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A great website development process is something that will benefit your business for years to come; A great website development process will mean that your website starts out life as a solid platform on which future improvements will only grow its power.
Let’s start with the obvious benefits: a thoughtful, well planned website will help your marketing and sales efforts by presenting prospects with all the information they need in a way that is easily accessible.
By thinking carefully during the website development process, you may well be able to build in further benefits:
An often overlooked benefit of a great website arising from a great website development process is the fact that it can really help your team understand your brand and how you speak about yourselves. In short it can help unify a team and get them moving in the right direction.
Is very tempting to consider website development as a one off. Companies with this mindset forget about their website for years between periods of sharp activity. A business with this mindset will not be as successful with their website as they should be.
Companies that view website development as a weekly, even daily, ongoing process find huge success online. Of course tech giants such as Facebook Amazon or even Trainline.com or moneysupermarket.com or have hundreds of developers, strategists and testers working day and night on updating and improving their websites.
This article is about website development and it is important that your website in this phase is made as good as possible because changing fundamentals such as user journeys is very difficult later. That said, it is vital that you have the attitude that your website will never be finished and you will always be looking at ways to improve it.
When considering a website development project it is important to gather everything you know to start with. So what might this data include?
Such as Hotjar and Lucky Orange can help you understand how people are interacting with each page on your site by showing you their cursor movement – and almost a little creepily but obviously also shows where their eyes are travelling.
Google Analytics allows you to observe people’s movements from page to page on your site. You will understand which pages cause people to leave your site completely and which pages attract them and make them want to move through your site. You will almost certainly be surprised by which pages people tend to land on on your site- clue: it’s probably not your homepage! This is clearly valuable for any website development.
If you have a sales team, ask them what people say about the website or if prospects are continuously calling up to ask about a certain piece of information then it needs to be on your website.
It is quite likely that your team spends a lot of time on your website and so their opinion is important during website development. Be careful here though because they will become familiar with it and what may be a problem to find for a new visitor might be something that they have learnt to cope with.
It may well be a good idea to employ Professional website testers from a company such as User Feel during website development. This kind of testing is available in in a range of prices and data but you’re a very busy important website it can provide invaluable insight
Hubspot offer some good insights on the technical aspects of website development in their highly useful blog here. Wordstream have great examples here and if you like StoryBrand as a comms framework then why not have a look at these examples.
At the heart of any good website development process is your site visitor. Is incredibly easy to forget about them as the process continues and you get absorbed into the detail – but try to avoid this at all costs – the site visitor is the important factor here.
If you have personas drawn up to represent your target audience with a photo and a name – it will help make the real in your mind because they are surely real when they are on your website. Along With their name their worries business suite
Fred is a 49 year old small business owner who needs to buy insurance for his company. He is very busy and research tells us that he doesn’t understand what ‘public liability’ insurance is and whether or not he should include legal cost cover.
From this we can begin to paint a picture of a user journey for Fred. He’s busy so his experience on our site must be simple and intuitive. On the way we must make sure we explain what public liability insurance is and we must also help him decide whether or not legal cost cover is right for him. This may be done in a table or even an interactive decision tree.
See more on personas in our article about digital marketing here
You will not be able to make out every single possible journey through your website but it’s likely that you want to map out the most common ones. Experience UX have lots of useful information that relates to website development
Be careful to serve all the information someone will need on that journey without unnecessary duplication that might waste their time. Equally don’t assume people will absorb every piece of information on each page.
We now have all our data and we have created some basic user journeys. Let’s then finish our list of everything we need to know:
Below you will see a small part of the planning process and work sharing with clients. We share things like a sitemap and design concepts so they they have complete visibility as the website development process moves forwards.
Part of our Monday.com planning board for a website development process.
Making your web content truly powerful and engaging can make the difference between a site that performs really well and delivers business vs a site that simply doesn’t deliver.
‘They Ask You Answer’ by Marcus Sheridan is a must-read before you begin your website development journey. It will help you understand precisely what content is needed and how it should be structured.
Getting larger companies working around the principles in the book can be tricky and here at The Ambitions Agency we have a system for helping you. Get in touch to find out more or see our page here.
You should never expect website developers to understand your target audience, user journeys etc. so it is up to you to provide a sitemap that they will then build. You may well do this in conjunction with your designer and UX expert if you have one. We are lucky to have both in one lovely person called Karen here at The Ambitions Agency
Writing for a website is not the same as any other form of writing. An experienced professional can turn your basic text into something that is quick, simple and engaging for website visitors and it is always worth paying for this service.
All costs try to avoid using stock photography – it looks cheap, undermines your authority and there is a great risk that your competitors may use the same photos.
Commission your own photography that will reflect and amplify your business and your brand. This is truly impossible then you can commission a designer to create an illustrative Style of graphics that will be unique to your business. naturally you can mix the two
The exciting part of website development is one you first see a designer’s concept for how your site could look. Even here at a design agency we never tire of seeing weeks of planning come to life as a beautiful design. At this stage you should not be considering the fine details of particular words – just the overall look and feel which is so important when people initially land on your page.
People will judge your site in less than half a second when they land and in this moment design is everything so get the very best designer you can afford.
While the website is being built, the build team will want your input and approval page by page. Even the best website development planning process will leave some questions unanswered and now is the time to solve them. As a business owner or marketing leader it is vital that you’re highly engaged throughout this process.
a website designer at work building a website at The Ambitions Agency
Website development is normally done on a private server so it can be used as a website but is not in the public domain. Take this time to ensure that the site works perfectly and that your key user the journey is smooth, natural and intuitive.
Once your site is live it is a very good idea to do all these tests again and indeed carry on doing them overtime – Things can break and a broken contact form that costs you a lead is just not worth risking. Schedule regular test of all the vital functions.
A great website will constantly change in line with changes in the market and your learning from tools such as Google Analytics. Here at The Ambition Agency We constantly review the performance of our own website and that of our clients.
It is a truly fascinating process and it is so satisfying to take a page that is performing badly and fixing it. People will be very clear: if they dislike a page they will not spend time on it and may even leave your site at that point. Thai data provides a daily insight into performance and should be acted upon.
This process must continue and is a good reason why finding the right website development partner is so important – it’;s not just a one off but a relationship that will to some degree determine the success of your business.
At the Ambitions Agency we have been developing websites for many years. Our focus is one building a site that is perfect for your brand and your visitors but also for Google’s requirements.
The first step in any web development process is for you to understand precisely which pages your site will need and how much you will invest to build and optimise it.
We offer a free service in which we work through these elements. You obtain a document which you can use to get multiple quotes for your website development..
Simply contact us today to get your website scope and cost.