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Last week we started on a new project for an old client (well, the client’s not old – he’s in his late 30s – but we first worked with him a long time ago).

Anyway…we’re redesigning his website.

We met last week to start the planning phase of the project. This is probably the most important part of a web design project, because everything else runs off the back of it. If you get the planning wrong (or worse, don’t even do it), the whole project is basically screwed.

At our meeting, we got talking about what we wanted from the new site, and by extension what was wrong with the existing one.

Here’s what we came up with;
1. The original site’s been around for about six years, so it was looking pretty dated. This reflects badly on the company.
2. The site’s got a bit out of control where new pages and content have been added over the years. It looks messy, it’s hard to find anything, and the main message isn’t clear.
3. The content on the site no longer reflects what they do as a business.
It’s this last point I’m particularly interested in.

Most businesses change significantly over a two- or three-year period. Some even sooner than that. But for nearly everyone, we find after those two to three years, things look significantly different.

Sizes of businesses change. New people join the team, whilst others move on. New products are developed, and different types of projects are completed. You might have become specialised in a certain area, or dropped other disciplines that are no longer profitable or relevant.

Even if you’re diligent at keeping your website up-to-date, at this point the structure and design of the site will need to be changed to properly reflect who you are as a business and, more importantly, where you’re heading.

The mistake we see most businesses make is in judging their website against their needs now, and in the recent past. When you look at it like this, it’s easy to brush over the issues because you see them against your legacy – how you used to be.

Your website should be positioning you for where you want to go. What you should be doing is judging your site against that.

Here’s a quick exercise you can do to test whether your site reflects you as a business;
1. Think about what you want to achieve in the next 12 months.
2. Jot down what your business will look like at this point: What will you be selling, and how much? Who will you be selling it to – who are your ideal customers? Which areas do you want to focus on, and which do you want to drop? If you’re struggling to make this list, we need to talk 🙂
3. Read through your list and memorize the key points
4. Go to your website’s home page
5. Imagine yourself as one of your ideal customers (these are the people your website should be for, after all – no-one else really matters)
6. What’s the main message you get from the home page about what the business sells? Does it match your written list?
7. What are the top-level menu items – do these match the areas you want to focus on?
If you’re seeing some issues, that’s all you need to know for now. You don’t need to start figuring out what the new site structure should be. You just need to know it’s something that needs to be addressed.

This exercise only takes about 20 minutes, but it will be time well spent. At the end of it you’ll have a clear idea as to whether it’s time to think about a new website.

Tomango is a brand, web design and digital marketing agency based just outside Ringmer.

If you think your website’s no longer doing a very good job of getting your message across, give Managing Director Mark Vaesen a call on 01273 814019 or get in touch via our website for a chat and to find out how we can help.