Website to Wonderful: Makeover Edition

November 4, 2011

November Mood by _fleuresmee on deviantart.com

 

Website to Wonderful. A website makeover guide for the rest of us.

This is going to be a series of blog posts intended to help you make over your website presence.

Who is it for?

Well, it’s for you if you have a business or other organisational site which you think needs a little love. If:

  • you’re not getting the customers or the transactions that you need
  • you’re not expressing yourself in the way that you want
  • you suspect it could be a lot better

and

  • you don’t particularly want to approach a designer yet, because it’s not just about the design

In these posts, we are going to look at websites inside-out and upside-down and bottom-up. I’m going to lead you through the process of creating a site that is more authentic and more persuasive. I’ll post useful resources and checklists as we go.

So let’s get started.

Who are you and what do you have?

I’m guessing that you have:

  • a business, or some kind of online offer (selling physical stuff, consulting, education, charity, whatever)
  • an audience of some kind (readers, buyers, prospects, job-hunters, colleagues, naysayers)

aaand

  • a website.

So the fundamental question is this:

What part does your website play in your business?

(Or in your work, maybe, if it’s not exactly a business that you’re involved in.)

Here are three scenarios to help you get to grips with that question.

1. The designer

Brian is a freelance graphic designer. His website is pretty much a portfolio – a place where prospective employers can come and check out his work before they give him a contract. Brian wants to build a name for himself in his industry, so he also writes irregular posts on design issues. His site needs to convince people of his skills and talent. Most of his readers will be his peers, but the most important viewers are his prospective clients.

2. The marketing manager

Melissa is the marketing manager for a regional science museum. Her organisation’s website serves many different needs: it provides basic information on opening hours and facilities, and it showcases the museum’s permanent and temporary exhibits. For the marketing team, the website is one more link in a chain of promotional activities, providing information that will help persuade people to visit.

3. The online coach

Liz is a business coach for women entrepreneurs. Liz’s site IS her business: her writing and video pieces attract a loyal readership who like her style and who sign up for training programmes. Liz’s site has to attract, keep and convert visitors on a daily basis. An interesting thing to notice is that Liz’s site converts visitors over an extended period of time. Brian’s visitors may hire him after noodling around for 20 minutes; Liz’s might take 2 months or more before they pick up the phone.

Different businesses, different goals.

What about you? Where does your website fit with your work?

Let’s find out. Take a nice blank piece of paper and divide it into two columns.

On the left hand side, write ‘What my website has to do,’ and in the right hand column write ‘How my site currently does it.’

I’ll fill some of it out for Melissa’s up-and-coming museum.

[box type="shadow"]
[one_half] What Melissa’s site has to do:

  • Provide basic information for prospective visitors
  • Portray the museum as an appealing destination for families
  • Attract teachers who organise school trips
  • attract general visitors who are lukewarm about science

[/one_half] [one_half_last]How the site can do this

List opening times, exhibitions, facilities, directions; a friendly, modern design

Give information on family-friendly facilities, downloadable visitor kits, information about holiday workshops

Provide a separate page for teachers outlining the school visit service, plus downloadable kits for use in lessons

Run regular features exploring new issues or new exhibits, in the museum’s fortnightly blog.[/one_half_last]

[/box]

We could go on, but that’s a good start. Try it for yourself. Brainstorm what your goals are, and whether the current design and content of your site supports you. What could you change quickly and easily to support your work better? Pick one activity for the next few days and see how you get on.

In the next piece, I’m going to introduce you to the evil science of usability.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue Ann Gleason November 4, 2011 at 6:48 pm

A simple but powerful exercise. thank you. I think we all need to stop from time to time to take a look at our website. As our business evolves, so does our site. I look forward to more!

Reply

Ali Mac November 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm

Thanks, Sue Ann. I’m planning to cover tips that will be useful to people at different stages, including a piece on emotions and reader relationships.

Reply

Anonymous November 4, 2011 at 8:50 pm

OOOhh, I think I might be ‘Liz’!!! I’m really keen to find a new wordpress theme that is more geared to video but am nervous about the transition and if I’ll lose all my written posts!!! Looking forward to all your tips Ali!

Reply

Ali Mac November 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Great question!  Yeah, a good video theme is a little bit different.

Your transition should be fine.  I have been through more themes than many people have hot dinners, and I’ve not lost anything yet. It is still slightly painful though.

Reply

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