Planning Your Site
We suggest defining objectives and creating a plan for your website before you start editing your webpages. This plan may have distinct phases that are implemented sequentially as your business capabilities grow. Your initial plan should identify key messages (purpose) of the site, general navigation, security requirements, and layout (background, imagery, and visual style). Your plan will be a valuable asset as the site is developed and is particularly critical if multiple individuals will be involved in the process.
Planning Best Practices
- Build the site to service the needs of the targeted stakeholder groups (customers, etc.).
- Start simple – then build internet functionality as your business grows.
- Focus on navigation and static content before developing content that requires regular updates.
- Ensure core content (Site purpose & key messages) is internally understood and agreed to.
- Commit resources to plan & develop the site content (estimate effort and reserve time).
- Plan how you will organize your web resources (photos, graphics, PDF attachments, etc.).
- Identify sources of images and start compiling an image library (stock photos or take your own).
- Define “content domains” and assign accountability to individuals responsible for the content.
- Define Contact Groups & Security Zones to match your sales and CRM processes.
- Plan sustainability into the site’s design – how will it be maintained in 12 - 24 months?
A new ShoutCMS site is configured using default CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) templates that define the font styles, colours, background, and layout of your site. A CSS Override template is provided in the Setup area where experienced designers can can customize the particular look and feel of your website design. This template can be changed or altered before or after your have built your site. We recommend using the default settings while experimenting with creating pages. Once familiar, you can use the theme picker to change the overall style of your site.
Building a site that nobody sees is not good business. Your website is only one component of an effective internet strategy. Strategies to promote your site and attract readers are as important as designing the content on the site. There are several ways to attract inbound views including:
- Word of mouth and direct sales - including telephone and direct mail/email
- Traditional promotion including print and media
- Internet promotion including search engine optimization
- Social media integration
- Search Engine Marketing using Ad words and other internet advertising
ShoutCMS includes internal tools to configure search engine text, social widgets, and print-friendly URLs. Best practices suggest developing core branding messages on a web-site that is simple and to the point, and then extend the site to address the needs of your target markets as they engage your business during sales and product support activities.
All branding and outbound communications should promote visits to your site. A central repository of information (your website), supported by self-service transactions is cost effective and substantially easier to maintain than a strategy that incorporates multiple repositories. “Satellite” sites (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) should be kept to a minimum and be treated as advertising that encourages visits to your website and your (physical) store.
Building Content that “Converts”
In sales, “conversion” refers to the process of convincing a buyer to take action. The type of action will depend where the buyer is in the sales process. It could be as simple a reviewing an important document or as important as the final “Buy” commitment when on the shopping cart.
Conversion strategies depend on your organization. In general, conversion involves creating awareness, enhancing knowledge of your products and services, and engaging your services through online and traditional channels. Conversions can be measured through:
- Monthly page views and visit length (a measure of awareness)
- Participation through forum posts, surveys, and page ranking
- Form submissions (requests for information)
- Contact by email or telephone
- Online purchases
Your communications and sales plans should support existing and potential customers who will use your site. When they reach the site, what information will prompt the actions that your business desires? (make a call, complete a form, or buy a product). Measuring conversion should be part of your internet and channel strategy.