Three steps to a great website

If you’re about to refresh your website, you’ll want to ensure your messaging reflects your value proposition. And then you’ll want to brief your design agency so that they can do a great job interpreting your messaging in the design.

So how do you brief – or select – an agency to develop your new website? The first step is to find an agency and check that they can understand your technical (e.g. SEO: ensure people can find it) and marketing needs (visitors have a clear path to navigate your site).

1. Choose great agencies

If you need to find an agency to work with, ask your connections on LinkedIn to recommend someone, or find a website you like and find out who designed it. Ask who the agency has worked for, and why they chose the design style for that audience.

A lot of agencies nowadays profess to be good at everything, but rather than look for an all-rounder, you should ask the agency where they really shine. It’s difficult to be best-in-class at everything, so pick a partner based on experience and expertise.

If you choose to work with multiple agencies, ensure each brings their specific expertise to your site. Use the:

• designers to make it look and feel great and ensure it is functional
• marketing communications agency to perfect your messages and content
• SEO experts to ensure all your hard work is visible and can be discovered. 

And ensure that all of your experts communicate openly to get the best results.

2. Perfect your brief

These are key questions that your agency should ask to inform the design brief. If you don’t know all of the answers, you may need to do some upfront work (for example, value proposition or messaging workshops, or a marketing audit) with other stakeholders in your company to get the answers you need.

• Why do you want a new website?
• What are its objectives? Is it multi-purpose? (engage, inform, sell, generate leads, raise brand awareness)
• What are your company’s brand values? What does your company stand for, are you an ASDA, an M&S, or somewhere in-between?
• How do you want visitors to use the website? This is called the user journey, UX or user experience. What is their point of entry and where do you want them to go when they arrive? Will there be different journeys for different audiences?
• Do you have a value proposition? A clear message of the value you will deliver to the prospects you want to attract. This is easier said than done.
• Who are your competitors both in the real world and the online visibility space? Take into account the physical competitors you come up against, as well as those you are competing with in the online traffic space.
• Who is your target audience? What is their demographic information? Industry, job title, turnover?  Have you profiled your ideal clients?
• What is the tone of the site? (e.g. friendly, professional, educated, technical?)
• How do you want to be perceived?
• What existing brand collateral do you have?
• What messages do you like?
• What has worked in the past?
• What don’t you like?
• Are there any sites that you like the look and feel of?
• What are the absolutes, i.e. brand guidelines, things that must be included no matter what?
• Do you have a site map?

3. Manage the details

Ask questions about the content management system (CMS). Is it easy to update, to add blogs and images, is it compatible with various plugins? This is important as you don’t want to have to call the design agency for every little tweak, blog or news article update.

Ask them how your design agency will manage the process. Avoid paying for everything up front, and always agree on stages and payments before they commence work. Ensure you have a good service level agreement and that you can clearly see a mapped timeline. They will expect things from you so don’t be the block; stick to the deadlines, and if you can’t respond to a request – let them know.


If you enjoyed this blog why not read How to profile your customers