been easier (or more complicated) than it is in the age of endless data. We can measure pretty much anything, so do it.

It's useful for companies to be able to say whether a new website has met or exceeded expectations, but to do it properly clear benchmarks need to be set from the outset.

Companies should take stock of their current website and define the purpose of their new one, then make some calls about what metrics best align with that purpose.

For example, a news site may prefer to track fluctuations in pages per session to ensure ad revenue is increasing, while an online store may prefer to see a rise in repeat customer rates. There’ll always be more than one metric worth tracking, but focusing on a core 4 or 5 will ensure the web build has a defined pathway.

The sitemap is for the user journey, not business organisation

As websites age something troubling tends to happen — The sitemap stops being a useful tool and representation of the user journey easily discoverable by search engines and morphs into a complex, jargon filled representation of a company’s departmental structure impacting badly on SEO.

We see it regularly and we know how to fix it, but it's good for companies to come to grips with the reasons sitemaps exist and how to stop the rot.

Sitemaps are built to help users seamlessly navigate a website and find the information they need. Similarly, search engines use them to index the pages of a website, making them integral to SEO.

They are not intended to be internal signposts for different departments to manage their content. As such, if a page is for a product targeted at families, it should be named in a way that is attractive to families, not in a way only the department dealing with that product understands.

Companies taking a clean and clear sitemap to the agency building their site will save time, and money.

The importance of internal consultation

Once all the stakeholders have been successfully wrangled by an external project manager, investments have been made in sparkling new content and the rewards of a successfully managed project are about to be reaped, it is super easy to get caught up in the throes of finalising a fruitful website building journey.

But, if the site hasn’t been analysed by the staff at ground-zero, the people who speak to your users and understand them best, it may be doomed before both keys are turned.

Organising internal consultations with all departments and those at the coalface before finally signing off on a job well done, will ensure all i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. It’s an invaluable step in a successful, streamlined project.

That’s part two of our website building hacks done. If you missed part one, here it is. If you’d like more, drop us a line and we can chat about your next web project.