Some of the team has prepared a top tip for your website success. From managing a digital project to understanding your business data, we have it covered!
Stu, Business Development Manager
1. Give yourself time and space
Trying to run and manage a web project at the same time as all your other day to day activities is a recipe for disaster. It’s important to speak with your management and set expectations that a project like this will require a lot of focus, time, and effort for it to be a success. You’ll need to run internal meetings, manage key stakeholders, liaise with your agency, prepare and manage content and images, and this is just for starters! Being realistic about how long a project will take to deliver is a must, right from the point of agency selection through to go-live. Whenever possible you should delegate some of your other responsibilities to give yourself the time and space that’s needed.
Adele, Marketing Manager
2. Create an integrated digital marketing strategy
Integrated marketing means creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers when interacting with your brand. It means your marketing mix across channels, including your website, works coherently and is consistent for the customer. Every marketer knows an integrated marketing strategy is what’s needed but today when teams are often segmented into specialist areas, it’s easier said than done! It’s crucial that your PR, marketing, digital teams, and any external agencies are working in sync as one integrated function, using one plan with aligned goals that all teams build together. It’s helpful to appoint project leaders to drive the plan forward and keep everyone on track. Above all else, communication is key throughout and there should be regular checkpoints to assess the progress and ensure a truly integrated approach.
Sarah, Support Manager
3. Small updates can have a big impact
We know there can be thousands of reasons why a brand new, shiny website just isn’t on the cards for your business right now. Don’t, however, underestimate how relatively small updates and changes can have a big impact on your digital platforms, whether through user experience or conversion rates. In the Support team, we continuously work with our clients to ensure their website is performing at its best, no matter what budget is available. This can be technical optimisation such as increasing website speed and reducing load times, or a design feature that increases the number of pages visited. A simple change in your website’s navigation can significantly improve the user experience which can in turn lead to better conversions and ultimately profit. In the digital world where competition is strong, even the smallest of improvements matter.
Stuart, Production Director
4. A digital team is for life, not just for a project…
The success of a new website is rarely measured solely on whether it was delivered on time and to budget with the desired level of functionality and quality, although this is always a great start! The real success of a new website can only be determined once it’s live and being used by your customers. Its true potential can then be realised through an iterative process of reviewing website usage and refining on an on-going basis, whether through improved content, information architecture, etc. None of this can be realised without the right client team in place to support it. The key to fully delivering against your defined business objectives is to ensure the digital team remains in place once the project is live and has the right mix of skills, resources and time to deliver on-going success.
Charlie, Project Manager
5. Get your digital project off to a good start
For a successful digital project, it’s vital that it’s kicked off properly. To do this, you need to ensure you have the right people with the right skillset on the project, and that everyone’s roles and responsibilities are clearly defined from the outset. You also need to be realistic about the project’s timeframe based on the scope of work. Remember that if you demand shorter timeframes, it’s inevitable that the scope will need to be reduced. Make sure you clarify your requirements clearly; don’t assume people know exactly what you’re after, and ensure both you and your agency are on the same page to avoid problems later on. Finally, we know process is good when it adds clarity, but we don’t follow it just for process’ sake, particularly if it’s a barrier in benefiting your project.
Matt, Head of Development
6. Know your business data in detail
When you’re engaging a solution partner to either build a new website or extend your existing website, you’ll no doubt have to consider the information held within your business. If you need to integrate your business data with the website, you need to know that your IT team understands how it is structured at a technical level, whilst you understand it at a conceptual level. Databases that have grown over time have a tendency of not being very well documented (if at all) and the undocumented business rules reside within the database. It’s therefore important to first engage your IT team to create or update a data dictionary which describes the contents, format, and structure of the database(s) and the relationship between its elements that represent your business, helping to ensure the success of your future projects.
Jim, Technical Director
7. Choose your platform wisely
Choosing a CMS and/or ecommerce provider is an increasingly challenging proposition. Do you base your decision on feature set, technology stack, cost, scalability or all of the above? You may have already selected your desired platform. You may have opted for an all-in-one solution. You may gone with a customised approach. Our mandate at Ridgeway has always been to challenge our clients (in a nice way!) and really find out if the platform encompasses their requirements. Choosing wisely saves time, effort, and importantly, cost in the long run, and with so many options out there it can be a minefield. Always look to your agency to guide you in the right direction and ensure success for you and your business.
Graeme, Head Marketing and Client Services
8. Start with your ‘why?’
'What?’, I hear you ask, and ‘how?’ The founder of ‘Start with Why’, Simon Sinek, makes a clear definition of ‘why?’ as “your purpose, a cause and a belief that really inspires you to do what you do.” Unpacking the ‘why?’ behind your product or service by considering why you’re selling it, why people need it, and why your sales team should care can keep your team focused with a level of real motivation, creating a feeling of authenticity and passion to all your customers, as well as credibility. It’s a powerful way to communicate. The answers will help fuel your ‘why’, which can be externalised to boost sales. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”, quotes Simon Sinek. Listen here to his popular TED talk ‘Start With Why?' for his explanation of the simple principle behind every successful person and business.
9. Follow your customers, not a trend
It’s that time of year again when your Twitter feed will be inundated with articles named things like; “8 Web Design Predictions for 2017”. Hey, we even wrote one ourselves. But before you start breaking grids and applying duotones across all your imagery, take a second to consider what a ‘trend’ really is. Trends in the fashion world move through a recurring process known as the ‘Fashion Cycle’. So, how do you solve the problem of your brand or website becoming obsolete? It’s simple, design for your audience and brand values in a tone that’s acceptable for your business requirements, and not because it’s “on trend”. Ask yourself, is my designer trying to solve my problem it in a way that has empathy for my customers? You never know, you may become a trendsetter yourself.
Ben, Systems Manager
10. Keeping applications at high performance
Today, we build and run complex distributed applications that operate across several tiers, an indefinite number of servers, and interact with countless remote services. Opening up traditional server monitoring tools when things go bad just isn’t going to cut it. Application Performance Monitoring (or APM, because everyone in IT loves an acronym, right?) takes a far more holistic approach. The line between infrastructure and application has become increasingly blurred and APM recognises this, enabling development and operations teams to come together and look at a single pane of glass that shows them the information they need, not only to respond to incidents, but to assess the health of an application in order to prevent incidents, and keep the application performant. For our clients, this means that when the customers come, their site is ready. And for their customers, there’s no frustration of standing in a long queue listening to Slade for the seventh time that day!
Mark, UX Architect
11. Get out of the building
Entrepreneur Steve Blank coined the term “get out of the building” to encourage owners of start-ups to stop hiding behind office walls and get out and talk directly to their customers in order gain a true understanding of whether their product/service really solves their problems. The sentiment applies equally to established businesses. We may think we know who our customers are, but the only true way to find this out is by actually talking to them and understanding not only where their pain points are but also where there may be opportunities to improve their experience. This feedback may vary from something as simple as changing some copy to make the interface clearer, to a brand new feature. What’s important is that the experience that you provide fits with the expectations that customers have for your product/service.
Simon Cole, Director
12. Back to the future
‘Where we’re going, we don’t need roads’ – Doc Brown couldn’t have been more wrong! Getting the basics of your website right is undeniably key to success, but one thing that’s all too often overlooked is road mapping and planning properly for the future. It’s easy to get caught up in the past hang-ups of your site with quick solutions for the present, but there’s a balance between having a solution that works for now, and one that’s scalable for future success. Consider your wider business objectives and plan for your new website in line with the rest of your marketing strategy. Think about the technology you may eventually need, the scope and flexibility of your site, industry trends and advancements, and for ecommerce stores, forecast demand using sales data. You should also prepare for the traffic that will go through your site during seasonal fluctuations, so assessing your past Analytics will give you good insight to prepare for what’s ahead. Oh and always chat to your agency to discuss the ways you can appropriately and manageably prepare for the future eventualities of your website.