Let’s face it, your web site design has a certain shelf life, and the time comes when even the most reticent business owners realize their site is due for a make-over. Being a visual design fanatic, graphic designer and photographer I sympathize with clients who think they have a design problem. Just recently a prospect stated something I hear a lot:
“My biggest problem has always been the design of things”
I think this comes from intuitively recognizing that “there is something wrong or missing” from their site, but failing to realize exactly what it might be. And so the focus falls on “design”, the “look and feel”, the “cool factor”, the latest font choices, video backgrounds and sliders. Thoughts turn to “mobile”, “responsive”, “more modern”.
UX Design Problems Are Hard to Spot At First Glance
Marketers and app developers have embraced user experience as being a fundamental aspect of modern design. But for the average small business owner, blogger, solopreneur and for most lay people, UX is a difficult and mysterious concept to come to grips with, and the lack of a good user experience is hard to spot.
This means that very often site re-designs are based on visual decisions and look and feel only, ignoring the fundamentals of user behavior, research, and customer centric thinking. This also implies little research and planning.
But Digital Strategy Gaps Are Even Harder To Spot
For me, the coolest vanity site out there is useless (or at best a hobby only) if it fails to attract and convert visitors into leads. Or fails to engage consumers of our content. Visitors will come, say “wow this is cool”, and then leave, unless we have a way to capture them. Like being on a blind date with someone beautiful, without ever asking for a name. Now there’s a design problem for you.
Some examples of missed opportunities
We’ve seen carefully crafted corporate site re-designs launch, with no content other than myopic product catalogs, services and company history, all organized by internal departments, and navigable only by the initiated. Why was the site not converting?
Because that’s called an intranet.
So often the language is that of a first person narrative, it’s all me, me, me, or we, we, we.
Sorry, how are you helping your site visitors?
We see sites that advertise their products and services by shouting at a demographic, rather than starting to engage with their prospects.
If you want to start a conversation, don’t shout.
And often we see thoughtful and entertaining blog articles, marooned and hidden away in some far corner of a site without linking to other valuable pages, and without any accessible opt-ins chance to grow email lists for the content owners. Or we’ve seen famous authors book launch site giving away free preview chapters of their book, without a sign up form asking for an email in exchange. I get it, you’re being modest and are providing value, but trust me, it’s OK to have an occasional opt-in asking for a name and email address.
There is such a thing as being too humble.
So the question for me is always one of customer centricity: Who do you place at the center of your site’s experience? Yourself or your visitors?
So what should we focus on when considering a site re-design?
Let us adopt our customer’s point of view. What is our value proposition to them? How can we inform, delight and offer relevant content and experiences to them?
1.) Awareness: Start by realizing the opportunity for re-invention
It starts with simply realizing that each time a web site is re-designed, it is a huge strategic opportunity to re-invent not only the site, but also the way it contributes to your underlying business model.
2.) Education: Why and how content marketing works
Initially, spend more time researching. In my experience, most web design projects benefit from an 80/20 rule: 80% planning, 20% execution. Educate yourself about why content marketing and an inbound approach work so well for most companies that practice it. Here some quick stats and info to understand the opportunity better…
3.) Conversion: Going Inbound
There is no better way to start customer centric thinking than by implementing an inbound content strategy. It will help develop the muscle for customer centric philosophy and language. It will lead not only to a deeper understanding of your site visitors, but also to a better relationship with your prospects.
4.) Marketing Automation: The difference
For small businesses and solopreneurs, the potential of marketing automation cannot be overstated. Once accessible only to relatively large organizations and corporates, marketing automation platforms are now extremely affordable, and an excellent way to design and run sophisticated inbound content campaigns.
5.) Re-Frame the Opportunity: Converting visitors into prospects, prospects into leads
A re-design project is an ideal place to start, because it can provide you with a re-frame: Your site’s job is to convert site visitors into leads, by providing valuable content to your readership in exchange for contact info and email addresses.
Your site can become the central hub of a customer centric overall digital marketing strategy that supports your business goals (and reflects your brand of course).