We build websites backward.
It took me a long time to figure that out, but I understand why. Mostly, in the world of small business, owners (and web developers) don’t think in terms of planning.
Frankly, I didn’t much when I was a website builder.
(btw, I am purposely using builder vs. developer or designer- I was more of a builder)
We were building a website. In the early days, the technical aspect was so involved that things like content were pretty far down the list.
That’s just how it was.
As time went on, tools replace many of the hard coding jobs, and we started to think more about things like design (how pretty it is) and content.
Then, we (the industry) started thinking about how to get users to contact the business owner.
Nowadays, with all of the website builders on the market, for small business owners, the technical part is often among the least difficult parts of the process.
Thus, we understand now, that the most important part of a website project is solving a problem, and the most pressing problem of businesses of all sizes is converting visitors.
Things like traffic also matter, but you can kick start that with influencers and PPC ads.
Consider what Chris Lema said in a series of posts tonight.
None of that even hits design yet. And design is critical to getting people to interact the way you want them to.
— Chris Lema (@chrislema) December 13, 2016
This one right here is gold:
Too many people jump into wanting a site to be beautiful without paying attention to function & purpose. Only you can answer that.
— Chris Lema (@chrislema) December 13, 2016
So, we build our websites backward.
Now, to be fair, Chris is talking about function and purpose and my focus is on content, but the rant is the same. Function, purpose, and content are just too important to ignore before design.Function, purpose, and content are just too important to ignore before design. Click To Tweet
It is way too easy, especially if you feel you are in a time crunch, to pick a cool theme and get going.
“Slow down there buttercup!”
I mean, seriously.
What’s going to happen is you are going to get that thing going (the theme) and start trying to cram content into your content areas.
If you have premade content (which I doubt), you may find it don’t work with said cool theme you chose.
If you don’t, then you spend time building out content to go into your cool new theme.
Whoa! The content doesn’t work.
Well, let’s just choose another theme.
Let’s drop another 50 bucks on a new theme.
How much is your time worth?
How much time did you waste figuring out your content doesn’t fit.
“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” Those were, of course, the famous words of OJ Simpson’s attorney, and the turning point in his trial (the first one).
Purpose and function (as Chris mentions), goes out the window.
A few months later you are looking at your Google Analytics and scratching your head.
Little traffic and little movement.
You are building your website backward!
What is your purpose?
This one simple question changes everything.
“Begin with the end in mind.” That is a quote and chapter taken from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
It is funny how this principle goes out the window.
Look, I know that we have to have agility in business, be willing to pivot and change directions.
I get that.
However, with a website it makes a huge difference if you are going to build an eCommerce website or a marketing website.
These days, there are no more static, brochure websites. Well, those that exist are left behind in a time machine.
You simply can’t get by with a static site unless you have absolutely no goals for your website. (That’s harsh, maybe a couple goals.)
Your website has to be active, breathing, living.
And with its activity, there needs to be a purpose.
The purpose then supports the goals.
The goals then support the content.
And the content, it then supports the website.
Content has to be active.
And it all comes back to purpose.
If you can’t answer that question, your website will wonder aimlessly.If you can't answer that question, your website will wonder aimlessly. Click To Tweet
And if it is gorgeous?
Well, it is the most gorgeous, aimless, website in existence.
Where do I start?
I think that you should start with a blueprint, a strategy. That’s right!
I am currently working on building a content blueprint that can easily be replicated.
Of course, you need to know your goals, but once that is set, you start filling in your content blueprint.
There are certain aspects of a website that should be filled in.
Additionally, you should already have nailed down things such as your Unique Value Proposition which helps you with your company and product differentiation.
I am working on something for that too 🙂
What do you say?
When you start a website project, how do you start?
Do you pay attention to the content?
Are you only concerned about design?
Let’s do a better job with website projects, shall we?