When visiting another company’s Website, you can be critical about how it’s designed or how “unfriendly” it is to maneuver. But, have you taken a really hard look at your own Website lately? What does it say to you?
More importantly, what might it be saying to visitors? Does it say, “WOW...high-tech...professional...thought-provoking...informative...makes you want to stay there?”
OR, is its message, “Out-dated...lack-luster...Where’s the beef?...NEXT!”
Your Website can be the most powerful tool
—most powerful SYSTEM—
for MARKETING your business!
It is likely THE most important source of information about WHO and WHAT you are—the products and services you offer and your company’s emphasis on quality, integrity, reliability and excellence.
A couple years ago, I took a long hard look at our Website
and—after the cheers and “It’s-about-time!” responses from just about everyone I know had subsided—we undertook the process of re-skinning our site. The target date for the relaunch was set for just three months later.Yes, we turned to our systems to come up with a plan!
For us, that meant creating a DETAILED CHECKLIST that included every facet of the project to ensure that our use of time, personnel and resources was kept to a low roar, and that nothing was overlooked. The Reconstruction Team
By the time we committed to rebuilding the site, I had a pretty good idea of who and what skills would be needed to put our best face—our brand—out there for all the world to see.
I highly recommend finding people inside and outside of your organization who are strongly motivated by your product(s) or message—people who are creative, artistic, idea-driven, innovative and having a fair amount of computer-savvy. Great, if you already have some staff members who are skilled in graphic design and copy writing!
We were able to bring in three senior marketing students from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who gave us some excellent marketing suggestions for the site, as well as some tips on the very latest technologies.
Our own cost was kept to a minimum by using a cohesive in-house team, which coordinated with certain outside help, and our programmer. The project that I had dreaded would become a long and tedious undertaking actually turned out to be something of an adventure. Old Website Evaluation
As we began, I asked each team member to evaluate (scrutinize
) the existing Website—one page, section, item, menu, graphic, hyperlink, color, Flash element, word, fact, etc. at a time—to determine what needed to be updated, edited, added, enhanced or eliminated.
Questions we asked ourselves about our Website:
- Does it exactly represent what our business, product, message is about?
- Is it interesting enough to help us in “selling” our product or message?
- Is it visually eye-catching?
- Is it long on flash, but short on informative content?
- Does it need more flash?
- Is the content provocative enough to hold a visitor’s attention?
- Is it educational?
- Is it easy to navigate—“friendly?”
- Is it technically on par with other Websites?
- Does it convey to our visitors how important they are to our business?
- Is the copy written in concise, well-worded text—no typos?
- Is the information honest, current, easy to access?
New Site Planning
Next, we brought all our ideas together to determine the visual and verbal statement we wanted to make with the NEW site—what elements to include that would take it to the next level. We discovered that, using some fairly simple techniques, a Website can be turned into an amazing tool.New Site Checklist
Once we had a plan and a target completion date, we developed a detailed checklist of all the steps in the process, including the elements in design and content of the new site. We would check off each item as it was completed.
We mapped out the entire process of rebuilding, including conceptualizing the look and message of the new site and determining who would lead in accomplishing the various tasks to bring it all together. By the time it would go live, we would check and recheck, proof and re-proof, think and rethink every detail of our new Website—the marketing tool
that would present our brand to visitors.
The entire project was accomplished using a Control Checklist. Nothing was done haphazardly, nothing left to chance, and nothing forgotten. Each member of our team had a say in the final design and copy, and the results were a unanimous, “Yesss!!”
On Feb. 15, 2010, we were excited and proud to see our new Website go online. Of course, we’re all about continual improvement, so we appreciate visitor comments, at any point.
We hope the MESSAGE we systematically
crafted into our site is clear and beneficial to other businesses, our staff, our vendors and especially our customers.
Great systems work
—even when re-skinning your Website!