Why “Small” Updates to Your Website Should be Thoroughly Planned Out
Many times, clients have come to us with a problem similar to the following: “My department doesn’t feel they’re represented on the website, can we add a button that says ‘Click Here for Info on XX’ to the homepage?” This may seem like a simple request, but sometimes adding something as seemingly simple as a new button could start a chain of events that begin to affect the original strategy of your new website, and upset the overall user experience. The client’s only thought shouldn’t be how long it will take and how much it will cost. We have more questions to answer to make sure we’re not destroying all the work that went into the new website in the first place.
As the leading user experience and web development firm in Arizona, and one of the leaders in the country, we take great pride in the work that goes into our websites. From the initial research, testing, and planning, all the way through to the very last line of code written, strategy is at the forefront of everything we do at Zion & Zion. Not “planning” but actual “strategy.”
Think About the Experience
Few outside of the marketing industry understand that a website is made up of more than just a good design and some code. We spend a lot of time educating our clients on using strategy to build a website based around brand attributes, the customer journey, competitor analysis, user testing, heat mapping, content flow, SEO audits, and persona development. All of these steps result in carefully thought out wireframes, which are essentially the “blueprint” of your new website.
We think about the goal of each visitor and what they’re trying to achieve as they click through the site. So before we add anything to a website, we must ask ourselves: “How will this new button add to the user’s experience, and how will it help them achieve their goals?” If you can’t answer either of these questions, then you should think twice before adding to the website.
Think About the Design
While clients sometimes see white space on a page and say “just put it there,” it’s not always that easy. A few factors come into play such as:
- Screen Size/Pixel Width – The white space you’re seeing could be a result of the size of the screen you’re viewing the site on, therefore there may not actually be enough space.
- Responsive Design – What will the button look like on a tablet or smart phone?
- User Experience – Take a look at the current calls to action. Are we asking too much of visitors by adding another button?
- Placement – Based on analytics, does it make sense to put the button on the homepage or is there a page that better fits the call to action?
Think About the Writing
Content for a website has become more important than ever. Not only does it need to be curated to reach target customers that may come in contact with your brand, but it must also be optimized for SEO (search engine optimization) and have a specific strategy for reaching each core audience. Whenever adding something to a website, think about what you’re asking for, the goal, and how it fits into the overall strategy.
When writing a new call to action, you must think about what audience will find this important and how they will interpret what is being asked of them. Saying “Click Here for More Info” may not be enough to motivate a visitor to take action. Copy needs to be written in such a way that it hits the pain points of your audience. For example, a call to action such as “Are you dealing with XX problem? Find out how to solve it.” better conveys to your users that they’re in the right place.
Think About the Development
When adding something new to a website, there are several questions the developers need answers to:
- Is there a new page associated with this button?
- Does it involve any other functionality, like a contact form or ecommerce?
- How do we want it to function on a smart phone or tablet?
- What implications does this have for the CMS (content management system) admin?
- How does this fit into the overall site map?
- Does it need to have a relationship to any other pages or functions on the site?
The answers to these questions can affect how much time a developer needs to be able to code something such as a new button or link.
Think About the Budget, People, and Timeline
Now we come back to that age-old question of “how long and how much?” If you’ve reviewed the above, you’re starting to realize it takes more than a few minutes from a developer to add a new button to your website. It involves strategy, user experience, content, designers, and developers.
All of these people are involved to ensure that the experience your audience receives when landing on your website is a positive one, which results in successful conversions. Reviewing the implications of a new button can result in a longer timeframe and more hours needed for the project. And depending how strict of a budget a client has, it can certainly be a challenge.
That’s why we ask clients to consider all of the factors when weighing the importance of adding something new to a website. It’s important to include all of these people in the conversation because when you don’t, you’ll find that though you’ve added a new button, you aren’t necessarily seeing the results you wanted.
Voila, You Have a New Button!
The process of building a website is never complete. The bulk of the work may be completed on launch; but given the rate that technology and businesses move, we understand that things can’t remain the same. A website should always be evolving to suit the behaviors of a brand’s core audience.
When deciding to change something, it’s important for you to consider everything from the experience, design, and content to development, budget, and timing, because your website is one of the most important touch points for your brand. Believe me when I say it’s not hard to turn a once functional website into a cluttered mess. Business owners can quickly forget the reasoning behind placing calls to action and content in specific places—so it’s our job as the experts to always bring them back to the original strategy.