In this day and age websites are a critical part of business, or at least they should be. But we all know that establishing an online presence requires, time money and commitment. There are still companies that think their website is just an online brochure, but it should be much more then that. When executed correctly it can help increase sales, reduce costs such as support for example and it helps to improve customer relations. A website should be an investment that is nurtured over time. The first building block of a successful website is refreshing the content in a timely fashion. While all companies, even Blue Olive, has the best of intentions of keeping their website current, it is a more daunting task then most realize and can often be neglected because the business of running your business takes priority – but that’s a whole other blog…
Input is the foundation for a website and this worksheet should help identify the goals of a new site including audience, look and feel, functionality and content. You should allow every person involved in the project fill out his or her own form. Skip the questions not relevant to your project, and once all the information is gathered, collate into a single document and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help get your site off the ground or revise a tired and outdated site.
1. Project Scope
a. In order for Blue Olive to get to know your company a little better a brief background is needed. This will provide better insight into what you are looking to accomplish not just for your site but for you company.
b. This should be followed by a brief description of the project.
c. There should already be a budget set aside for your website so that miscommunication and disappointment is avoided. Budgets are a driving factor into what can and can’t be built and/or programmed.
a. What do you wish to accomplish with your website? – a well thought out or defined goal must be considered if you want to build a successful site. Think things through, even if you start small, you can grow with ease if the site requires a particular approach or feature in the future.
b. What are the expectations of the website?
c. Do you want to sell a product online or will this be an extension to your traditional bricks and mortar business?
d. Will the website accompany a new product launch?
e. Do you want to collect information from your users (aka data mining) so that you can establish a better profile of them and have the ability to communicate with them via outgoing emails later?
f. Will you expect people to use search engines to find your site (if so SEO or search engine optimization should be budgeted) or will established customers use it for informational purposes?
3. Target and Project Management
a. Who is your company’s primary target audience? If Blue Olive has a profile it can be easier to plot out a design with that group in mind, so try to give us an idea about the audience including
iv. Income level,
v. Marital status, etc.
b. How often will the site be updated? CMS (Content Management System) tools allow for self management and therefore do not tether you to an agency when a small change is necessary.
4. Site Structure
a. Most companies don’t have a structure in mind when they contact Blue Olive. However, a structure, blue print, or site map is an important part of the price setting formula. Blue Olive can help you in that area but it’s always better to do some research on that particular topic so that you can determine the number of pages your site will be. Just like a collateral brochure with numerous pages is more expensive than a tri-fold, so too are many web pages. Browsing the internet for examples of sites you like and don’t like is very wise. This will also help you identify and define the major content areas.
b. Think about the navigation and how to keep it from being complex. People will quickly leave your site if it takes too long to find something or they feel lost within the site. While people want content, good web design will have the right balance between visual appeal, content, and usability. A website with an amateurish design will not provide credibility and visitors potentially won’t buy anything from an untrustworthy looking site.
c. Will you need a back-end to house encrypted information or manage an e-commerce site? If so purchase of an annual security certificate is a must to include in your budget.
a. This needs to be at the top of the list. Use the site structure as an outline and then define the content for each page. Knowing how much copy and or visuals (aka content) needs to be housed on each page on the front end and ensure that the design will compensate.
b. Content is king and it is necessary for a site to be searchable. It should also drive users back to your site. Like we mentioned previously, a regularly updated website is a factor not to underestimate. A well updated site together with cleanly coded pages will get a higher ranking on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
c. If the budget allows, a professional copywriter is the best way to ensure your site communicates its message – Blue Olive can handle that too.
6. Summing It Up
a. Company Info
i. Contact Information
ii. Brief background of your company
b. Scope, objectives, and Target Audience
i. Brief description of project
ii. Goals and general scope of the project
iii. Target audience, to whom the site is aimed
c. Budget & Time Frame
i. Provide and estimated budget – allow additional dollars for complex sites or ecommerce sites
ii. Include time frame or upcoming deadlines – the larger the site the longer it takes to build
d. Design Information
i. Site Structure
ii. Overview of design elements that should or must be considered
iii. Corporate identity guidelines (if they exist for your company)
iv. Examples of site you like and dislike (at lease three of each, good to use competitor sites as a point of reference as well)
This list may seem long, but in fact it’s more efficient to keep your answers brief and to the point. This list simply provides us a reference to get the communication started. Only in an ideal world would all the items be answered, so use this as a guide to talk with Blue Olive or to any firm providing you a website.
Need social marketing help.. stay tuned for the next blog.