The Biggest Mistake Small Businesses Make on Website Redesign

These design considerations are incredibly important and can make the difference between generating a steady stream of leads and sending folks straight to the competition. Unfortunately, our focus on great design can turn into tunnel vision and mean that an equally important component -- content -- gets left behind.
09/16/2016 01:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Image credit: Photodune

Let's face it: when designing a new website, it's the design that takes center stage:

What image should be featured on the home page?

Which colors and fonts look great and will drive visitors to take action?
Where should the call-to-action button be placed and should it say "Learn More" or "Get Started"?

These design considerations are incredibly important and can make the difference between generating a steady stream of leads and sending folks straight to the competition. Unfortunately, our focus on great design can turn into tunnel vision and mean that an equally important component -- content -- gets left behind. Suddenly, your days from site launch and rushing to fill the homepage or services page with copy as quickly as possible. That's a huge mistake.

There's more to content strategy than considering which articles to post on your site's blog or when to publish your next eBook or white paper. Without impactful content and a clear content strategy in place from day one, your new website is destined to fall short of its lead generation and conversion goals.

As a digital strategist, I've had countless clients confess that their website content was pulled together in a mad rush to get something - anything -- on the site in time for the big launch. Many of these folks planned to go back and refresh their web content with better brand messaging, but despite their best intentions, the job never gets done. When I start working with clients, they're eager to talk inbound marketing strategies and PPC campaigns. But before we can get the ball rolling on these marketing efforts, the website content needs to be improved.

Recently, I read a fantastic article from the team at Temok talking about this very problem:

"Often the coding, colors, and designs take center stage in the website design process, and the copy gets pushed farther down the list of priorities. While the content may be one of the last things developed, it should be one of the highest quality things on your site - not something you slapped together to fill a page you spend quite a bit of time and money developing."

I could not agree more. In the spirit of Temok's article, I've put together a checklist for my clients to help with web content strategy and production before site launch. Here's what you need to do now to position your site for long-term success:
  1. Start with a competitive analysis. What are your points of differentiation from the competition? Before writing web content, you need a clear understanding of the current marketplace and where your business is positioned within this landscape, so you know how to differentiate your company on your website. A competitive analysis covers your company's top competitors, competitor product summaries, competitor strengths and weakness, and the general market outlook. How does the competition talk about their services and business vision on their websites? What best practices can you steal and what mistakes should be avoided? While you may have already completed a basic competitive analysis as part of your initial business plan, this competitive analysis should focus specifically on your competitors' websites and digital strategy.

  • Create a brand profile. Now that you know how your company stacks up against the competition, it's time to hone in on some concise and powerful brand language. If you have not done so already, create a short brand "cheat sheet" the covers key messaging essential, such as you vision statement, mission statement, a short description (a one to two sentence elevator pitch) and a long description (five to six sentences). Spend time refining these messages and pay careful attention to word choice. These messages will form the basis for your company's description on your website. Not sure how to talk about your business? This no-fluff guide to writing client-attracting content is a great starting point.
  • Tell your story. Your company's 'about us' page is your introduction to the world. It tells customers what your business stands for and gives an overview of products, strategies, and services. Your mission here is simple: tell a great story, rather than listing out a series of facts. How is your business changing the world? Why should customers care about your company? Finally, keep in mind that your profile should continue to organically evolve as your company grows. You'll want to revisit the content even after site launch to keep it fresh and up-to-date. Struggling with how to get started? Here's a great guide that includes examples from industry leaders like Google, Blurb, Philips and Zappos.
  • Bottom line:

    Great website content that connects and converts isn't a happy accident. It's the result of smart, planning, competitor research, and careful wordsmithing. Even if you've already launched your website, it's not too late to make content changes. If your content doesn't move your audience to action, it's time for you to take action to improve it!