As I meet senior folk at various firms up and down the country (and more recently in Ireland) I hear consistent themes bubbling up “Digital Change is a journey (copyright X Factor) “ “reviewing our channels to market” “AI” “business resilience” and of course “talent management”. Last week I had an interesting chat at a networking meeting that I don’t hear so often.

Your shop window

I was having a coffee with an exec at a networking event in Soho yesterday (not my usual stomping ground) but well run and good fun. She talked about her “shop window”, being a bit slow on the uptake, I assumed she literally meant a retail outlet but she was talking about her firm’s website. She said that through several iterations the site had become confused and confusing. It wasn’t clear who they were addressing, their partners, their customers, staff or the wider world, she ended by saying she was frankly a bit embarrassed by it (this is of particular interest to me, as I’ve had similar thoughts about our own website over the last year).

A call to action

She described a meeting earlier in the year where a prospect had asked her Sales Director whether he could find out more about them via their website or would he send a brochure. He lunged forward saying “Brochure”. She took that as a red flag and call to action to sort her website out but that’s where the problem really started as six months down the line, the project hadn’t got started.

I have a few things I always believe true when thinking about websites;

  • A great website underpins your activity as a firm, whilst a bad website will have the opposite effect.
  • Everyone has an opinion about a website and no two people will ever agree.
  • Firms want all the bells and whistles but don’t want to pay for it
  • Individuals apply their retail (always Amazon) experience to corporate websites
  • Firms always put off an update as long as possible, too long

Are your touch points consistent?

I met a small firm last week at their beautiful offices in Hoxton, I had researched them before the meeting and it soon became clear to me that there was a disconnect between their website. Their social media activity. Their collateral and oddly, their offices. It felt like four separate organisations but their team numbers just 45. This wasn’t just the imagery, it was the words, cultural feel and the people, none of it fitted, it really jarred. I wondered whether using external firms dilutes the ‘look and feel’ and messages or whether, as often is the case, there is a here and now approach to brand as opposed to a longer term approach. I think also, that companies get caught up in so much detail in an attempt to become Apple or Google. You just won’t get there and you probably don’t want to.

How to keep your shop window (website) relevant

So, if we all agree that your company’s website is an important component of your external face to the market, your ‘shop window’ – learn from my mistakes and what I am constantly hearing from other companies and organisations.

Here are my top tips;

  1. I am trialling a web development company who update your website on an incremental development path rather than a ‘Big Bang!’ This means that there is never a time when you think that you website needs updating, it always is. Ask me in six months whether this is being successful.
  2. Have a clear brief and stick like glue. If anyone says…”it would be great if we could….” Halfway through, you can refer back to your brief. It is your anchor.
  3. Regular updates with the development team. Again anchor back to the brief and timelines AND cost. Ensure you don’t get creep on any of these metrics.
  4. Be clear who needs to be involved on a) consultation with staff is key at certain points but not all the time and avoid a big reveal.
  5. Lastly, keep a quarterly review in your diary. The job is never done.

Let me know your thoughts and experiences as I don’t have all the answers. I am happy to share with our wider community.