4 steps to a future proof website
We love building websites that look amazing and work seamlessly. But what we ultimately want to achieve is a site that will stand the test of time. And the best way to make this happen is through planning.
New technologies and platforms emerge almost on a daily basis (give or take), that help organisations function more efficiently, get to know their audience better or just do some really cool things to build audience engagement.
If you don’t think about what might be available in a few years, when the time comes to upgrade your existing tech or platforms that plug into your website, you may get stuck.
But it’s not just technology you need to consider. Here are four steps to planning a future-proof website.
1. Aligning strategies
Your website plays a vital role in communicating with your audience and if done correctly, it can be an incredibly powerful tool for your organisation. So before you jump into design and functions, or even architecture and scoping , you need to first think about how your website will support your overarching organisational objectives and marketing efforts.
It’s important that you align all your digital and website strategies to the overarching organisational goals, otherwise your website will not achieve the outcomes you need. Think of it this way: your website strategy supports your digital goals, which support your organisational objectives.
Address questions like:
- What do we want our website to achieve?
- What are the objectives?
- Are there any specific expectations?
They will help you highlight the key areas of your website you need to focus on.
For instance, RSPCA NSW’s goal is to drive adoptions. Their website strategy focuses on getting visitors to their website to adopt animals in need of a home. So one of their key website considerations is to strategically place call to actions across the website to try to increase adoptions. They also track pages and actions users take to get to the adoption page, so they can continue to optimise website performance – ultimately leading to more adoptions.
The Children’s Hospital Foundation’s focus is on driving donations. Unfortunately they didn’t have the right technology to support their donation platform, which caused issues during campaign time. So one of the core requirements for their recent website project is to ensure the infrastructure of their donation platform can and will perform at all times.
Your stakeholder will vary depending on what your organisation’s focus is. Usually they consist of donors, supporters, volunteers, members, board members, internal departments, suppliers etc.
Having your key stakeholders front of mind is critical to planning a successful website. For donors and supporters, we recommend creating personas to help you understand them better.
And there are a couple of important questions you should consider:
- What are your stakeholders’ needs?
- How will your website meet these needs?
- Where are they in their customer journey when they visit your website?
- What actions do you want them to take?
- What will you need to consider to make your website intuitive and user-friendly
- Are there any insights that might shape the look and feel of the website? (For instance, the colour blue has been shown to cultivate trust, while women don’t like the colours orange, grey or brown.)
3. Website audit
Your website audit will look at your existing technologies and platforms, level of security and content to assess what works well, what needs to improve and what may not be necessary to include in the new site.
From a technology perspective we recommend you address questions like:
- Is your existing technology delivering what you need? If so, how seamlessly?
- Is your website platform open source?
- Do you have open APIs so you can continue to connect new systems and grow
- How easily does your website integrate with other systems and platforms?
Most organisations now collect some form of sensitive donor or member information. These could range from names and email addresses to credit card and other financial information.
It’s very important to review and maintain your website security to protect your users’ privacy. Some of the questions worth asking are:
- What security measures do you have in place?
- Do they protect your organisations from all potential security issues? If so, how well?
- Are there any weaknesses in your current security?
- What will you need to put in place to strengthen your security?
- How will you ensure that your security measures don’t fail?
Investing in regular website maintenance through an agency like us or an in-house expert is vital to future proofing your website.
Websites are not “set and forget”, they need to be continually optimised and updated. This will help you protect your users and drive organisational growth.
You’ll never know if your website is doing what it’s supposed to without effective measurement in place. You should regularly conduct a well defined review of your website and its goals to make sure it’s working hard for your organisation.
In order to do that, you’ll need to set up tracking and goals through Google Analytics or another analytics tool and optimise these regularly. Your goals might change over time and your website performance might drop for some reason. Much like people, websites also need regular Health Checks to make sure everything’s functioning, as it should.
Ask us about our website Health Checks and how we can help keep your website on track.
Future proofing your website has a lot of benefits: it will save you time and money, protect your users’ personal information (and their trust in your organisation) and create efficiencies.
The more thought and planning you put into your website at the start, the more you’ll benefit in the long run.