It’s a new year and time get on to that new website project you have been promising to do. Selecting the right website partner is integral to the success of this project. So how can you ensure that you select the right company to build your website, to achieve your goals and grow your business? There are many factors that will influence this decision, some more important than others. I have been involved with many website projects and based on my experience these are my top three criteria for selecting the right digital partner. Marketing knowledge, Content management System (CMS) options and system integration (SI) capabilities. If you can nail these three, then everything else should subsequently fall into place.
Designing a new website is the biggest marketing project your company will ever do. Naturally it is an IT project as well, however, the front end (the part you can see) should be built based on the marketing strategy of the company. Who are your customers, what are we trying to say to them, what actions are we trying to get them to perform? If this sounds like marketing 101 then you're right, because that is exactly what it is. Your website should be a visual representation of all of strategic marketing discussions, research and decisions regarding the brand and relevant target demographic(s). A website partner that can contribute to, if not lead these discussions, is imperative to ensuring effective strategic positioning for your brand. Ultimately, this is what will ensure that the website investment achieves a full return.
This may sound harsh but it is important that the website company you chose is not just a one trick pony. I see a lot of smaller website companies that use one only CMS (Content Management System) to build websites. The advantage of this is that the website company becomes very efficient in that particular system, but the downside is that this limits your options. It is human nature to recommend what we know and are familiar with. If the company only has one weapon of choice, then it’s a one size fits all situation. That is less than ideal. When a website company has more than one CMS option, they can make a recommendation based on your business requirements and best fit for your business.
The days of re-keying data to multiple systems are so 2016. SI (Systems Integration) is now a realistic option for both medium and small sized companies. This technology has evolved and is no longer restricted to large companies with big budgets. Even if you don’t need it now, as your business grows you may need to consider integrating data from your website to other systems such as accounting, CRM or email marketing. With SI your customers enter your data for you and it flows through the other systems to pre-defined end points automatically. Having a website company with this ability means that, as your business grows they will be able to facilitate your future requirements. This also means, that having spent time and resources building an effective working relationship with your website company, you can continue this relationship instead of having to start all over again with someone else.
For 2017 when researching companies to build your new website, make sure you select a company with skilled marketers on the team, more than one content management system to offer you and the skill set in house to provide system integration services when you need them. Following this advice will put your business in the optimal position for a successful website project. This in turn creates the foundation for a complete return on your investment and a long term, mutually beneficial relationship with your website company for many years to come.