Launching a new website for your small business or non-profit can be stressful. Whether the new site is a redesign of your existing website or a completely new website, there are a lot of decisions to make. In no particular order, these decisions include:
- Logo: Do you want a new logo for your new website? How will this affect your branding in other places (i.e. signs, brochures, business cards, stationary, digital displays in your office, etc.)?
- Color Scheme: Any competent designer can help you brand your website effectively by using an appropriate color scheme, but what do you want this color scheme to communicate? Freshness? Innovation? Friendliness? Intelligence? What are the central attributes of your brand and what color scheme best conveys them?
- Features: What do you want visitors to your website to do when they get there? Sign up for a newsletter? Check out your latest events? Contact you through a lead form? Browse products? Make purchases? Track or view previous orders?
- Sustainability: Who within your organization can maintain your new website? Or do you need to outsource all maintenance to a web design agency?
These are just some of the questions you should consider before launching a new website. To help you begin to answer them for your small business or non-profit, below are 3 tips for doing so.
But Wait, Do I For Sure Need a (New) Website?
Of course, the answer to this question is completely up to you. To answer it, you need to take into consideration your business goals, your budget, and several other factors. If the question is–“do you need a website at all?”–, however: the answer is pictured above.
If you need more convincing, consider the following statistics before launching a website:
- There are currently 230 million digital buyers in the US alone
- E-commerce sales are growing 8-12% per year
- 51% of people shop online using a mobile device
Tip #1: Think of Your Website as an Advertisement, Not a Brochure
The first thing to consider when launching a website is the relative size of the site you want. With Content Management Systems (CMSs) like WordPress, Joomla!, and Magento, it’s very easy to build a relatively large website. The question, however, is: do you need a very large site?
Many of our clients begin by asking us to build a website that represents every piece of information about their organization that anyone might want to know about. This idea of a “brochure website” that users will read through extensively is the wrong way to go, however. Modern website users don’t want to read lengthy text, complicated explanations, or internal documents like charters or by-laws. They want quick, simple, actionable content that helps them accomplish the tasks they’re there to accomplish. You should think of your website as an advertisement, rather than a brochure. Click To Tweet
Before launching a new website, think about the tasks users should be able to accomplish on your website. Then build your site around those actions and consider whether any additional features or content you want to add will either highlight or detract from those actions.
Tip #2: If You Don’t Trust Your Web Designer to Brand Your Website, Look Elsewhere
The next thing you should think about when launching a new website is branding. As people who run a digital marketing agency, we see badly-branded websites all the time. Branding is different than functionality. Some of the most easy-to-use websites are also the most poorly branded and vice versa.
Branding is also more than just the look and feel of your website. As John Williams has defined a brand strategy:
Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.
So, there’s a lot more to branding than just a color scheme or a logo. It’s really the whole effect of your brand on its target audience.
The thing to consider carefully is that not all web designers are branding experts. You may have a great, competent web designer, but they may not be able to advise you as to how to build a website that is emblematic of your business or non-profit. For that, you need a brand specialist, such as a digital marketer or business development specialist.
Just remember: it’s perfectly okay to enlist the help of such a specialist to help you and your web designer with branding. Or, of course, you can look for a digital agency that can do both web design and branding.
Thing #3: Negotiate Maintenance Ahead of Time
The final thing you should consider when launching a new website is how much time, energy, and knowledge you are willing to put toward maintaining your website. Even if you go the CMS route, your website will need to be regularly updated, not only with fresh content, but also to ensure you’re running the current version of WordPress, Joomla!, Magento, etc.
If you’re not sure how to do this yourself, you’ll either need to learn or you’ll need to get whoever designed your website to do the work for you. Typically web design agencies have maintenance contracts that provide you with basic maintenance services such as updating content, keeping technologies updated, and making other minor changes. You can also pay your web designer to train you how to make these changes.
The point is: you don’t want to launch your website and then assume it’ll continue to be okay on its own. Websites, like gardens, need care and feeding in order to grow.
Your Website is the Front Page of Your Organization
If we had a dollar for every small business or non-profit website we’d visited that displays outdated content, broken links, or broken images, we wouldn’t need to run a digital marketing agency. Many small business owners and non-profit managers fail to realize that your website is often the first impression people get of your organization. Whether you’re seeking customers or donors, an ineffective website will chase away more business than it will attract.