Planning Your Website



5 important things to think about when planning your new website

Summary

Welcome to the second ever Monkey Monday vlog, with Rusty Monkey directors Chris and Matt. Today they’re talking about the five most important things to keep in mind when you want a new website – and some of the common pitfalls too. 

Here are the big five: 

  • Brand guidelines (00:25) 

  • Budget (01:52) 

  • Customer journeys (03:28)

  • Technology (05:14)

  • Online marketing (07:03)

Get in touch with us if you need further guidance on any of these things! You can comment below or visit our website. Hit subscribe for more inspiring content from the Rusty Monkey team, and leave a comment with your ideas of subjects you’d like us to tackle next. 

Finally, check out our very own video page for information on how we can help you make cool vlogs and other video content. 

Happy viewing!


Video transcript

Matt: Hi, I’m Matt. 

Chris: And I’m Chris, and we’re from Rusty Monkey. Back in our new office. 

Matt: Still not built yet, but we’re working on it. 

Chris: Today we want to talk about five top things to think about when you’re planning a website. 

Matt: That was seamless. It was like no-one could tell you were reading from your phone there.

#1 Brand guidelines

  • Your brand is more than just a logo

  • A website needs a solid brand identity to support it


Chris: Okay fine. Well I'll remember this bit, which is: Do you have your brand guidelines in place?


Matt: Yeah, so when you put together a design brief, I think it's important... We wanna give you some advice here. We get all sorts of design briefs through - sometimes non-existent, sometimes they're too detailed, they've gone down a particular technical route that they probably don't need to have gone down, or they're misguided. So the first of the five things we wanna talk about is looking at brand guidelines. If you're getting a site built, you need to know how it's gonna fit with all your other marketing. You wanna make sure that's in place so any designer can take your guidelines, build a site that's fit for purpose, and understand everything you're trying to communicate.


Chris: Yep. And do you actually have a brand? You need to really start from a solid foundation.


Matt: Yeah, and we don't mean a logo here. Some brand guidelines that we've worked with in the past can be encyclopaedic. Nissan Europe's guidelines - I remember back in the day when we were doing some CD-ROM work (when they were a thing) - they were huge, really detailed. I mean, you don't have to go to that length, but you've gotta have more than just a logo and a typeface. You wanna be able to really have all of your communication layers in place. Preferably, anyway. So if you can go to your preferred web design agency with that in place, you're half the way there to getting your design bang-on.

#2 Budget

  • Know your limits and communicate them clearly

  • It's okay to start small and work your way up


Chris: And number two is: Budget.


Matt: Yes, so we believe in open, honest dialogue. The best way any creative agency or web agency can service you is understand your business, understand what capital you've got to put behind this, and what you're trying to do with that money. So, is it being funded, have you got funding for it? Is it something that you need to build up over time? Do you need an ongoing improvement contract? All of these things are great for us to know, so that we can give you the best advice. Sometimes our advice might be to someone who's completely new and starting, 'Look, you haven't really got very much budget here, you'd be much better off getting one of these free pre-built things,' through - I dunno, there's loads now - there's Wix, there's Squarespace, there's loads out there. None of them are really great, but they will get you started. Just start. Get the free stuff, and put that little bit of budget towards some online marketing or something.


Chris: Yeah, because if someone comes to us and says they want this massive great website, and we or any design agency can do a big quote, then come back and say, 'Well, this is gonna cost you £200,000!' And you go, 'Ah. I've got £500...'


Matt: Yeah, exactly. So understand your budget, understand what you need to create, understand the complexity of web design - some stuff's going to be more expensive than other things. Communicate where you are with your preferred agency and let them help you get the best you can for whatever budget you've got.

#3 Customer journeys

  • Understand your customer's journey through your website

  • Don't emulate your competition - base your website on your specific audience


Chris: And number three is: The customer journey.


Matt: Yeah, so one of my bugbears with design briefs is when companies bring me a site map and they say, 'This is the site we want to be built.' I mean, that's great if you've got the right team behind you to understand the world of online marketing, understand everything within your business, and you know that this is gonna work. But we think what works much better, our belief is that if you come to us with your user journeys - you know, what your customers want to get from your website - then we can help create that site map. It should be down to a technical and creative web team to determine what that site map should be. There are SEO implications, there are user experience implications, and if you dictate the site map from the outset, it can affect how well that site performs.


Chris: Yeah, and I think a lot of people go, 'I know what I do. I'm a hotel manager, and I want a hotel website,' and they go, 'What do all the other hotels do? And we will just copy exactly their site map.' And I think that's definitely the wrong journey to take, because it doesn't take into account who your clients are and what they actually want. You've just got the same website as everyone else, with a different logo.


Matt; Yeah. That kind of market research is important, but it's something you should work with your agency on, so that they can understand your position in the marketplace, and what differentiates you. If you're just emulating someone else, then why should anybody care? Why should anybody invest in whatever you're trying to sell or do, versus your competition, when you've just rebadged what they're doing?

#4 Technology

  • Have an idea of the kind of functionality you need your website to have

  • Talk to an agency that understands your technological needs


Chris: Number four: Technology.


Matt: Yeah, so, you may have a really simple brochure site in mind, and that's dead easy, and you don't wanna spend much money on hosting. You might have some really sensitive data with all the GDPR laws that are coming into place. Are you running E-commerce? Are you holding people's data and credit card information? Do you need a more complex server? So, understanding the needs of the business and getting a good idea of what your technical requirements would be is also a great thing to put in the brief. With a web design brief, you don't have to get it all completely right when you bring it to any agency, you could work with the agency on it. So part one of any process could be to go to a web agency and help them get that brief done. They may not even do the job for you, but they can help you get that brief right so that you can then go round and get the quotes you need, and partner with someone who's going to work for you.


Chris: Yep. And in the technology realm as well, we need to talk ongoing support - how much is your website going to cost to maintain? How complex are the technologies behind it?


Matt: Yeah, do you need some continuous improvement contract? Is this, 'Hey, we'll get this brochure site and we're done', or is there more management to be done there? Is it a complicated web platform? Do you need someone to support that technology and help improve that technology over time?


Chris: Yep, and the hosting of it. If your site gets really popular, how much are you going to need to spend on hosting? Because it's obviously going to get more and more.


Matt: Yeah, so it's not always easy to do if you don't understand this stuff, but again, it's great to partner with someone and help get that right from the outset.


Chris: And, luckily, we understand all this stuff, so if you need anything, just write a question in the comments below and we can answer anything on another vlog.

#5 Online marketing

  • What is the best way to promote your website?

  • Make a detailed plan of your goals and expectations


Chris: Number five: Online marketing.


Matt: Yeah, so, you can get a site built, but if you've not thought about what that site needs to do and how it's gonna connect with your audience, that's a real big mistake. So do you need it promoting? Do you need it to do well in organic search? Is there opportunity for paid marketing? Is some of your interest going to come from targeting social media demographics? How are you going to convert whatever you're trying to do online? Maybe you're a politician trying to get votes - who knows? There's loads of different types of site, and some of them need some online marketing, some of them need a lot of online marketing, some of them don't really need anything at all, some of them can just be a shop window brochure site that doesn't need that much - not many, but there are a few out there. So, think about what you want your site to achieve and what audience you want to get, and where it's going to come from.


Chris: Yeah, and also, if you're spending money on online marketing, you need to know that you're getting results. Because a lot of companies, you'll get cold calls as soon as you get a new website, going, 'We can offer this, you can be the first page of Google', or whatever. But we need to focus on the outcome on the bottom line to your business, rather than getting to the top in something that actually doesn't matter that much.


Matt: Yeah, that's interesting. We're working at the moment on some new digital strategies. We already put some stuff in place so that we can measure some return of investment, and we put goals in our strategies as well, so that we can reach a certain domain authority by a certain date if we can, and we need to get X amount of backlinks, and your Twitter followers up to whatever that might be. Our new strategy has some maths behind that, so the better your online marketing agency understands your business goals, the better you can get that strategy aligned with those goals. You want to sell 10,000 fez hats in the East Midlands?


Chris: I certainly do.


Matt: Well, we can do some analysis and we can work out what sort of lay out that might be to actually get the amount of traffic you'd need to get that conversion.


Chris: And that is a big topic, so I think we'll be doing more vlogs on that at a later date. But I think those are the five - yep, those are the five tips.


Matt: Check your phone seamlessly there. See no phone here, I'm doing it all hands-free, all from the brain.


Chris: And nothing came up anyway, it's just a picture of my wife so... that's bizarre. Anyway, that's it, hope you enjoyed that. Just send us comments or any questions below and we'll answer more at a later date, in the next one.


Matt: Yep, catch you later.


Chris: Bye.


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