As we launch our new website, I am quite sure this is the best one we have ever made for ourselves. I am also sure that I have thought that every time!
Since 1998, I believe (if my memory serves me correctly) that we have had six websites – that’s a new site every three years. In the past, we have at times used our own site as a digital guinea pig and some functions and features have worked better than others. But I do believe that as we want to strive to deliver the best digital experience, we must take a few risks – especially when the pace of change has been so dramatic over the last few years.
I do feel now though that that pace of change is settling down a little (statement true at time of writing). We understand the impact of mobile and touch and SEO implications seem to me at least, to be making more sense. Google seem to be rewarding genuinely great content. Yes, we need to lead the horse to water – but we must then also entice it to drink!
Mark Ritson from Marketing Week said recently that digital marketing does not exist, that now there is only marketing in a digital world. Click here for a link to his recent talk at Insight 16 on Marketing Week's website. This seems so obvious once I heard it! To me, this means we need to look at all marketing channels, including offline, and put them into one pot so that we can cherry pick the ones that are going to work for us. It is right to put the website at the heart of our marketing tools but it needs the right support to deliver outstanding results.
Flagship marketing channel
As websites are flagship marketing channels they also work very differently for different types of businesses. For this, our latest site, we felt that showcasing our project experience was the most important thing and have shaped the navigation around that. Providing a tool for prospective new clients to evaluate our expertise properly is the most important function of our site. This focus helped us clear out clutter which helped create a lighter and easier to understand site. So it makes sense to have a clear list of priorities.
I would advocate that we think boldly for our future websites to ensure they are not a giant oil-tanker full of information that is not especially useful to someone who does not know you very well and who does not want to spend hours on your site. Doing a bit of preparation and really thinking through what you want to happen will do wonders for your website strategy.
A suite of microsites?
Does it perhaps make more sense to have more than one website with more targeted information that is much more appealing and will improve the outcomes? A suite of microsites perhaps, that are more nimble and would require approval from fewer stakeholders. What about one for prospects, one for existing clients with login and personalisation and another for recruitment? Perhaps throw one in for investors if that floats your boat? Oops, am I just trying to make things more complicated again…?