We are Christina and Peter Pilarski, founders and leaders of CIPR Communications.
In the seventh series of our podcast, Two Babies and a Business, we turn our attention to web development. As a digital marketing agency, we know that your website is the focal point of all your online marketing efforts. Not all digital marketing agencies offer website design and website maintenance services, but we have always felt that it is vital for us to include this complex, sometimes difficult, often exciting work in what we do. Through the 13 episodes of this podcast series, we discuss web development from every angle, telling you all you need to know to choose the best web designer and to get the most out of your website.
In our early days of working in PR and marketing, we talked to so many clients who had had bad experiences with web designers. In addition, these bad experiences made it difficult for us to do our work. We always describe a website as a company’s house. All other tactics are directions that you use to help people get to your home. In so many cases, we found ourselves trying to execute all these directing tactics – PPC, SEO, content marketing, social media, etc. – only to discover that we didn’t even have the keys to the house. After that lightbulb moment, we decided to get involved with the development and improvement of our clients’ websites.
There are two ways to approach website design: conversion-focused and creative-focused. The easiest way for us to explain the difference is to talk about “the colour and location of the button.” A creative-focused designer is interested in where to place a button – or other visual elements – on the page for the best aesthetic effect. It is a question of where it will look best, and what colour and shape it ought to be in order to best please the eye. The conversion-focused designer is interested in exactly the same elements, but is more concerned with how they should be placed to facilitate the movement of visitors through the buyer’s journey. Of course, the two approaches are not mutually exclusive; it is a question of where you put your focus.
Learn more about the two approaches to website design in the second episode of our podcast series on web development.
Having outlined the distinction between conversion-focused and creative-focused web development, we explain the approach we take – and why. Not surprisingly, we take a conversion-focused approach. The reason we concentrate on conversions when building a website for a client is really quite simple: this is what most of our clients need. When clients come to us, it is usually because they want to increase sales, which means they need a platform that helps them to generate and convert leads. As a marketing agency, our primary purpose is to help our clients meet their business goals. We implement a variety of long-term tactics to enable this. For all of those tactics to be successful and effective, a conversion-focused website must be in place.
Listen to our full explanation about our website design methodology in Episode 3 of our podcast series on web development.
How do we implement our conversion-based approach to website creation? Like so much of the work we do, the answer involves the application of a carefully thought-out process. There are three main phases in our web design process. First, we workshop the site, involving our team and all relevant staff members on the client’s side. Then, we create a site map and plan the content for its various pages. Finally, we dive into the development process, going through a round of rigorous internal edits before showing our work to the client and reworking and tweaking the design until we are ready to launch.
Find out more about our web development approach in the fourth episode of our latest podcast series.
A site map is a vital step in the process of planning and designing a website. Some people may overlook the site map because it isn’t particularly exciting. If you are creative-focused, you may not realize its importance. It is mechanical because it needs to be in order to help you make a website that is optimized for UX and SEO. It is also a great exercise for you as you think about your website because it forces you to think about what you are signalling to your customers: what is most important in your online communications? What is your order of priorities, and how do you structure your product and service offerings?
Listen to our full explanation of how to draw up a site map in the fifth episode of our podcast series on web development.
Throughout our web design process, the emphasis is on content. Content is the fundamental consideration when it comes to designing your site. Put simply, content is everything. Many companies have a tendency to underestimate the value of content, and the amount of content they need to populate a website and communicate effectively with their audiences. If you are going to build a website that will successfully meet your business goals, you have to plan the site around the content – not the other way around. We go one step further than generating a sitemap at the outset. We create a content architecture – a blueprint that plots out each page on the basis of its intended content.
In the sixth episode of our podcast series on web development, you can find out why it is so important to keep your content in mind as you plan your new website.
There are plenty of people out there offering web design services. As you look for the right one to build your website, you need to have a set of criteria to guide your choice. A strong process, a great content creation team and good project management skills are among the attributes we look for in a designer. Listen to our full list of criteria in Episode 7 of our latest podcast series.
When you begin a website build, there are many potential costs that you may not be aware of until they arise. We always do our best to inform clients of all the costs they can expect as they build and launch their new site, and even going forward as they run and maintain it.
Listen to Episode 8 of our latest podcast series to get a full picture of all the costs involved with web design.
The decision of when to launch a website is a delicate one. There are several points you should consider as you plan your launch and set the date. You also need to remember that a website launch is not so much an event as a process. Aside from remembering not to undertake any major marketing campaigns during the initial launch, you must also be prepared to monitor the site’s performance and make adjustments as you go.
Listen to our advice on how and when to launch your website in Episode 9 of our podcast series on web development.
There are web designers out there who take a controlling approach to their clients’ websites, refusing to hand over passwords, and insisting that the client go to them for even the smallest fixes and adjustments. We believe that your website is your asset and that you should have complete control over it. We are here to help you create the site and help you maintain it if you want us to, but other than that, it is yours, and you should hold all the keys.
In Episode 10 of our podcast series on web development, we explain why you should always seek out a web designer who will hand the reins of your website to you once it is ready to launch.
Once you have had a website built and launched, should retain the services of a web developer for ongoing maintenance? Website maintenance is crucial for your business, and it is worth your while to have someone on call to manage it for you. If you don’t have regular maintenance done on your website, you run the risk of your site not running properly or even going down. Getting it up and running again can be costly in terms of both the necessary repairs and potential lost business.
Find out why you should regard website maintenance services as indispensable – listen to Episode 11 of our latest podcast series.
Maintenance is not enough. In order to keep with technological advances and remain competitive, you need to commit to incremental upgrades and improvements to your website. In the 12th episode of our latest series of Two Babies and a Business, we explain the importance of constant improvement and always moving your website and digital marketing work forward.
One of the advantages of digital marketing is that it is measurable. With the various metrics and analytical tools at your disposal, you can really see where your marketing spend is going. You can see which of your tactics are working and which ones might need to be worked on or discontinued. In the area of web design, the best tool for this purpose is a website quality audit. Find out what these audits are and what they can do for you in the final episode of our latest podcast series.
Find out more about CIPR Communications’ approach to web design services by listening to the seventh series of our podcast. For more information about website quality audits, as well as all other aspects of web development, from site maps to website design and more – as well as content marketing, SEO and other services – read our blog, listen to our other podcast episodes, or contact us.