Our job at Wood Street is to build websites that are ideal for our clients and their audience. We have processes in place that help make this possible.

However, and we understand this, the clients don’t know what we know. They’re afraid that they will not be able to accurately describe to us what they want.

website ideas

The good news is that, 9 times out of 10, they are over-thinking things. We don’t need them to speak our language. And we certainly don’t expect them to.

What we need to know is the website’s story of success.

So, what might you need from your web design firm? Here’s a list of possibilities:

  • A completely new website
  • An update/new functionality for your website
  • Increased traffic to your website
  • A better conversion rate for your website

Seems simple. Now, let’s break this out into what we often hear related to these needs:

  • “I need a new website”
  • “I need a couple of changes made to my website”
  • “My SEO is terrible, I need more traffic”
  • “I have great traffic but no one contacts me”

And these are almost inevitably followed by “how much?” and/or “how long?”

See the problem? How can we possible estimate cost or time without more details? We can’t. We need more.

But, what? What do we need from you?

Hopefully this breakdown will help improve your communications with your web designer…

Completely New Website

A website can be anything from a one page simple site all the way to a database driven, responsive website, with web service calls, localization, and on and on.

There is a big middle area here and chances are your new site falls in there somewhere.

What we need to know at this point are the who, what, why, where, and how:

  • Who is this website for? Describe your target audience.
  • What is this? Is it an eCommerce site, a portal, a basic site? What is it’s intended purpose?
  • Why would this audience want to visit your site? What makes this site unique?
  • Where will the traffic come from? This applies to the demographics of your audience as well as the devices on which the site is viewed.
  • How do you measure success? Is it traffic? Sales?

Understanding these things will help us to walk you through what functionality you need.

You might already know what features you want your website to have. Great! But, it still helps us to know the answers to the questions above.

We want to advise you on the best solution. And this is the information we need to make that happen.

Updates to Your Website

Simple edits aside, I’m really referring to major updates to your existing website. For these, what we really need to know is the why.

Not because you need to convince us to make the update, but because we need to understand what the goals are in order to come up with the best solution.

These would be the questions we need answered:

  • What is the update in your own words?
  • What is the purpose of the update? What are you trying to accomplish?
  • Do you have what’s needed ready or is this in the planning stage?

Pretty simple really. But, having this information makes the process quicker. We have what we need to give you an estimate and you have a thought out plan for the updates you want to make.

Increased Traffic to Your Website

What we’re really talking about here is SEO and ultimately content marketing. We gets lots of request for better traffic. But, what does that really mean?

Are you looking to simply increase the numbers? You might think so but I would caution against this.

You don’t just want visitors, you want the right kind of visitors. You want potential clients.

So, how do you get these types of visitors? First, you have to know them and know what they need from you.

Are you giving them this in the content of your website?

Before telling me you need more traffic, try looking at the following:

  • How are you currently updating your website content? What updates are you making? How often? Do these updates matter to your target audience? Really?
  • What is your ongoing content strategy? Do you blog? About what? Is it useful to your target audience?
  • How are you sharing this content (and other useful content not on your site) with your target audience? How are they responding to it? Are they responding to it?

Before you obsess over website traffic, I would highly recommend reading Youtility by Jay Baer. In it, he talks about shifting your focus to the needs of your target audience.

Instead of obsessing over numbers, you should obsess over people.

Make it your mission to build and maintain a website with a content strategy that focuses on the needs of your audience.

As Ann Handley put it when I asked her to sum up her book, Content Rules, in one sentence:

“What marketing will my customer thank me for?”

Do you see the power in that question?

Your content is so good that the visitor wants to thank you for it. Not only do you have a potential client, but also a huge fan… who shares your stuff.

All of this builds the right kind of traffic.

Yes, there are lots of other more technical things you can do to your site to improve the SEO. But, none of that will be effective unless you know your audience and know what they want from you.

So, before you tell me you need more traffic, go back through this exercise. Then, tell me how you want to get more great content to your audience.

You Have Lots of Traffic But Few Sales

What we’re dealing with here is called conversion, or a lack thereof. Conversion means that someone saw a call to action on your site and acted on it.

A lack of conversion could be the result of a few issues:

  1. The traffic you have is bad, see above.
  2. You have good traffic but the site is not designed or built for them.
  3. You’re simply not “asking for the sale.”

Number 1 is covered above.

For the second point, the issue could be the result of a poor design that drives traffic away. Or your site is not responsive, meaning it doesn’t function well on all devices like mobile and tablet devices.

The third point seems so simple but is often overlooked. We spend so much time dancing around this with fancy content, beautiful designs, and all sorts of bells and whistles.

But seriously, why not just ask for something. It can be that simple…

  • Want someone to fill out a form? Ask them.
  • Want someone to join your newsletter? Ask them.
  • Want someone to buy something? BUY NOW!

Don’t get in the way of the website goal. What do you want them to do? Is it easy and obvious? If not, we will help you figure out how to make it so.

So, How Do You Tell a Web Design Firm What You Want?

Know the why. Know the goal of what you want to ask:

  1. Need a New Website? No, you need a new website that does XXX for YYY.
  2. Need changes to your website? No, you need it to do XXX for YYY, because of ZZZ.
  3. Need more traffic? No, you need better traffic.
  4. Need more conversions? No, you need to get out of their way.

I hope this helps you to have a better and more productive relationship with your web design vendor… and this relationship turns into lots of money, contacts, awareness, whatever the goal might be.

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.