Posted by Rich Hohne
on Jan 9th, 2012 in Marketing
| 6 comments
I am privileged to be on the board of the best non-profit in Bozeman, MT. It helps at-risk youth stay out of trouble and get motivated by exposing them to the outdoors – snowboarding, rafting, climbing, etc. It is an amazing organization run by a small staff of highly dedicated, driven people. As part of my role on the volunteer board, I advise on marketing the organization’s efforts that, ultimately, lead to more dollars raised and more kids helped.
Last week I met with our dedicated Executive Director and the conversation ultimately came to the organization’s website. Was it doing what we wanted it to do? Was it reaching the various audiences we need to reach – kids, donors, parents, etc? We agreed we would look at a possible site redesign (or tweak of current site) for the 2012 year. I offered to help in the process.
Flash forward 4 days and I opened my email this past weekend and there it was – an email from our Executive Director with a site redesign attached. He had, apparently, talked to a graphic designer we work with and they busted out a redesign. It actually looked pretty good. It was consistent with the organization’s brand. It looked interesting. Then I had to catch myself. “Wait, does this site redesign actually achieve what we need it to achieve?”
It seems we like to lead with graphic deign. We like to see what something is going to look like. We do this with advertisements, logos, websites, business cards and every other tool a small business uses. However, the best thing we could do is NOT to rush out and fire up Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign. We first need to STOP and do some homework.
Here, in a nutshell, are the things you have to contemplate/address prior to site design. These need not be lengthy steps, but thoughtfully addressing these topics will help make sure you are best optimizing the website for your business or organization.
- Write down current functionality in a spreadsheet. Stuff like “Contact Form for Leads” or “Film Gallery”
- Look at functionality that you don’t have, but you think could help the site work better for your organization. You probably have a wish list somewhere in your head.
- Write down the GOALS for the website. What does your organization need to get from the site? These should be business drivers like “get sales leads” or “sell X or Y on website”.
- Develop Site Map of the pages we need to include in this site. A site map is simply a way for you to think about navigation possibilities (which is often largely overlooked) and what content needs a page of its own. For navigation terms, think about what the user is likely to search for. Help them out…if they search for “dog food” to get to your site, it could be a great navigation term. Learn more about site maps here.
- Wireframe: this might seem silly, but they are super helpful. After you know the pages you will have, wireframes help with the building blocks of the design – navigation, content blocks, contact info, etc. Wireframes make you think visually without having to commit to design. Make sure you don’t miss key content and functionality. There are several affordable wireframe programs online to help making beautiful wireframes.
- Arrange all of the branding materials together. Often times, over the previous period of time, you have used different “looks”. Which one resonates with you? Which ones have lead to more leads, sales or other business goals?
Providing your digital assets as well as the goals, site map, wireframe, etc. will be music to your designer’s ears. Because you have done your homework and slowed down, your new site is much more likely to work for you and not against you. Furthermore, your new site will help you achieve your business goals, which is the only reason for a website in the first place.