If you are feeling that you need to shake things up a bit in your business, consider doing a new website or redesigning your existing one. Seriously. The process of re-architecting your web presence is a form of catharsis and rebirth. It can help you fine-tune your existing marketing messages, focus your unique value proposition and re-define your visual identity. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” you respond. That is all well and good, but if you don’t take a few risks, the rewards don’t come as frequently. In fact, the exercise in re-evaluating how people interact with your business on the web can actually help you refocus your business to better help them.

This site, HTD Strategies, is new as of October 2013. Prior to that, it was just a figment of my imagination, a concept and a dream. And then something clicked and ideas moved from my synapses to the digital bits and bytes you see before you. Ideas became reality. While this is an accomplishment, for me the entire process of focus and definition was more rewarding than the actual end result. So I got to thinking, why did it feel so good?

As with any project, its completion is extremely satisfactory. There is nothing better than putting a check in the box, after all, we are all ruled by to-do lists, project plans and action items. But as I reflected back on the past couple of weeks, I realized that the process of designing a new website (or redoing an existing one) is actually quite critical to businesses. It’s as important as repainting a dingy room or mowing the lawn or building a new addition on your house. Not only is it a form of improvement, it is also an expression of personality and vision.

For me, developing this new site meant that I had to discover and articulate my focus. What was the site going to be about? How was it going to help others? How was it going to help me? Part of this discovery phase meant trying to understand what I am not. For me, I wanted to be sure that I could provide people with help based on my past experience as well as my current thoughts and ideas.

Emerging at the end of the tunnel, I had a much better idea of my own vision. So, if you are struggling to create your unique value proposition (UVP) or expressing the passion behind the products or services that you are offering, you might want to consider doing a new website or redesigning your current one…even if you don’t use the design in the end. The exercise alone is thought-provoking enough to either solidify your current messages or make you realize that you actually DO need to rethink your site and your messaging.

Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Start at the top – Define your UVP or the 5-second phrase that makes you or your company unique. For me it was – “Your Partner, Your Expert, Your Success.”
  2. Expand the message – Now start thinking about that elevator pitch. Keep it short though, as you don’t want to bore your audience. I went with – “An agency specializing in Marketing, Social Media and Content Strategies.”
  3. Build out the framework – You need to have some substance and structure supporting the top 2 items. Talk about your high level services or products. Mine are: marketing, social media and content.
  4. Fill it all in – Now add in the specifics to your framework. This is where the details come into play. I have a lot of services so just go check out my specific pages for marketing, social media and content.

This is really no different than the 10,000, 1000, 100 and 1 foot views, but I believe the metaphor of building a structure is a bit more positive and substantial than falling to the earth which is pretty scary.

Remember to define your message, find a focus, strive to create engagement, have a consistent voice/theme/message and test your site design/redesign with others to ensure that it works. When you are the key decision maker, sometimes it is difficult to be that close to your pride and joy. Step back and do some reflection and even let it all sit for a while. And be sure to iterate and fine-tune based on the feedback that you get.

The process of organizing your thoughts to produce or redesign a website that is compelling, intelligent and understandable to the end user is an extremely important exercise to undertake. It is, however, something that takes a lot of time and effort to do it well. Don’t do it if you don’t have the time or resources. While that may be stating the obvious, I have seen many companies undertake redesigns of their web presence and force an extremely tight timeline with limited resources. It’s one or the other folks – lots of time or lots of resources. If you have lots of both items, you are in a perfect situation. If you don’t, either carve out time and make it a priority, or define a time when you CAN focus on it.

Don’t short change yourself or your business. But DO go through this exercise periodically, even if you don’t actually redesign your site. The focus and discovery is what is truly powerful about the process.