What Website Material Do You Need?
You need to plan your website pages and sections i.e. make a list of the pages and sections that you want on your website - then plan the material you want on each page. You can go through this with your web design company. Think about your 'average' website visitor - what material will they need to find on your website in order to see you as a good company to buy from? What format does that information have to be in: video, photos, text, downloadable brochure, reviews from happy previous clients?
Organise Your Content Into Sections
A good plan for your website, and a way to save time and money too, is to make a folder on your PC for the entire website and into that project folder put sub-folders for each page in your website. Into each page sub-folder you can then put the images, text, video, pdfs, word documents, photos, downloadable material and 'calls to action' needed for that page. You should include 'notes' about the page too e.g. include links that this page needs to have and where those links will lead to, make a note of content that this page will need to have shortly and include notes about what this page is supposed to do or who the page is aimed at. When your website starts to grow in size this level of organisation will be essential.
If your website is going to have a large number of pages and sections from the start then you will definitely need to be organised with your website material or else the whole content gathering process will never end and will end up going around in circles because of the lack of organisation. The above folder system works because it's organised. You will also need to be organised for the website development team that you're working with. They will need you to have your content arranged so that they can see what content is to go on what page. If it's just a big folder of images, text and 'stuff' then it will be near impossible to build a website from that and costs will go up as a resultand the project will be delayed.
Try To Get A Few People Working On The Content
Content gathering is a very important job but it can be made into an overly tough job if you do it on your own so try and get colleagues or friends/family to help out. They can also see things that you don't see - maybe you've chosen a few unusual photos for a particular web page - a fresh pair of eyes could spot that before your website visitors do. Also, 2, 3 extra minds will also be able to better consider what your customers need on the website. Each page may need different content.
An expensive piece of machinery may need: user manual, technical specifications, video of the machine running, testimonials from past clients, offer of a free demo of the machine, "get us to call you back" box etc. Where as a customer support page may just need to have detail on what you will actually do for the customer if their machine breaks down - and maybe have all of that on a downloadable PDF document so they can give it to their colleagues, or print it off and compare it with other offers at a board meeting.
Who Is My Target Market?
If you have sold some products/services in your industry before then you know your target market segments? Divide up your market into a few sectors - you decide what the divisions are. Then look at those different target markets and consider if they are really separate and do you want to market to them in a different way?
Draw up a profile of each of these targets and then you and your team can decide how you will target them and what material they will need to have available to them on your website. You might even have different web pages specifically for those different market segments. You need to have a feel for the customer and the industry to make this decision.
What Will My Customers Need To See In Order To Choose Us?
If you know your products and services then you'll know what website material will be needed to best sell them. Your options for website material are large e.g. video, downloadable and printable pdf, photo gallery, testimonials, full web shop, technical specifications, user manual, service packages.
Think about your last 20 customers - what 'material' did they need from you over the full sales cycle? Is there any other material that they could have needed in order to make the buying decision in your favour? This is the material you need for each product page or service page. The web page is the internet sales person and you need to give each page the tools they need to sell to the website visitor.
Prices On My Website
Should i include prices on our website or not? The answer is: it depends. What are your competitors doing? Do you want to do the same as them or be different? If none of your competitors are showing prices then it won't look out of place if you don't either. But you could be a market leader for a while if you did display some prices. You could display prices for mass market products and not display them for specialised products. Chat with colleagues and friends in the industry and you'll have a better idea of what will work for your website, but keep an eye on your competitors to see what your industry is doing generally.
You Need Good Photos
The photos you choose, to a large extent, will decide what your website looks like. You need good photos and you might already have most of the photos you need. If you a have a supplier or a few suppliers they will often have a photo cd that they can give to you with your product photos on it. Equally, photos taken yourself with a good camera where your products are in good light etc could be ideal. A two hour photo shoot with a good photographer would be another excellent solution and this can be very affordable if you have your products organised. Your web design company will have a few photographer recommendations for you.
You could also consider buying some stock photos from a stock photo website like www.bigstockphoto.com . These are photographer quality photos for around $2 each and are ideal for website use as you see the photo full screen photo before you buy it. Where ever you get your photos make sure you have permission to use them. You can't go to the web or google images and download any photos you see, because you don't have the permission or license to use them.
Inspect Your Competitors Websites
You have already seen your competitor's websites but now do a more clinical inspection. If you can pair up with a colleague or two to do this it would be better. Look objectively at a few premium competitor websites and make a note of what they offer to their website visitors in terms of content and website experience, and make a note of how appealing the website and web pages are. Are the sites smart phone friendly? Do the pages load quickly?
Maybe draw up a table where the same objective analysis is done on each website and then the same is either done to your current website or to the plans you have for your new website. Be totally objective here and you will have good visibility of who is the best in your industry in different areas and where you need to improve. The competitor sites might even give you ideas for content or features that you hadn't thought of before.
Remember: You Don't Need Everything On Day One
Remember that you don't need every single paragraph perfect and every single photo gathered in order to get an amazing website live. You will have a content management system to edit any text that needs an edit or photo gallery that needs another photo. A website is an ever changing medium so getting every single piece of material perfect on day one is not possible and it is good to know that. Once the website is built you will have an easy to use CMS (Content Management System) to make those changes in minutes, and it's sometimes easier to make those final adjustments to a website once you see it 95% completed in front of you.
Use A Document Sharing System
When working with others on your website content it's very useful to have a 'central repository' for all your web material rather than having it on one person's PC. You could try Google Drive or Dropbox, unless you have a shared network drive in your office already that you're happy to share documents on.
The good thing about dropbox is you can have "infinite past versions" - so every time someone makes an edit to a document it is stored on the dropbox system and you can see these older versions of the file in case someone accidentally deleted a file or even deleted text on a file.
What Devices Are They Using?
Use your website statistics or google analytics to see what devices your website visitors are using and plan your content around that. If you see that 50% of your website visitors are on smart phones , for example, then you need to spend more time thinking of the smart phone user. With smart phones it's not just the screen size that's very different - the download speeds can be very different too as they are often away from a Wifi broadband connection ad using 3G or Edge which are much slower.
Overall, be organised with the folders mentioned above for each page, and if possible do the work with a few colleagues as that will complete the job in a shorter time frame and allow a few heads to inspect the material and spot any issues or errors. If you're having any website content gathering issues call your web design company of call us on 01-6216866 in Dublin.