Are you text ready?

Rushing never yields the same result as planning

One of my colleagues and I were recently discussing creating websites for our clients. She related the first question she usually asks her clients, “Are you text ready?” With her question she shows that she expects the clients to have done much of their planning when they come to her.

As a first step, we often focus on the client’s expectations for the site; customer experience, business and sales goals for the site and who will update the content. My colleague’s focus on “Do you have content?” is also one of our primary questions.

Planning pays off

Many of our clients want a website and they want it fast. We hope to have them hit the pause button for a bit so that they follow a careful, thoughtful planning process. Part of the planning process is understanding what you want to communicate and why. Ask yourself, “Who will be reading this copy?”  The next question you should ask yourself is, “Who will be writing our website’s copy?”

Many of our clients feel they are so familiar with their products and services that they can write their own copy. Some do an excellent job of writing their own copy, but many have difficulties.

If you are planning to write your own copy, here are a few things to consider:

  1. In the past, how successful have you been writing copy for your company newsletter or advertising? If you’ve struggled in the past, you may continue to struggle when taking on developing website content.
  2. Do you have the time? Time spent writing is time spent away from management, sales or doing the work you are most frequently paid to do.
  3. Do you know the core points you wish to make?
  4. Will your team members or staff help you write the copy?
  5. Do you have insights from your sales team to inform you of what customers are looking for?
  6. Have you researched your competitors to understand how to differentiate your company?
  7. Do you know what keywords are important to include so that you build in SEO from the start?

Some customers may balk at paying a professional copywriter for their services, but a professional is held accountable for their abilities and time. Instead of thinking you can just write something during your weekends, then struggling to write and ending up mad with yourself, use a professional copywriter. The expense is worth every penny.

Updating A Website: Making a Website Plan


They arrived full of hope

A group of open, smiling faces looked at me as I asked the question, “Has your website passed it’s sell by date?” We were gathered for a workshop sponsored by the Coastal Community Foundation in Charleston. Attendees were staff of non-profit organizations who were there to learn to plan or update their website so that it works well for their constituents and is true to the organization’s purpose.

All wanted better websites

Some in the group had crafted sites using free website builders like Wix and Google Sites. Some had outdated, legacy websites, created years ago by former staff or board members —built on platforms which shouted, “I’m from 1994.” Almost all of the sites had essential communications errors such as trying to cram too much onto a home page, or pages which lacked a purpose, or content that had not been updated in years.

Each one of these eager people were anxious to learn how they could take charge of their website so that the organization’s digital front door was welcoming and appealing. Each of them were working with limited budgets.

Planning time saves money

Over the course of our time together, everyone had “ah ha” moments about how they might improve their site. They all realized if they take the time to plan updates to their site, whether they work with website design / development professional or if they chose to go the DIY route, their planning will yield a lower cost, more user focused site that can support their organization’s goals.

As we worked together, I shared a presentation to help them work through some fundamental strategy questions and comprehend potholes, road blocks and missteps in planning, execution and design of a website.

Updating your website or planning a new site is not rocket science. All it requires is your focused time, comprehension of what your site visitors need and how you want to implement the site’s functionality. Your resulting strategy then yields insights that help you choose a template or theme or help a developer design your site. You just need to organize your thoughts and plan how each of your potential website visitors will use the site.

Start with:

  • Your website users
  • Figure out what each user needs or seeks that will prompt them to visit your site
  • Outline the functionality which will help each user get what they need

And then you plan your website content hierarchy so that every site visitor can navigate to what they need. Critical questions during your page content planning are three questions which address users’ needs:

  1. Where am I?
  2. What can I do here?
  3. Why should I care?

If each page addresses these questions, provides information and content designed to fulfill the specific requirements of that page’s audience and is true to your brand, you’ll have a winning site.

Download our tools to create a website plan:

If you find yourself stuck and not sure what to do to get a good website that works, give us a call.

Getting An Accurate Website Quote: What You Need to Prepare

So you’ve been tasked with getting a website quote for your company.  Where do you began?

Know your requirements

The process of developing a website is often compared to that of building a house. As with any construction project, you need to know what your requirements, budget and timeline are. You would not dream of going to a builder and saying, “Build me a house.” And in the same breath ask, “How much will that cost?” You would expect to specify the size, location, and materials for the structure before being able to know a price. Nor would you go to a builder and ask them to specify the house they want to build for you without providing them a budget. Yet, this is what many people do when asking for a new website.

In this post I’ll enumerate essential questions you need to have answered in order to work with a web designer and developer in order to gain a web site that achieves goals, creates leads, and provides conversions which lead to sales and new business.

Create a planning document

Every home design begins with a list of requirements. Every website should too. You must create a website brief which you can give to your potential website designer and developer. You can do this as a spreadsheet or word processing document. The format doesn’t matter, the content does.

As to the content, by writing down the answers to the following questions, you will create a through requirements document for your web developers. Now, if you don’t want to do this yourself, you can pay to have this created as the first part of your website’s development, but most don’t want to pay for planning, only execution. So, if you see yourself here, do the planning before asking for a quote.

Getting started

A crucial question every web developer and designer will ask you is, “What is the purpose of this website?” If you cannot answer this simple question you are not ready to build.

So many people focus on how a website looks above everything else that they forget that there is a business purpose behind it. You’re going to to be expected to provide answers to the classic questions:

  1. Who?  Are your website visitors? Who are your customers?
  2. What? Will they do when they reach your site?
  3. When? Will they seek information, services or products that lead them to your site?
  4. Where? Will you promote your website?
  5. Why? Are you creating a website? Why are your visitors here? Why will they trust you? Why will they buy from you?

Let’s examine each of these questions to comprehend the answers you will be expected to supply.


The world is not your customer.  Your customer is some subset of the population which seeks the products and services you are in business to sell.  You need to tell your web site designer about your customer.  We need to know what motivates your customer and what kind of lifestyle they enjoy.  We also need to know where they live or why they would shop on your site.


Knowing business purpose behind your website is critical to building a successful website conversion. You must know what you want your visitors to do when they reach your website.  Which path do you want them to take through your website?  Do you want them to read about your services?  Or do you want them to visit your online store? If you don’t know what actions you want your site visitor to take and the order in which you would like them to take these actions your site will not function as you wish.


Your business products and services fulfill your customer’s needs. So, what are the triggers which cause your prospective customer to take to Google to search for services? Knowing your customer’s motivations will allow your site’s content to meet the customer where their need begins. Having focused content also helps you show up well in search engine results.


Another critical element about which you will be questioned is, “how are you going to market your web site?” The most common ways people market or promote their website and thus their business include: social media, Google AdWords, blog post authorship (on their own and other’s blogs), and syndication of your website content to company pages in social media such as SlideShare, and LinkedIn.


Why should someone buy from you? Why should they pick up the phone or ask for a quote? Establishing trust and authenticity on your site is another important component to earning a customer’s business. Trust is established by a number of signals. Testimonials are one signal which demonstrates the esteem you’ve earned. Another is to list where your products are sold, which is especially important if your product is a consumer packaged food or beverage. If you have an ecommerce site, offering a guarantee statement is important. You can also amplify trust by offering badges or symbols highlighting the secure processing of payments.

Form and function

Now that you’ve gathered answers for these essential questions, you need to know your preferences for functionality, look and feel.

Start with what you like and what you don’t like about your current web site. Add to that examples of sites that you really like along with a list of the features and functionality in those sites that you find most attractive. Spend time reviewing your competitors’ websites and seeing what they have done that works or doesn’t work. Have some of your customers tell you want they look for in a website.

Wrap it up

Now that you’ve created a list of requirements, customer insights, and examined competitors, you should have a pretty fine set of directions for a prospective web developer. Now, when ask for a quote, you can provide your requirements and expect to gain a realistic quote.

Use our website planning document if you don’t want to create your own. Just be sure to answer all questions thoroughly in order to get a valid quote.