The Author

An avid spinner and iced tea aficionado, Julie tackles association, nonprofit and small business communications challenges in this blog.  She's Senterline's Chief Problem Solver, able to overcome redundant databases and prickly politics with the greatest of ease.

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Website Makeovers, Part II: Questions to Ask

Photo Credit: Janneke HikspoorsIn my last post, I said I’d follow up with some questions you need to contemplate when considering an association or small business website overhaul.  That’s because it’s very easy to get sidetracked by the bells and whistles you want and lose sight of the overall purpose or what you want the site to accomplish.

Your first thought is to bookmark sites you like and start salivating at the thought of social media integration, a gorgeous interface and drop boxes for your members or clients.  And you should be excited!  Technology has come a long way in the past few years and all of the things that make a site look professional and sexy, are now available at a very low cost.

But that’s not where you should start. 

Be watchful of the sites you like, and pay special attention to what your competitors are doing (or not doing to identify opportunities), but start by asking a few key questions.  (Your designer will ask you these questions, too, so why not get a head start?)  Here are some of the most important ones taken from a more extensive survey Senterline uses for its clients.

The Key Questions

What is the site’s purpose?  To provide information?  To drive sales?  To attract clients?  To improve customer service? A site can accomplish more than one thing, of course, but you must have a clear vision of the primary purpose.

What problems have you encountered with your existing site that you would like solved? One of our association clients was using three different calendars – one for the public, one for event registrations and one for staff – that needed to be consolidated.  Another had no place to house key materials used by staff in different locations and needed an Intranet.

What action do you want visitors to take when they visit?  Do you want them to search for and download information?  Do you want leads for sales or new memberships?  Do you want visitors to purchase something on the spot?  Beginning with the end in mind will help determine what gets placed on the site’s most valuable real estate.

How do you plan to update the content, and how often?  So you build a website and upload an impressive array of content that drives readership and meets your goals. Now what? Knowing how you will update the site will help determine the type of content management system you need to power the site.

Questions About Your Current Traffic

It’s also a good idea to spend some time analyzing the Web statistics from your current site.  

  • What sites refer the most traffic to you?
  • What keywords do visitors search for to find your site?
  • What browsers and operating systems do your visitors use?
  • What content is most popular?
  • What keywords do visitors search for on your site?  Are you missing content your audience wants?  Check out the terms your visitors are searching for to see if there is content you need to put on your site.

A little pre-planning will go a long way in helping you save money while actually getting a site that meets your needs and accomplishes your goals.

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