As your online business grows and your customers become more sophisticated in their use of online technology and services, you’ll probably find yourself needing to upgrade or even completely replace your website. If your site is not serving your customers, it’s not serving your business. Even when you’re clear about your site’s goals there are still some common traps that are very easy to fall into. Spare yourself some pain by keeping these four key things in mind – from planning to completion and beyond.
It’s all too easy to start thinking about your new website by thinking about your current website. Free your business
When planning your new site, your focus should be what you want the site to achieve for your business. Step away from your current site and spend some time taking a fresh look at what triggers your customers to purchase, and what keeps them coming back multiple times to purchase from you.
Top tips for success
- The technology (web platform, content management system and other integrated systems) should serve your goals. Start with goals and then find the technology that works. Not the other way around.
- Work with web development experts who understand that your website is a business development tool and sales channel. If you have a choice of vendors, go with the ones who can demonstrate solid experience helping other businesses grow.
‘Signed off’ doesn’t mean ‘finished’
A new website development can be unnecessarily stressful, if you’re worried about deviations from a signed off design or requirements. In fact you can be sure that a website that aims to meet your business goals is likely to need tweaks and changes during the project. You need to stay alert and ensure you’re working with an expert team that is prepared to act transparently and keep your goals in mind.
Tips to keep your website on track
- Set yourself a realistic budget for the development work, and allow for adjustments to scope and requirements that come up along the way.
- Choose a vendor who is able to provide transparent project management and communications. Ideally, you’ll want to work with a team who are experts in the Atlassian suite of products (Jira, Confluence, Jira Agile, Stash, Bamboo, Crowd, Crucible and HipChat) – a toolset that streamlines and enhances projects by helping teams collaborate.
Make it easy to get great content onto your site
Okay, so that tired old phrase ‘Content is King’ may seem like a cliché, but regardless of how you say it, the content on your website will play an important role in reaching your site’s business goals. Whether your focus is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or conversion, you’ll need targeted content that can be easily updated, and optimised. As you monitor and respond to your site’s visitor statistics, the right CMS eases the way for responsive updates and continuous improvement of your website. In short, the right CMS lets your content team help you maximise the return on your investment.
Tips to make your content right on day one
- Work with a web development vendor who is CMS-agnostic. If you’re locked into a CMS because that’s your vendor’s area of specialisation, you might not be getting the best website for your business.
- As you build the new website, get your content team involved in requirements and design, so that when it comes to getting ready for go live with migration of existing content or creation of new content, they’re already familiar with new functionality.
- With a new website design and possibly a new focus, your content needs are likely to be different too. Ensure your content strategy is updated in line with your new website, and you’ll be ready and running at launch.
Think about tomorrow
Because your website upgrade will run as a project – starting with a planning phase and finishing with a launch – it may be easy to focus too much on a go-live date and forget to think beyond, into your site’s next phase of ‘business as usual’.
If your business goals include growth, your website will need to accommodate that growth. You may need to expand your site and add functionality, features or integrations in the future, perhaps quite soon after you launch. Time for an eCommerce upgrade.
Changes in technology are inevitable. Your eCommerce website is likely to include integrations with inventory, billing, logistics and other systems, which may need to be upgraded at different times. Choose web partners who can build a site that allows seamless upgrades of individual components as required, without impacting the overall functionality of your site.
Top tips to future-proof your new website
- From the early stages of the project, work with eCommerce experts who are willing to help you develop a roadmap of features and improvements for future development of your site.
- Work with web experts who find clever ways of integrating features without modifying the core code of your platform, and who think strategically as they build.
A website upgrade is equal parts exciting and stressful. You’ll be opening up new opportunities for growth, and you’re also making a serious investment, with risks and costs that may seem daunting.
Smooth the way by partnering with a team of web development experts who will focus on your business goals and keep the future in mind.