Welcome to the new face of AtreNet. We’re pleased to have you join us on this special day, as we step into a new era of business. Same old-fashioned values meet with new wave innovation, and a kick ass website! AtreNet is at your service – revamped and geared up to have a stellar 2012.
Our new site embodies the latest in web design and development trends, backed by solid infrastructure and state-of-the-art user interfaces. We’ve distilled AtreNet’s company culture into a whimsical, organic online persona, and we used our proven Rapid Relaunch process to do it.
I bet you’d like to know more… Check out our AtreNet Case Study! You’ll find the details of this project and related services. Save your stuff as you tour the site and contact us to chat about your next relaunch.
UNDERESTIMATING CONTENT DEVELOPMENT – Probably the most common challenge when redesigning a website is the development of web copy. Consider the level of resources and time for development, editing and approval, and then double it.
STAKEHOLDER ABSENCE – Website development suffers when approval cycles delay the momentum behind the project. This often happens when key stakeholders aren’t available.
FEEDBACK DRIP – The complexity of design and web functionality can create a wealth of valuable feedback, but critical comments can be lost when it is provided as streams of emails, phone calls and meetings. For critical components, aggregate and deliver feedback in a single comprehensive document.
SCOPE CREEP – When critical requirements are missed in the assessment phase of the project, major disruptions to timelines and budgets occur. The key to avoiding this is conducting thorough assessment of stakeholder requirements.
The homepage gets more views than any other page on your website and it represents your company’s face to the world. It plays a central role in presenting your company’s brand and guiding visitors through your website. Your homepage is so central to the redesign, requirements for the homepage design should be addressed in the kick off meeting with all the key stakeholders present. Be prepared to address the following questions:
- What are the pain points with the current home page?
- What is working on your current home page?
- What are the content priorities for the new home page?
- What are the strategic goals for the home page?
- How do your business objectives map to your home page goals?
Websites, like your business, are ongoing concerns. So don’t think of a redesign as ever completely done, rather just a significant evolution of your company’s web presence. When considering requirements for the current project it is important to consider future business initiatives, product lifecycles, and infrastructure requirements outside the scope of the current project. Designing a successful user experience that ties together the multiple product lines, customer segments, and solution messaging can unravel if two months after the redesign a major acquisition changes the whole equation. Significant product launches may be served if the new website’s information architecture is built to be extensible. Prior to the kick off meeting think about where you want your website to be in two years and be prepared to consider:
- Do you have plans for international expansion?
- Is there a major product launch on the horizon?
- Do you plan to add a forum, community, blog or other social media?
- Is there a desire to add a Content Management System?
Be prepared to describe the current website. This is an important part of the meeting and it will take some preparation to have all of the following information prepared.
Create a visual site map - A visual site map is a document that shows symbols for web pages and website sections and lines between the symbols that shows links between content.
It isn’t required to show every page of your website, but for the purposes of planning a visual site map is very helpful. You may simplify your visual site map by showing sections instead of individual pages where it makes sense.
Put your homepage at the top of the document and secondary pages (usually represented in your website’s main navigation) are organized on a lower line. There are a number of applications that can be very helpful when creating a visual site map, but even a piece of paper and pencil can get the job done. Popular tools for creating visual site maps include diagramming tools such as Visio and OmniGraffle, but for simple visual site maps PowerPoint will do in a pinch.
Review Website Infrastructure - Be prepared to review the website infrastructure with regards to the following items:
- Web platform (ex. LAMP, .NET, J2EE)
- Applications (ex. CRM, marketing automation, etc.)
- Custom scripting
- Hosted services
- Publishing systems (ex. CMS)
- Data center
- Web developer tools
Lead Generation - Be able to share what content on the site is restricted and what content is available to everyone. If there is content that requires a visitor to fill out a form or provide a password, be prepared to review in general terms the restrictions or permissions that are necessary to access content and where on the site this content resides.
Review History - Each website has its own legacy. How did the site evolve? Where are the pain points with the current website? What is currently working? Do you have any reporting such as website analytic reports or website surveys? How much traffic does your website see in a day? Are there any identifiable trends?
Prior to the meeting develop a thorough understanding of what new content will need to be created, and what existing content will be repurposed. Also identify what existing assets can inform or support the design process including, brand guidelines, image libraries, collateral and source design files. You should be prepared to answer questions such as:
- What percentage of content on the new site will be new?
- What existing content will be repurposed?
- What internal resources are available for writing, editing or reviewing new content?
As advanced as display technology has become, reading text on a computer screen is a discomforting experience when compared to the printed page. When reading an on-screen document, the user is forced to maintain a relatively fixed position. Though laptop computers and wireless devices have alleviated this problem to some degree, the fact remains that nothing has replaced simple hard copy documents for sheer ease-of-use and readability.
An effective content strategy should incorporate provisions for printable documents. There are basically two options for providing the user with the capability to view documents offline:
PDF documents can be viewed and printed on any platform that has the Acrobat reader plug-in. It is a portable format; the user can save the document or share it with others. The free Acrobat Reader has a very large installed user base (with more than 300 million copies of the software distributed worldwide, according to Adobe) and it is a format that is becoming ubiquitous on the web. To improve usability, PDF files should always be recognizable as such (through labeling and/or an associated PDF icon). This will allow users to choose whether to save or open the PDF, rather than forcing them into an abrupt transition from an HTML page into a PDF file. Your company may want to consider a streamlined template created for various document types:
- Product Literature
- Case Studies
- White Papers
- Comparison Charts
- Press Releases
Customers will appreciate the consistency and efficiency of these documents, and are more apt to download, print, and share with others. An additional advantage is that visitors may be willing to provide their contact information and Opt-in in exchange for this information.
A print-friendly web page is generally an alternative version of the page with only minimal elements of the site “wrapper”, and a column width for the text that will fit horizontally on a single page when printed (setting the content to 100% of the user’s browser will effectively wrap the text to the appropriate width for printing). This function can typically be fulfilled through CSS markups which define the format of a printed page. A “Print this Page” button is not needed, but might serve to reinforce the visibility of this option.
Be prepared to speak to your company’s brand qualities and attributes. What are customer’s perceptions of your corporate brand? What is the ideal perception? How do you segment your customers? Are there any persona based customer profiles that describe your target audience? Discussing brand can become an all-consuming topic on its own. To facilitate the kick off meeting focus on addressing the following topics:
- Strengths and vulnerabilities
Brand heritage and organizational values
Writing for B2B websites is a unique challenge. Every website we work with presents its own issues, but one common factor is that website visitors are demanding and in a hurry. The key to writing successful web copy comes from understanding that people don’t read websites like they do company collateral, books, newspapers and other traditional print media. B2B website usability testing studies have found that the average success rate across B2B websites was only 58%. Why? Part of the challenge is that corporate websites need to serve so many different audiences; prospects at different stages of the sales cycle; customers looking for support; other constituencies such as re sellers, press contacts, and investors. B2B websites often offer only superficial information or make finding critical information too difficult. Web copy must be intuitive, engaging and well organized to allow visitors to quickly identify the content that is tailored for them.
Mistakes to Avoid
Anyone writing for the web should strive to avoid creating skepticism, confusion or impatience. Incomplete product information or disordered comparison charts build skepticism in customers.
B2B customers detest marketing fluff or overly hyped language. Empty terms such as “cutting-edge”, “rigorous”, and “pushing the envelope” will create distrust. Providing too much content in long strings of paragraphs creates impatience in visitors who are searching for very specific words or phrases. Eye tracking studies show that when viewing a webpage our eyes skip over prose almost entirely searching for keywords within the webpage.
Visitors aren’t looking for long blocks of copy; they want it in bite-size chunks. Usability studies have shown that very few users (16 percent) actually read the text on a web page word-for-word. Rather, the vast majority of users scanned the content looking for keywords or phrases that either contained the information they wanted or possessed some relevance to their interest.
Poorly organized copy creates impatience and confusion in visitors and defeats the purpose of the website. Knowing how to organize content and write effective bullets is helpful to developing successful web copy.
It is likely the agency was chosen because they have some track record of success serving your market segment or industry. Yet, it is also important for the agency to understand your market from your company’s perspective. What is your company’s position within the market? What differentiates you from your competition? What are your marketing challenges?
Also, being able to speak to your competition’s web presence and what you like or dislike is hugely informative for web developers. It is also helpful if you can identify comparative websites from outside your competition that convey the attributes or sensibilities you want your website to exhibit after the redesign. Be prepared to:
- Present market overview
- Identify competitive company’s websites
- Identify comparative company’s websites