April 27, 2021

Creating a Website Strategy: How to Understand my Company's Needs

By Tayler Patterson, Web Project Manager

Redoing elements of your website can be stressful, and often design and development agencies want to sell their highest package, with little regard to what the specific company needs are. We find that businesses come to us asking for a completely new website when all they need is a website refresh to meet their marketing goals. Understanding different website strategy starting points will help you feel confident in the direction you take with your website updates.

These strategies are high-level starting points that should reflect your most basic needs. Sitemap, buyer's journey, and the overall website architecture should be addressed in more detail no matter what path you take. Instead of going for a completely new site, take a look at the four options below.

website strategy

Website strategy options

If you want to change your website, there are many routes to take. Before you begin interviewing agencies, try to get a sense of what you need (and, more importantly, what you don't). We typically break website projects down into four categories.

  • Refresh
  • Rebrand
  • Overhaul
  • New brand

While this is not an all-encompassing list, it will provide you with a good starting point and help identify any red flags if someone is pitching you something you don't need. 

Website Refresh

A website refresh is a great choice for businesses who frequently update their website and are generally happy with the content and messaging presented to their target audience. If you have content in a great place but now feel like the website design doesn't match the level of professionalism or curation of their content, then a fresh might be right for you.

  • The strategy here is to dig in and see what elements of the content are engaging users and create visuals to support that. 

  • Branding materials such as logos, fonts, and colors generally stay the same for a refresh, with maybe introducing a new secondary color to help highlight CTAs or important information.

  • This approach may require the company to re-platform their website if their current website isn't built flexibly or uses a theme that is no longer supported but isn't a requirement if updates are possible.

Rebrand

A website rebrand is a great approach for a company that does not update its content or visual style often, if ever, and now realizes its offerings are completely outdated. 

  • The strategy here is to start by understanding what messaging is missing from the current website and eliminating any content that is no longer relevant.

  • Branding materials often get updated, the logo may stay the same, but fonts, colors, and visuals are often changed to match a new direction.

  • This approach almost always requires a re-platform of the website. The company generally doesn't like their current CMS system, and the difficulty of using it kept them from ever making changes. 

Overhaul

This website approach often feels like a rebrand, but an overhaul may be suggested if you like little to nothing about your current website. This can also be common if there is a dramatic change in leadership, a merger with another company, or a complete pivot in the offerings. 

  • The strategy here is to start by understanding where the brand is now and really dig into what's not working and where it is beginning to fall apart. This will help you set measurable and attainable goals for a new website. Often, the client may not realize they have gaps in understanding the website process or web presence and want to make sure you start with that education.

  • Branding materials will often start this design process instead of a homepage design, going through mood boards for logos, colors, fonts, and visual style. 

  • This approach will use a re-platform and should be considered carefully for ease of use. One platform may be able to offer more technically, but there may be a learning curve. 

New Brand

This one is pretty self-explanatory! If you are a new product or service and do not have a web presence or identity, this is your starting point. Make sure you start with a flexible content management platform with room to grow because you don't need everything from day one. 

  • The strategy here is to define the brand look and feel and understand who the products/services are targeted to. You don't need a ton of pages for launch, just a well-developed website that answers consumers' questions and provides the desired conversion point. 

  • Branding materials will need to be created; if they are being done in-house or with another agency, the website should not be started until those are complete. 

  • This approach will need a flexible website platform that gives the company lots of room to grow and complete management control. 

Agency partners are perfect for carrying out marketing initiatives and supporting design and development services a company may not have in-house. Still, it is essential stakeholders learn more about the website strategy and process. This empowers companies to be active decision-makers in their online presence and have a positive relationship with their agency partners. 

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