So you’re looking at improving your website, possibly even completely redesigning it? Where the heck should you start?
There are so many moving parts on a website, it can be difficult to know where to begin or even how to begin planning out your strategy.
This article should help you distill down the first things you need to do in order to tackle improving or revamping the strategy of your website.
Editor’s Note: This article is a part of our website strategy series.
Before we dive into what you need in your website strategy, you may want to check out the introductory blogs in this series: The Website 6: Key characteristics of the perfect inbound website (or read the full Website strategy guide).
1. Your 3 most important user paths
The absolute first order of business when developing your website strategy is to determine the three primary things you want people to do on your website.
If you try to skip forward to any of the other steps without first doing this, you’ll create a strategy that is disjointed — or build a user journey that is confusing.
Start first by identifying no more than three of the most important actions you want people to take on your website.
Keep in mind that these three things should all be in the service of your greater goals for the website.
For instance, if your goal is to generate sales from your website, at your top three actions should all be steps in the process toward getting someone in the door as a customer.
Now for each of these, back up and identify the different pathways a person might take to end up in that place.
For instance, if my goal is getting users to request a demo for software, I might look at the ways that they’d ideally end up in a place where they are ready to request that demo. One such path might be:
Recognize that it takes me too much time to schedule employees for my business
Research the problem
Find helpful information about how to schedule employees more effectively and efficiently
Learn about a product that can help me do it more easily
Read about how that product applies to my unique situation
Read about how the product works, and the most important features
Figure out how much the product costs once I think the features are a good fit
Watch a short video demo of the most important product features
Request a live demo with a sales person
You might have multiple pathways to get to the same endpoint (which is why listing out your steps is so important), but putting in some deep thought as to what a real buyer would go through and, most importantly, what they would want to see at each step, will give you a lot of insight into how to build your website strategy to support that journey.
2. A vision for site structure
One of the absolute most important items you will need in your strategy for a website that produces results is a plan for your website structure.
Your goal will be to create a structure which allows users to move as quickly and easily as possible to complete the three primary things you identified in the previous step.
Website strategy almost always begins here, as it should. You need to start with a map for how someone will navigate the pages of your website in order to know which pages to even create. A good strategy for website structure should help you see a couple things:
How your navigation menu (or menus) will work
The structure and organization of information in your website
Pages you need to create that may not be represented in your navigation
What types of pages you need
What will be in your footer
Your website structure documentation will outline a combination of pages you want to create, balanced with pages that may already exist on your website. It is your opportunity to take stock of what you have and what works well, and layer in your plans for what new pages you need.
Some of the most important page types to consider when building out your site structure are:
Home page (of course!)
Your product or service pages describe an individual product or service you offer
Product or service listing pages help a user understand an overall category or grouping of products or services and help them to determine which is the right fit for them
Pricing pages break down pricing for your products or services (You may have just one page that explains it all, a page for each product or service, or this may very well be included on your individual product pages)
Comparison pages help people compare your brand, your services or products to other alternative options that exist
Self-identification pages exist for a single unique type of visitor to get all the information that applies to them (You should absolutely make sure you have incorporated some method for self identification into your site structure)
A learning center allows a user to filter through and find helpful or educational content you’ve created
Bottom of the funnel offer pages exist primarily to convert visitors into known contacts and allow them to initiate the sales process
Self configuration tools help users narrow options or get customized recommendations
There are a ton of different page types you may have in addition to those listed above, but these are some of the most essential, and they should get your creative juices flowing.
3. A vision for your pages
Once you’ve determined the types of pages you need, it is time to think about the kind of information that goes on those pages.
Again, you’ll lean heavily on the user pathways you created for your primary goals in the first step.
On each page, you’ll want to think through what information a user will want to learn on that particular page, what their next step should be, and how to move them to that step.
Here you’ll focus on reducing noise, and helping make the next step in the path as clear as possible to the user. To decide what to put on each page, ask yourself the following questions:
How did the user end up on this page?
Why did they choose to come to this page?
Where should they be going next?
What information do they need in order to be comfortable taking the next step?
How can I make that next step as clear as possible for them?
With these questions you should be able to get a pretty good idea of what kinds of information should live on the page, what calls-to-action you should feature, and how to keep the user moving through their journey.
Page strategies can take a lot of different forms. They could be simple notes of the different sections you want on each page or they could be a sketch of the page if you are more visual.
4. A video plan
As we have mentioned many times before, one of the keys to your website’s success is video. It isn’t a “nice to have.” These days, it is an “absolute must.” So treat it that way.
Make sure you have specifically outlined a strategy for what videos you need to create for your website and what pages those videos will live on.
We’ve talked ad-infinitum about The Selling 7 videos in the past, but here’s a quick recap to help you prepare your strategy.
The Selling 7 are the seven types of videos guaranteed to generate great results. Each of these videos has a place in your digital strategy beyond just your website. But, at minimum, these seven types of videos should be making an appearance on your website.
What they are: 80% videos are those that answer the most common questions all of your prospects ask
Where to use them: great on FAQ pages or “how it works” types of pages
Employee bio videos
What they are: short videos where your team speaks directly to the camera and introduces themselves
Where to use them: included on team or employee bio pages
Product/service page videos
What they are: videos describing your product or service, the pains it relieves, and the benefits it provides
Where to use them: you should have a product/service style video on every product or service page
Landing page videos
What they are: videos to use on pages where you are asking visitors to fill out a form to help increase conversion on those forms
Where to use them: you should have a landing page video on every page where you are asking someone to fill out a form or take the next step
What they are: videos describing your pricing or how much a typical purchase might cost
Where to use them: great for pricing pages
Social proof/testimonial videos
What they are: videos depicting a successful customer journey from beginning to end
Where to use them: useful in a variety of places, but particularly impactful when discussed on the page about the product or service the customer is discussing
The “claims we make” videos
What it is: videos to demonstrate the claims you make as a business that set you apart from the competition
Where to use it: commonly shown on the home page and/or about pages
5. Technical setup and launch plan
This is particularly important if you are redesigning your website.
You should go through all of the previous steps in your strategy and identify any important functionality needs to accomplish the items in your strategy.
Some common things that come up are:
Integrations between tools
Support for e-commerce
Interactive functionality (e.g. clickable maps, self configuration tools)
Forms and contact collection
Subscription and email follow-up
Video hosting platforms and tools
You may need the help of someone a bit more technical to recognize all of these items or identify areas of your strategy that would require them.
It is important to collect all of the functionality needs you have (or potential desired future functionality) and determine the best platform to manage your website that allows for those things.
This is one of the most important, and often overlooked, steps in the process. Many people try to do this first or otherwise separate from the rest of the strategy.
Don’t make that mistake. Your strategy and the technology you need to support it are intertwined. The decision must be made together.
Selecting technology without a strategy means you will likely pick something that will not allow you to do the things you need (or at minimum make it very hard to accomplish some of your goals).
Building a strategy without thinking of technology means you’ll likely end up with a laundry list of things you simply can’t execute without spending more on tools, or using them completely wrong.
There are so many things to think about when building your website strategy, so don’t be stressed out if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed.
If you keep in mind one simple guiding light, it will help you make the right decisions at each stage in the process. It all boils down to one simple phrase:
WWTBW: What would the buyer want?
Stop making decisions based on what the business wants from its website and start thinking about what you would want as a buyer.
Think about the last time you visited a website as a buyer. What did you want? Use that perspective for everything you do and you will be golden.
Keep in mind your website is never done, and you should constantly be adding new items to your strategy, but starting with the right foundation will make it infinitely easier.
Some other blogs in this series:
The Website 6: Key characteristics of the perfect inbound website
What are self-configuration tools and why do you need them on your website?
How to plan a killer pricing page (no matter how ‘custom’ your product or service)
Building self-identification pathways on your website
Read more: impactbnd.com