Planning and launching a new business website is exciting. When you first think about redesigning our website, your first impulse is to brainstorm about the design, branding, layout, and colors palettes.
Or get your hands dirty with technical details like a new content management system like WordPress or HubSpot.
Surely design and functionality will give you everything you need to rocket past the competition and land more customers, right?
These are all vital to a successful website launch. And first impressions matter. Each element plays a role in maintaining momentum in your business.
And statistics seem to agree. According to Blue Corona, 48% of people determine the credibility of a business by its website design. Specifically, they found:
- Given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain.
- 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive.
- 48% of people cited a website’s design as the number one factor in deciding the credibility of a business.
- You have 10 seconds to leave an impression and tell them what they’ll get out of your website and company. After this time (and oftentimes before), they’ll leave.
- Web design research found that a crowded web design is the most common mistake small businesses make when designing a website, confusing visitors, and making them hit the back button
A successful website is a result, not a cause
Sadly, many companies jump straight into designing a new website before asking themselves: “What does it take to make my new business website a success?” It’s unfortunate, we’ve seen it countless times, but it happens.
You spend tens-of-thousands overhauling your main website. The design is fresh. The UX is modern. The layout and flow are stunning. You have fast, best-in-class web hosting. But because you only thought about the creative, it flops.
You’ve heard this story before, too. Company X launches a new site that everyone agreed would help grow revenue. But the rush of new visitors never materialized. Your target audience gave a collective “meh.” This is because they relied on the “build it and they will come” approach.
Marketing’s “Build it and hope” is equivalent to advertising’s “spray and pray” approach. No target market research, no keyword or SEO development, no content marketing strategy, no integration between sales and marketing teams.
Just a blind faith that your new website will bring in the customers. (It won’t)
In the rush to make a new website live, many brands never stop to consider their overall marketing strategy to attract potential clients, let alone to quantify what they expect their new website will do for their business.
It happens to the best of us. You get caught up in the creative process of designing a winning website and forget the fundamental elements of marketing.
Have you defined your brand identity?
Who are your target buyer personas and do you know how to reach them?
How do you stack up against the competition?
How do you track performance and measure success?
Will your new website deliver the ROI by doing what we hoped it would do?
What should you do before spending on a new business website?
So, what are the steps you should do before you embark on a new website redesign?
Here are four key strategic elements your team needs before advancing in the creative design process — the same foundation we give our clients for a successful website launch.
1. Know who you’re marketing to
Before you consider design, you need to choose who you’re designing for. We call this designing and developing for your buyer persona.
How do you create a buyer persona? At Atomivox, we use HubSpot’s Buyer Persona development process. It’s legendary.
Defining a target audience is one of the pivotal steps we take our clients through as part of our CORE Discovery workshop.
2. Understand your competition
Second, you need to understand your market and the major players. In business, we know this as a competitive gap analysis or a simple SWOT analysis.
A SWOT analysis is a quick and dirty way to map your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats based on four square scorecard. Wordstream created a helpful template to showcase how to build your SWOT strategy:
Yes, a SWOT analysis is elementary, but it’s helpful. If you’ve never done one, you should. It will help you measure how you stack up against the competition, where you can take the strategic advantage, and what weaknesses you need to watch out for before you design your new company website.
3. Clarify your marketing message
Back in 2016, our agency went through a rough patch. We focused heavily on creative design but soon recognized that design alone couldn’t carry the full weight of our client’s goals.
Clients were trusting us, and we were failing. Everyone was frustrated. Then we discovered the StoryBrand framework, developed by Nashville-based, best-selling author Donald Miller.
We first heard about the StoryBrand Framework on the Entreleadership podcast. Those two episodes sparked our first real lightbulb moment and crystalized the direction of our agency.
From that moment on, we were hooked. Everything, from our understanding of the buyer’s journey to how we planned our client’s marketing strategies, got better.
Storybrand uses a story-driven approach to help businesses clarify their messaging. It places the customer, not the company, at the center of everything.
Learning that framework and using it with our customers changed how we deliver:
- website design
- brandscripts and content development
- landing pages and funnel design
- paid advertising copy
- email nurture sequences
- marketing blasts
- content offers
- brand positioning
- calls to action
Most organizations are stuck doing things the old way. They approach website design with themselves in mind instead of their customer. That’s why so many spend so much on website design yet see very little return on their investment.
Customers don’t really care about your brand beyond how it can help them solve their problems. That’s why they visit your company’s website.
Yet we so many corporate websites that function more like an advertisement for the business than a solution center for the customer. It’s ego-centric marketing, and it’s a turnoff.
Clarifying your marketing message from the perspective of your customer first, then building your website, allows you to position your brand as the trusted guide and frees you to prove how your solutions help your customers get what they want.
4. Agree on a definition of success
When we onboard new inbound marketing clients, one of our first questions is “what does success look like?”
We’re not trying to be difficult or cheeky. We really need to know. Otherwise, we’ll never know if our digital strategies made any tangible difference.
Often, clients tell us they’ve never thought about it. They’ve never considered outcomes. Or their old success metric was “good looking web design.”
What does that mean?
Look, we’re the first to say that design is essential. We’re creatives first. But we also know it’s subjective. What one person considers tasteful, another won’t.
That’s why you need S.M.A.R.T. goals.
The “SMART” acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. These 5 elements produce “goals.” Without them, you’re left with only wishes.
For example, telling a marketing agency “you want your new business site design to pop!” is not a smart goal. A designer may get it, but you’ll have no way of measuring whether you succeeded.
Instead, a S.M.A.R.T. goal should be, “I want to refresh our corporate website to match new brand design and contribute 4 monthly qualified marketing leads by year’s end.”
That’s a goal with a binary outcome. Either you hit it or you don’t.
There’s no middle ground.
So long as the goal is realistic, i.e., not too lofty, you now have something to measure results by.
Taking your next steps
Before you bring out the torches and pitchforks and accuse me of hating on graphic design and UI/UX design, know we love it. We rooted our agency in the creative space.
It’s why we call ourselves a creative inbound marketing agency. And creative web design is where we first cut our teeth.
We’ve just seen enough to know what works, and what doesn’t. What leads to success and what ends in tragic failure.
We don’t want you to fail.
To prevent failure in your business, we combined all four strategic steps into an onboarding process called The Lab. It’s a fun, strategic online marketing workshop to help you clarify your message, create goals, and organize an action plan that delivers results.
Whether you join us for The Lab or try yourself, doing these 4 things before investing in a new business website will significantly increase your odds of success.
Isn’t that the goal?