Moving to your new small business website, step one

movingIn the next few weeks, you will see a new I am excited, I am nervous, and I am frantically trying to keep balls from dropping on the ground as I work on various aspects of the new website. Since I do this every day with small business clients this process should be easy for me to execute for my own small business, right? I wish.  The good news is that going through this has given me the opportunity to see a small business website transition from the client side.  What better way to tell you about that then a three part series on getting ready to launch a new small business website?  In this first blog, we will discuss the first steps, the foundational steps that set you on the path.  The second blog, to be posted next week, will discuss the project portion of the website build process.  In the final post in the series, later in July, we will discuss the final steps for a small business just about to launch a website.

Making the decision

How do you know it is time for a new website? The details of every small business’s decision is different but most typically it comes down to a feeling that the current website just no longer fits the needs of the organization. Perhaps your current site has an out of date design, perhaps it doesn’t have a Content Management System (CMS) that you or your staff can utilize to keep it up to date.

Analyzing the pain points

Before most truly successful small business website projects take place, the business has spent time analyzing the pain points of their current website. This takes all sorts of forms. Voiced opinions are the easiest to obtain, but certainly not the only source of this information.  What are your customers consistently calling to find out that could easily be found on a website? A great way to see what a client is seeing is to literally sit down with her and watch her try and find something on your site.

Looking at the analytics

Is there any web decision that your analytics aren’t helpful in making? Not that I have found yet. A solid analytics program, such as Google Analytics will tell you what pages on your website visitors frequent and which they ignore, which pages are there entry point to your website and which pages you lose them on. In addition, you can learn what kind of devices they visit your website using and where they are coming from (both geographically and on the world wide web.)  This can be a treasure trove for a small business making decisions about their new website!

Figuring out the who

So who is going to do the work? For most small businesses, this is a two part question. Who within your organization will manage the work on your side, getting new content written, approving work product by the outside vendor, etc?  AND, who will be building and designing the website for us?  The first of the two questions is typically pretty easy to answer since there is likely only one (or possibly two) people in a relevant role. The second is tougher. I would like to think that everyone just hires Spring Insight to create their new website but that isn’t (yet) the case. I can (and likely will) do a whole blog post on how to select a great partner for creating a website.  In the meantime though, some foundational questions, what is their approach? What website platform do they use to create website? How does their pricing align with your budget? What kind of work have they done in the past? What do their clients say? Quick self promotion, if you are going through this process, let’s discuss.

Next week, doing the work.  (Now back to doing some of my own.)

Image above used via the Creative Commons license is by Flickr user TheMuuj