Last month we explored the first phase in the development of a B2B website. It doesn’t matter if you’re redoing your current site or you’re just starting out with your first website, you need to lay a proper foundation before beginning to design.
If you haven’t checked out what you need to do in phase 1, take some time and read it now.
Are You Ready for Phase 2?
In phase 1, we laid the foundation for a successful website by:
- defining the customer’s journey of engagement with your products and services,
- identifying the ‘look and feel’, your value proposition & key messaging, and
- aligning the navigation with your customer’s journey.
Now it’s time to dive into phase 2. This is when you’ll build the site and launch.
Phase 2 takes time. The amount of time phase 2 of a website development project takes can vary greatly. Much depends on the scope of the project. Some of the factors which will drive the length of your project are: how large is your site, how complex is the design, and how quickly can your internal team turnaround approvals? There are more variables, but these three are some of the key factors.
What does ‘building the site’ mean? It includes:
- actual design of the site – both user experience and visual
- choosing images
- coding and development of the site
- creating or uploading the website content
- writing and adding the meta tags and description
- any changes in navigation
- thorough testing before the site’s launch.
When we design a site, we use the ‘look and feel’ developed during the project’s phase 1 as well as the links to the websites your team liked (and didn’t like). As I mentioned in my last post, we also take into account the user experience (UX). The work we do around UX always results in better design, better content, better navigation, and most importantly, a great experience for your customer. Our user experience expert ensures that your website is actually useful to your customers. I always say that your website is not “yours” – it belongs to your customers. It’s about your products and services, but it’s for your customers and their needs.
All of this information is used to develop the home page and page templates for the internal pages. The internal pages would include pages such as “About,” “Services,” and “Products.” More time is typically spent on the home page design since it is usually (but not always) the first page a visitor encounters.
When you design your website, you need to be certain that you’re choosing the right colors – and you need to follow your brand guidelines. If you don’t have brand guidelines, you run the risk of having all of your sales and marketing materials – of which your website is one – not look like they are from the same company.
Imagine going to a trade show and receiving marketing collateral. Then you decide to visit the company’s website and when you get there it looks nothing like the collateral you picked up. How would you react? You might second-guess doing business with that company.
You want to avoid this situation and that is why it’s important to ensure that you’ve chosen the right colors and your brand guidelines are followed.
Choosing Picture-Perfect Website Images
Selecting website images that make sense for your company and your message is another key aspect of developing a website. You may choose to use stock photography, hire a photographer to create custom photos, or engage a graphic designer to develop images for you – or all three.
If you use stock photography, you’ll want to be certain to select images that aren’t seen everywhere. And if you choose to do a photo shoot or develop graphics, you’ll need to review the photographer’s or graphic designer’s work to ensure that the content and quality of images you receive fit your website’s messaging.
While we typically source the images and photos, your team will review and approve all of the images.
If you’re re-doing your website, you may already have much of the web copy you need. But, if you’re doing a new website or your company has developed different messaging since your last website was rolled out, you’ll need to create new website copy. Sometimes it’s far easier to create new copy instead of trying to update old language – which may not fit the new organization or design.
Development and Testing
Your new website will be built in a staging environment. This ensures that your live site is not impacted by any development activities.
Once your site has been completed, it’s time to test it. No one wants to roll out a website with mistakes or broken links! It is industry practice to test the site in different browsers and on different devices. Your team will also review each page of the test site and we’ll make any final changes to content, layout, or images you need.
And finally it’s launch time. Phase 2 of your website development initiative ends when you take your website live.
What Happens in Phase 3?
You may or may not need a phase 3 for your website development project. If there is an outstanding list of items that need to be completed and didn’t fit the budget in phase 2, you’ll need to assign these to a phase 3 initiative.
Typically, if you have a phase 3 of your web project, it’s likely because your customer base needs the website to be translated into multiple languages.
But, should you do translations?
There is no simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question. In some markets, like pharma for instance, English is the language of choice. In other industries, it is not the preferred language. So the answer to whether you need to translate your website depends on your audience. Ask yourself (and your sales team) what your market wants. Does your audience demand your website in local languages? Knowing the answer to this will determine whether you need to invest in website translation.
Two Quick Tips
Here are two quick tips to remember as you’re thinking about translating your website.
- Be sure that if you do make the move into multi-language websites, you always keep them up-to-date. It is critical that you do not drop this task from your list of to-dos when it comes to keeping your website current.
- If you think there is a possibility of translating your site later on, it’s important to communicate this to your designer during the initial design process. This is key, since as they source images for the site, they’ll need to know not to choose images that have writing in them. The writing in photos won’t be translated when you translate your site.
Website development projects are intense and complicated, but – if done properly – they provide a significant return on investment and increase in customer engagement. If you’re ready to re-do your website and need help getting started, give us a call.
Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, energy and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.