How to avoid a Dog's Dinner website

So here’s how it goes…

You decide you need a new business website. You hire a designer. You meet with them and get excited about colours… they show you some flashy websites and talk a lot about parallax scrolling and their new version of pop-up chat boxes. You part with money.

The website comes back. It looks cool and in the words of the designer “all you need to do is add your content.”

You realise with a sinking feeling that no-one has given any thought to the words on the site or the route of your visitor from end to end.

You realise you got blinded by the flashy design and forgot the basics. You forget about the results you deliver to your clients. You forget about your ideal customer and why they buy from you in the first place. You even forgot about why you come to work every morning.

But you’ve invested money in this design and you need to finish the job… You end up slapping in some content and a few stock images… and there you have it… the dogs dinner website!

A complete muddle of content and design with no clear direction, focus or strategy.

Does it deliver a steady flow of leads? Of course not.

And now you’re stuck with it for a couple of years because you’ve blown your marketing budget… and you’re so over websites you can’t possibly think about doing it all again.

So how do you avoid this mess?

Avoid the mess by starting with a master plan. Not as exciting as the design stage but vital for success.

If you were building a dream house, would you start with the bricks and mortar? Of course you wouldn’t. You’d get some plans drawn up first.

It’s the same with a website.

It’s cheap and easy to change a drawing. It’s expensive and stressful to re-program a website.

Start here

Define your target market. If you’re not sure who they are, dig into your existing client base and write a list of your best clients. Who are they?

Male / female
20s / 30s / 40s / 50s / 60s / 70s
Married / Single
Financial sector / creative sector / trades / professional services
Sole traders / small businesses / medium corporates / big business
Start ups / established businesses etc

Write a detailed description of your ideal buyer. Now draw the areas of your business in an ideal world on a piece of paper.

Note that I say ‘ideal world’ above. This means that you can show an area of your business that you are in the process of growing as larger than it actually is. And if there’s an area you’d like to sweep under the carpet, you might opt not to show it at all…

Now for each area of the business write down 5 problems or dreams your ideal buyer has and explain why your service provides the answer. Once you’ve done this you know what you’re selling to who and why. Good start.

With this in mind, think about your website’s home page. The area ‘above the fold’ (first screen on a laptop or mobile) is where you have up to 6 seconds to impress your visitor before they leave. If everyone leaves quickly Google will drop you like a ton of bricks.

Plan Your Website

Plan out how you’re going to communicate your message quickly using images and words. If you realise you don’t know how to do this, ask for help from a professional digital marketing consultant – this investment will pay you over and over again.

Then as visitors scroll down the home page give them short sharp sections of text for important sections of your business, with complementary images and clicks through to pages with more detail.

For the rest of the site, plan your content and keep it relevant.

Present it logically and follow on in an organised way. User experience is very important. Your visitors are lazy and will leave if they can’t easily find what they are looking for.

Once you have a detailed plan, wireframe it out making sure you include all the relevant contact and social information and create a structural plan for the developers. Consider hiring a professional to help you get this right.

And now you’re ready to talk to a web designer. No more dog’s dinner websites for you.

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