Understanding the business is vital to being able to build an effective website. We'll take you through all the important questions you need to ask your client before you begin to strategize your website.
Welcome to Chapter 2 of this series on building a highly converting website.
Before we get into this episode, let me tell you what this chapter is all about. In this chapter, we’re going to set a foundation for how you understand websites and how you build them. Interestingly, the foundation to building a great website has nothing to do with the actual website but has everything to do with the company or brand itself. We’re going to talk about brands, their business ,and their sales.
More importantly, we’ll talk about their people or target audience as they call it - the needs of these people and how we can think about fulfilling them. Now, you might just ask the question, why do we need to go into these fundamentals. Why can’t we just get straight to the good stuff.
Well, we want you to get your hands dirty with building websites right away and we’ll get to that soon enough. But the reason you’re here learning how to build a website with us at Lancify Learn and not some 15-year old kid on Youtube is because you wanna know how websites are built well.
You wanna build websites that actually work and well..make money for your future clients. So for your sake, for the sake of your future client we’re focussing this episode on teaching you some fundamentals. We are going to start by understanding businesses.
As a freelancer, you’re going to encounter a pretty large variety of businesses and no two are the same. You’ll come across businesses with different kinds of products and services, different audiences and even different business models. Some businesses sell only offline, some only online and some do both. Some businesses have simple products and offerings and some are more complex.
And then there are businesses like www.rentthechicken.com that will literally rent you a chicken. How does it work? Is it a subscription model? What happens if the chicken runs away? If it gives birth, who keeps the chicks? All things that need to go on their website!
Anyways, the point is, as a website architect, you are going to have a whole variety of businesses approach you to get their websites built and you are going to need to understand the business well enough to build this highly effective website. You will need to understand the nature of the business, what the company stands for, what it's selling, and who it's selling to. You need to understand the specific pain points that the business is solving, who it's customers are, how the business is getting its leads and how to do these leads or customers normally engage with the brand.
Now, to make this simple, we’ve put together a few key points you need to know while working on a website project.
What is the brand's history, vision, and mission -
In order for you to really understand the brand's needs, you need to get the brand's history, it's story, and how it has grown so far. Understanding the history of the brand will give you context of where they’ve been, what has worked for them and what has not, and the various challenges and barriers they may have faced. You will also need to understand where the brand is headed. That is what we call vision. All marketing including the website development has to tie into the brand's short term and long term goals which is where the vision comes in. Once you have a grasp on the history of the brand and where the brand is headed, you want to understand how the brand plans on getting there. That's the mission. It details out all the different things the brand is going to do in order to get to its destination. When you sit down with a business owner and discuss these things, you’ll find out different aspects of their business that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Who are the brand's target audience -
Great marketing always begins and ends with the audience they’re serving. So in order for you to build websites that truly serve people, you would need to first understand the audience. Getting clarity on who the different target audiences are will help you make important design and content decisions when you’re building the website.
Think about it. A website that sells premium sneakers for teenagers will probably look very different from a website that handles taxes for large companies, right? Breaking down the target audience is an important step for anyone building a website. Take the time to talk to the business owner you’re working with to really understand their audience. What kind of people do they see buying from them? What are their age groups, location, interests. Now, this isn’t going too deep but it will be a great starting point for you.
What is the brand identity?
Every good business will have a unique identity of its own. It will be unique in the way it looks, the way it talks and the way it behaves. That uniqueness needs to be translated onto its website.
If all shoe brands had a website that looked exactly the same you wouldn’t be able to separate one from the other. Smart brands will have well defined and documented guidelines on how their brand must look and sound like. And if the brand already has these guidelines in place, it makes your job of building a website that much easier.
However, most brands that you work with won't have a clue of what their actual brand identity is. This means when you begin working with a business, building an understanding of the brand and its identity will be so important in creating a unique website.
Here are a few questions you may want to ask the business owner or their team to really get a grasp of their brand identity:
What is the brand's personality? Simply ask them- if their brand was a person, what would it be like? Based on their answers, you’ll be able to come up with a few keywords that best define their personality. These keywords are extremely useful when it comes to making design decisions on the website.
What is the brand's tone like? Is it technical or simple? Is it very bold or quite conservative? Is it passionate or rather understated? Again, narrowing down the tone of the brand to a few keywords will really help as you write website copy and content.
What is the brand message?
How do you introduce the brand in say one line, 3 lines or perhaps a whole paragraph. Now, you might need the business owner to help you get all this information but it will really help you create a world-class website.
4. How does sales happen?
If you really want to understand the business you’re serving you have to understand how they sell. Now this is always the biggest question of them all. Businesses are built for profit and the whole point of getting you to build them a website is in fact for you to well...make them some money. Or make it rain or get that bread...as the kids are saying these days. Who says that?
The bottom line is websites are meant to help businesses achieve their goal of getting more customers and generating more sales. While not all websites are directly sales websites, they in some ways help in the sales process by establishing the brand's credibility and showcasing it's services and offerings to visitors.
In order for you to create a website that sells, you need to understand how sales happens at these businesses.
A few questions you could ask:
Where does the brand get most of its sales from? Every brand has sales channels or sales routes that bring in customers. For one brand it might be Facebook ads and for another it might be walk-ins to the store. It's important for you to understand where most sales come from because it will give you context of how customers are engaging with and buying from this brand.
What sales tactics are working? - Different brands have different sales tactics, some offer discounts, others offer EMIs, while some offer free trials to anyone interested. If you understand the different sales tactics the brand has used, you can then find ways to translate that as you build their website.
What are the sales messages that are working? Which messages get the most conversions on sales. What is the brand saying that works and what doesn't work. This is going to come in handy as you write that gold website copy.
I know that was quite a bit of information so lets do a quick recap. We talked about the importance of understanding the business before you can really get down to building the website.
We broke it down into 4 areas of the business you probably should get familiar with.
The history, mission and vision - which is just getting to know the company at a foundation level
We then talked about their target audience. The people and the importance of understanding them better.
We then moved to brand identity - which describes how the brand will look, feel or sound.
And we finally spoke about understanding how sales happen for any business.
If you cover these points, you’ll find yourself in a really good place to start building that sick website.