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Over at Noisegate Media, Ben has been writing about one of our recent joint projects and highlighting why this particular piece of web development was so successful. At the formal review last week it was good to hear that the client team enjoyed the whole process as much as we did!
There is no doubt that the new Gateway Energy site is as good as it is because of the time and effort we all invested in planning it.
Taking a strategic approach is relatively easy - it just requires a framework or a process, a little head space and some conscious thought.
If your web site is the hub of your online presence, then developing it must include good design, robust technical deployment and, crucially, a clear roadmap for content creation and management ... including integrating it with social media, PR, and all your other marketing efforts.
In developing Gateway's content strategy and site specification, we involved various members of the client's team - the people working at the sharp end who have day to day contact with actual customers.
This is because it's the visitor experience and journey that's at the heart of a good site. What matters is content that people want to read, use and share ... and being able to get to it easily and quickly.
Your website is not a puff piece for your ego.
From your perspective, you want to be able to update content and add to it and publish it and share it. You may even want to earn income from it. You therefore need a technical solution that allows you do this easily and quickly.
Otherwise your website just becomes a barrier - something difficult, to be fudged, fixed and wrestled with.
Top tips for developing a serious, hard working website
- Spend time planning your website. What must it achieve, what role will it play in your overall marketing? What actions do you want visitors to take? Start with a clean sheet. Stop grabbing all your printed materials and trying to make an online jigsaw out of it. And avoid taking your current site and just adding to it - that's a missed opportunity.
- Work with people who know what they're doing and can actually help you create your strategy. Testing the user experience with friends and clients is good, but be aware of their limitations. They're unlikely to know enough about your business or best practice at large to make an effective contribution. You risk ending up with a hodge podge of suggestions based on individual personal preferences.
- Buy the best you can afford and make sure the technical platform is a) sound and b) capable of handling your needs as they evolve. You want a solution that positively encourages you to create and publish fresh and engaging content - with no fear of mucking it all up. The Gateway Energy site is a Content Management System which does clever stuff with content to create changing, context rich pages - you post it once, it gets used dynamically over and over again. And, my, it looks good too. Why is that? Could it be the clear, clean, crisp look, consistent font and colour scheme? Simplicity and clarity is preserved from adulteration - no one can introduce odd random panels, font styles or weird colours and the site can never become crowded with competing messages.
Even just a little time and extra budget invested wisely at the start can make a big difference - and save you money, hassle and much fiddling around time in the long run.
Have you recently developed a new website and have a tip to share? Or are you thinking about a new site and have a question to ask? Do let me know ...
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