Is your business website in need of a redesign? Get the most out of the process
By mindZplay Solutions Staff
Goals, graphics and content
By mindZplay Solutions Staff
When updating an existing website, most people look at the style and layout of their competitors’ websites and then rush off to a website designer with several examples in hand, asking if the designer can make their website look similar.
Finding examples of sites and jotting down the parts you like most and least can be helpful at the start, but remember that cosmetic changes may not solve all the problems that motivated you to update your website in the first place. Remember, a website designer knows about building websites of all shapes and sizes BUT they do not know your business – what modalities you offer, what your qualifications are, or the common concerns of your clients.
Before you contact a designer, there are a few important things you should think about: your site’s content, the goals you have for your site, and your vision for the site’s aesthetics.
With your examples in hand, next, think about what the goals are for your website. For example, it is important to identify any areas of your website you’d like to drive more traffic to. This is also a good time to consider your branding. Are there specific colours that represent your clinic’s identity, or a logo associated with your business that you want to incorporate into your website? Make a note to communicate this to your designer, as it will help to define the aesthetic.
Next, you should focus on the page content. This is not a complicated step, but it may take some time. Begin by opening both your own website and your examples. (Refer to the notes you previously wrote down about your likes/dislikes for each example.)
Let’s start with the flashy stuff: Graphics, images, and video. If you said that you like a particular site because it has more images, stop for a moment, and think: What purpose do the images serve?
Your designer can easily secure decorative imagery for you. However, if you are wanting to include photos specific to your clinic – to introduce your practitioners, images of your clinic space, or possibly even a video tour; consider that these elements need to come from somewhere. Are you comfortable taking the photos and video yourself, or will you need to hire a photographer or videographer to do this for you? Prepare a plan for whatever type of visual content you will need. You will want the background of any practitioner profile photos to be similar. If you have a clinic uniform, everyone should be wearing it. If not, you should still make sure everyone is following roughly the same dress code, so they do not clash. These small details are important to ensure the result looks professional.
Words are often the last thing people think about when updating their website, but written content is critical. Without accurate, up-to-date information, no one will know what your business is or where to find you. Content is important both to your search engine ranking and to your overall website performance.
When working with a website designer you must be prepared to provide them with the written content. Your designer may offer to review your content and provide general advice. For example, they can point out keyword problems in your written content that might affect your position in search engines. However, while they can help to spot obvious holes like inconsistent keywords or missing contact information, they only know as much about your business as you can tell them, and they can’t be expected to do the writing for you.
Written content is the one area where you need to be ready to hold up your end of the redesign process. Images are negotiable, but without words, your page has no meaning. Take a moment and just read through your website and compare it to your competitors. How is their information organized? If you were using a similar layout, what content would you put in each space? Create a simple word document, copy in your current content one page at a time, then review and edit until you are happy with it. You don’t need to add fancy headers to your document, just do the writing – your designer will make it pretty.
Don’t stop at reviewing your existing content, either. Take a look at what you have and ask yourself: Is anything missing? Do you have enough information about your services, your rates, your policies? If you need additional pages, consider writing those up now – the redesign will go smoother and the result will be better if all the pieces are available at the start. If possible, try to have your written content completed before you even approach a designer.
Baking a dessert works better when you have both a recipe and an inventory of your available ingredients before you start. Much as a beautiful cake is not necessarily a delicious cake, aesthetics alone does not make a successful website.
You must know what your goals are, your branding requirements, and have good content to make a great website. By spending time upfront with the content of your website, you can understand what resources you will need to communicate to your designer. This will save you time and ensure that the resulting website will be one that you love.
MINDZPLAY SOLUTIONS INC. a provider of massage therapy websites and practice management solutions. To learn more, visit massagemanedger.com..