Website Planning Tips for Busy Decision-Makers
Thinking About Those Website Updates? Start Planning Now for the Year Ahead.
With the start of a new year, many of us face the daunting challenge of attempting to wrap up loose ends while simultaneously planning for the year ahead. So what do you do when you are a marketing director, manager, or business owner who is responsible for your organization's most important communications vehicle - your website?
Here are a few tips to help you prioritize your goals and organize your planning for a successful web presence in the year ahead.
Reach Out to Your Advisory "Team"
Unless you manage all aspects of your website's development, management, and digital marketing independently, you'll want to get input from a group of folks that you can count on to help you make some quick assessments and decisions regarding your website and digital media. In some cases, this group may be just you and a colleague who wears many hats, or in larger organizations it may be an entire department. You may outsource some or all of your web and digital services, in which case you'll want to talk to your vendors and have them help you with assessments and recommendations. Basically, your team for this purpose will consist of the folks that are in a position to advise you about your web presence, and who can help you make smart decisions for future progress. That's the place to start.
Check Your Analytics and Conversions
It's always helpful to have objective data to help inform your decision-making, so the first place you'll want to take a look is your website analytics.
- How has your website performed this year compared to last year?
- Are there particular areas where you have enjoyed success, or seen a decline?
- Is your website effectively converting visitors: are people taking the actions you want them to take on your site?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you identify where you want to focus. If you are not sure whether you have this data, or how to get it, congratulations - you've just identified your first priority: getting a handle on your web analytics!
Does Your Website Meet Modern Standards?
It's always fun to contemplate new design updates or feature enhancements, but if your website isn't currently in line with contemporary best practices, or if it doesn't do what it's supposed to, you've just identified another priority goal for updating your web presence. Key items to consider include:
- Site Security - website security is no longer optional and is something you'll want to make sure you have planned properly to protect your organization, and your users.
- Mobile Compatibility - with so many users on smartphones, it's important to make sure that your website is not just mobile-friendly, but optimized to perform effectively across all devices, from desktop down to tablet and handhelds.
- Site Speed - Is your site fast enough to satisfy users, wherever they may be? If not, you'll want to see what can be done to improve your site speed.
Consider Content Management
If you are not directly involved with the publication process for your website, social media, or other communications channels, talk to the folks who are hands-on with content management. Find out what they have to say.
- Are there certain things they would like to be able to do with your content management system that they cannot do currently?
- Are there bottlenecks with content development or the publication process for your blog or Facebook page?
If there are any issues with your site's content management or publication process it's definitely something you'll want to prioritize so that it will be more efficient in the coming year.
Review What's Worked, and What Hasn't
We can learn a lot from history, even if it's only 12 months old. Have you tried new things that have been successful over the past year; have you taken some risks that have fallen flat? Now may be a good time to double down on your wins, and take stock of any misses to minimize a repeat.
Seek Input and Consolidate Wish-Lists
Over the course of the year folks within your organization will often gain new insights based on their experience with the company website - good, bad, or otherwise. Maybe something doesn't work quite right and it led to customer confusion or complaints; maybe you added an update or a new feature that people really loved, or perhaps one of your competitors made some enhancements that have left you wanting for more.
All of these experiences typically result in new ideas and "wish lists" for enhancements or fixes that people may feel passionate about, but quickly fall by the wayside as time goes on. Now is a perfect time to revisit these ideas and consolidate all of those wish lists that may be in circulation amongst your team. Ask around.
Look at Your Financials, and Your Calendar
The bottom line often dictates what you can do, and when you can do it. Knowing what you want to accomplish in the coming year means that you can budget for it, and that's often half the battle. If you have certain events or milestones that dovetail with your website or digital marketing planning, now is a perfect time to put it on your calendar, and your ledger. If your accountant is telling you to increase year-end expenditures, now is also a good time to take action and invest in projects for the year to come.
While you are taking the time to review your website planning, also make sure that you take the time to get commitments from everyone involved. Who is going to manage these new initiatives that you are planning? Make sure they put it on their calendar now. Will you be hiring a vendor to start new projects for you? Let them know when you want it started, and when you need it completed.
Last but not least, Review Your Goals
It's always important to consider how any new website updates or digital marketing initiatives will help to facilitate your organization's goals. We have an ever-increasing set of tools and technologies at our disposal; this introduces some exciting possibilities, but it's also easy to waste time and resources chasing the next big thing,
Ultimately, the best question to ask is how you can use the web to operate more efficiently, reach your target audiences, improve business, and facilitate your larger mission.
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