John doesn’t have time to be the webmaster; he’s busy working with clients. We can’t afford to spend much on outsiders, but the website needs regular updating. When a prospect looks at the website I want them to see the right things. What should we do?
Thoughts of the Day: Make sure you have a good structure. Keep it simple. Have an overall plan of what you want to accomplish. Lay out a schedule. Know what you’re good at, and where you need help.
Evaluate your website overall. Is it consistent? Can you add content easily? Is there a clean look and feel? If you’re not sure, spend a little money, get a professional evaluation. It’s liking having a good foundation for a house – so much easier to expand and remodel.
Start with spring cleaning! There’s probably old content on your website that could be deleted or updated. Streamline!
Invite readers to explore, but don’t try to put all the answers out there. Leave visitors with questions, so they have a reason to contact you. Find the balance between enough information to “hook” visitor, and not so much that they go away knowing everything they need to know, having no need to get in touch with your company.
Look critically at the way you display content on the website. Do you have the right concepts? Would a picture reduce the number of words you need? What’s the point you’re trying to get across – and how clear is that point?
Ask your customers and prospects what they think of the website. Listen carefully. Do they quickly identify with the message? Can they easily find what they need? Are they likely to contact you as a result of a website visit?
It’s impossible to update a website all at once. One of the mistakes I’ve often made is making a small project into a big one. Be willing to make incremental progress with the website. After all, a website is always a work in progress, it’s never done.
Make a list of the changes you’d like to make to the website. Identify priorities and group by type. Work on one area of need at a time – design, copywriting, strategy – and accomplish several items at once.
Decide how much you can afford to spend on a monthly or quarterly basis. Scale your projects to fit your budget. Budget time as well as money. Lay out a plan to work on the website regularly using a mix of outsiders and internal resources.
Perhaps you decide one quarter you want to work on updating content. Decide if anyone in your company has the skill to do copywriting. If you have a candidate, ask them to take a look at the existing content and make recommendations.
Don’t throw the whole website at them. Just ask for some ideas – what they might suggest for revisions. See what they come up with. If you like what they suggest, keep going. If not, consider hiring a copywriter.
Next month, let’s say you want to work on design. Any good designers in your company? If not, save your pennies until you can afford to hire someone good. Who’s good? Take a look at other websites. Find ones that you like the look – find out who designed those. See what else those designers have in their portfolio.
Whether you use internals, or outside vendors, it matters who you select to work on the website. They create the face of your company. Take your time, experiment, choose carefully.
Now, back to the problem of John. You’re right, John has a full time job in the company, and it has nothing to do with website design and development. Figure out where John is most valuable to you. Schedule projects around John’s slow periods. Hire vendors who compliment what John can do, to work on the website when he’s busy.
Looking for a good book? Content Strategy for the Web, 2nd Edition, by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach.