Ready for your website to start working for you? This ultimate guide to website strategy will walk you through how to create a plan for your site so that it can effectively support your business and its goals.
Whether you’re DIY’ing your site from scratch, purchasing a pre-made template or working with a professional website designer, the strategy for your website absolutely needs to be taken into consideration. I’m generally not one for throwing around phrases like ‘absolutely needs to be’ because I firmly believe you can run your business however the hell you want. However, I know how game-changing a strategic website can be for your business. And the same is true for the opposite – a website without a clear strategy can be, well, a little worthless.
I hopped on a potential client call the other day and the first thing she said to me was, “Friends are asking me why I’m changing my website because it looks so pretty. But what they don’t understand is that it’s not actually doing anything for me.”
One of the biggest fallacies we often believe as a business owner is that if it’s pretty, it must work well.
When we first get started, our business is relatively simple. So the strategy of the website is usually something like, all roads lead to a discovery call.
But, over time, our business evolves and we add more complexities. This can be adding a new target market or a completely different revenue stream. We might add speaking and media to the mix or bring on new team members. Perhaps we start a blog, email newsletter or podcast.
This is usually when we start to realize that we need our website to do more than just look good. We actually want it to support our work and grow our business.
Getting to that place – the one where your website is both strategic and beautiful, means first digging into strategy. (Of course!)
And if that’s a foreign concept to you, have no fear. That’s exactly what we’re going to cover today.
In This Article
What is a website strategy?
If you’ve been around here any length of time, you know how important I believe brand strategy is to your business’s success. And, as a quick reminder, your brand’s strategy is how you want to communicate your brand.
So, given this idea, a website strategy is the game plan for how your website will be communicated through design, content and layout. AKA the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating a website that’s effective and works FOR your business.
Yes, a pretty website is, well, pretty. But what’s the point of having a great looking site if it doesn’t support your business’s goals? Sounds like a waste of your time, energy and money.
Website strategy is about designing a site that will help you accomplish your business’s objectives and goals.
Why is it important to strategize before designing?
Head over to your favorite entrepreneur or service provider’s website and I’m willing to bet what drew you in was the design. As business owners, we know the importance of having an aesthetic that looks good and is attractive to our ideal client.
As a designer, I can talk all day about what great design can do for your business. However, this is only part of the story. Because here’s what often gets overlooked: great design is, well, great. But if there’s no purpose behind it, it won’t help you reach your goals. And if it only looks good and doesn’t actually help you book clients or sell products, then how wonderful is it really?
Remember, a website can look snazzy and cool and trendy but completely fail and miss the mark in its intended function.
How to create a website strategy
We walk through the first five steps with our clients but this is also something that you can do on your own. Use this process when planning a new website or if you want to audit how your current site is performing – the goal here is to establish a set plan to work on and build from.
1. Define the primary and secondary goal of your website
It’s a simple question but not always an easy one to answer. Especially if you’re a multi-passionate entrepreneur with a variety of offerings.
The most common trap we fall into is, “Well it books calls. But it also gets me speaking gigs. And also sells affiliate products. And is a place to position me as a content entrepreneur.”
Nope. Not helpful.
Instead, if you had to choose only one, what would you determine as the primary (meaning most important) goal that your website is supporting? And what would be the number two most-important goal?
This doesn’t mean you can’t have more than two ‘things’ that you do or showcase on your site. But rather, when push comes to shove, the primary goal is what all roads are leading to and the secondary goal is, well, the secondary main thing.
Because here’s the thing. If you don’t know and define what you want your website to do, how can you set it up to drive action? And how can you measure whether or not its supporting your business or organization?
1a. And, keep the target audience top of mind.
I think it goes without saying but let’s say it just to be crystal clear: In order for your website to truly support your business goals, you kinda need to make sure it’s speaking to the right person.
And in order to do that effectively, you kinda need to have a good understanding of who that right person is.
Remember, people are busy and they don’t want to dig around your site to see whether or not you can help them. Make it easy, my friends. Call out their problem, speak directly to their paint points and for the love of all things, do not say you work with everyone.
2. Understand the role of the website in terms of your overall brand experience.
This means thinking about the role the website plays in the entire customer journey. How does it support you in each of the four phases – awareness, buy-in, purchase and retention? By looking at your website from the perspective of the entire journey, you can then map out what needs to happen within the website.
Need an example? Here’s the website and customer journey for WCO.
Awareness: We utilize SEO, on-page and through weekly blog content
Buy-in: We have one main email opt-in, The Brand Authority Cheatsheet with CTAs at the bottom of pages and the top of blog posts
Purchase: Our CMS Dubsado is linked on the site as the main CTA to book a call
Retention: We have resources housed on the website that we direct clients to after purchasing with us; our regular check-ins with past clients can direct them towards a new offer or resource on the site
3. Map out the pages you will have on your site, the summary of the content and the primary goal for each.
The goal of your site and the goal of each individual page will most likely be the same, however, there could be differences which is why it’s helpful to define the role each page will play.
For example, the goal of your site may be to get people to book a consultation call but perhaps the goal of your blog page is to lead people to sign up for your email list.
When you understand and map out these differences, you can then be intentional about the type of content that will go on each page. And, ensure you have a variety of pages that align with the primary and secondary goal of your site as a whole.
4. Get clear on the website flow.
Once you have the individual pages and their respective goals defined, it’s now time to think about how they’ll interact with each other and the overall flow a website visitor will have.
Because, spoiler alert, it’s your job as the business owner to tell the website visitor what you want them to do and how you want them to engage with your site.
If they land on the homepage, what do you want them to do next? If they land on a blog post, where should they go?
The idea is that when you map out the desired flow and experience, you can be intentional about how someone moves throughout the entire website and ensure you have the right CTAs across their journey.
Our goal with this process is to guard against someone getting to the bottom of a page and asking, “Okay, what now?”
I know this can seem a little (or a lot) overwhelming. Especially if you have a high number of pages.
But, don’t fret.
Start with the home page and then work from there. Because, more often than not, you’ll find that a ‘flow’ can be repeated for a variety of pages.
5. Gather inspiration for overall aesthetic and website experience.
In our branding process, we ask a broad question: How do you want people to feel when they experience your brand? The same question applies to your website – how do you want people to feel when they engage, visit and explore your site?
There’s a difference between having a website that is beautiful and pretty, and having a website that is intentional about evoking certain feelings and emotions in the visitor.
Because yes, it is possible to have a beautiful website and completely miss the mark on communicating the desired experience. Which is why it’s so important to define what you’re after and gather information that portrays and exemplifies that overall feeling.
6. Create, test, analyze and repeat.
As with all things in your brand, a website is not a one-and-done type of activity. But rather, an evolving tool that is used to connect with your right audience.
Meaning, as your business grows and evolves, so too shall your website.
We often set an expectation that our website should be created perfectly so it can be left alone, never to be touched again.
Not only does that have negative impacts from a search engine optimization perspective, but it also just isn’t supportive. All good things grow and evolve. When you learn more, you do better. The same is true for your website.
The goal in defining a website strategy is to set a foundation and plan so that you have something to build upon and come back to.
From a practical level, this looks like:
- Establishing what metrics matter in terms of tracking your primary and secondary goals
- Consistently check in on those metrics and see what trends are being established
- Test out new opportunities to improve those metrics and see what sticks (and what doesn’t)
So the big takeaway here?
If you’re in the market for a new site and/or you’re updating an existing one, remember that it’s not just about the design. But rather, it’s about determining the overarching plan for the site so that you can walk away with something that not only looks great but also supports you and your business goals.
And of course, if you’re ready to bring in support with your website, we’d love to help you! Check out our signature rebrand package, or, better yet, set up a discovery call to see if we’re a good fit.
All my best,
Additional brand resources
Here’s a deeper look at the collaborative and ease-filled process for creating a strategically aligned brand experience at WCO.
As a growing service based business, here’s what you need in place to maintain a cohesive brand experience.
This guide will walk you through the process of preparing for an effective rebrand.
The ultimate guide for creating your ideal client profile is at your finger tips!
Four simple ideas that will help you increase your website conversions for more sales, as a service based business owner.
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