July 6, 2014

5 steps to building a better website.

We are often asked, “Where do you begin when building a website?” It’s an interesting question. There appears to be so many steps that it can often seem like a daunting task. We suggest the following five steps:

1. Understand.

  • Set Goals. Decide what goals you want to achieve. If possible, make them  measurable. Look at your goals and see if they can translate to calls to action.
  • Understand Your Audience. Who are your customers? What would they like to experience on my website?
  • Research. What competitors are in your marketplace? What do they provide? What are their sites? What can make you unique? What online opportunities await?

2. Plan.

  • Positioning. What type of image should you present?
  • Messaging. What is your elevator speech? What defines you? What do you think are the key phrases that your customers will use to find you. How and where will you best present this information – video, blog, corporate site, social sites?
  • Promotion. A website itself isn’t enough to stand out. How will audiences find you? How will you be found on search engines? How will you convert views to opportunities?
  • Compatibility. There’s many ways to present a website on different browsers and mobile devices. Understanding the requirements up-front is critical to developing a successful site.
  • Assets. What assets do you already have? Do you have brand guidelines, digital image files, existing content, or downloadable files for an online library?

3. Define.

  • Technology. What is required to make your site work for you? Do you need to manage the copy edits and additions with a content management system? Do you need video or audio? Do you need a blog, contact forms, e-commerce, or member areas? Do you need online tools that add unique functionality to the site?
  • Sitemap. This is a list of pages that define the structure of your initial site. This is often developed further to show all of the major content areas and cross links in your site.
  • Wireframe. This is a simple outline of your proposed website design.
  • Budget. You can only truly define a web development budget once all of the design and functional parameters are defined.

4. Develop.

  • Design. To be efficient, we recommend designing just the home page layout for team approval. Once the home page is approved, we move on to designing second page templates to support the remainder of the site.
  • Content. Copywriting is critically important in converting hits to leads – or even sales. It is also important to incorporate key phrases for search engine rankings.
  • Programming. After the design and content is approved, W3C compliant programming begins. This needs to be produced to to meet all of the technology and compatibility requirements.
  • Testing. Testing is important to make sure that all of the design, programming and functional requirements are met. Often user research is conducted at this stage to ensure that the the project goals are being met, or to find additional improvements.

5. Implement.

  • Launch. Launching a site is an important, and sometimes involved procedure. Great care is needed to allow a smooth transition.
  • Promote. There’s no better time to promote a site than when it’s new. Promoting a site through multiple channels on an ongoing basis achieves the greatest results.
  • Measure. With the amount of analytics that can now be acquired, precise updates to the site can continue to improve your site’s visibility.

July 8, 2013

Welcome to our new website.

It’s an exciting time at M2 Communications. Each week we continue to expand our network of new clients and partners. And with our new website we’ll be sharing more information, further samples of our work, and industry information that you can use every day. And we won’t be stopping there. We’ll be adding new technical and social features in the upcoming weeks – so please check back again.