3 Questions You Must Answer Before Launching a Website


“we have a technology problem,” is what I often hear from a client or potential client, but while that might be true, most of the time it’s not the technology problem that’s causing the issue, but a communication one. My company, The A Group, has a technology division where we have developed a sophisticated platform for media-rich tools as well as a powerful and easy-to-use content management system. While I’m happy to sell our products to anyone who needs faster, easier and overall better technology, I’m always careful to make sure people understand that’s the communication strategy that drives the technology and not the other way around.

Before you redo your website

This might sound simplistic to some, but I can tell you from personal experience that many churches, businesses and not-for-profits believe that a shiny new website, a powerful digital media tool, or an iPhone app will cure their communication problems. They won’t.

What usually happen in the absence of a communication strategy  is that the new technology gets misused, or worst, underused because there’s no plan or a champion who understands how to use it. So before spending money on a new website or technology, here’s 3 questions you should ask:

What do I want this thing do to? Sell products?  gather leads? create community? share media? You need to have a clear vision for your new website or project. Remember, however, that the more things any one system is designed to do, the more complex and potential less effective it becomes.

Who in the team will be the champion for this project? I’m not talking about a technical position here. This is not a question about technology, but about strategy. Who understands the DNA of the organization to make sure this initiative will “look, feel and work” like it should. In my experience when IT (information technology) drives the project, development focus on platforms or the latest development technique and not on the end-user and their experience, where it should begin and end.

What’s our sustainability plan? Once a project goes live, whether it’s a site or an app, it’s only the beginning.  Who are the people responsible for content? What’s the social media elements of the site and who’s going to monitor them? Oftentimes when a client creates a media-rich environment and becomes successful at attracting large  traffic, they have to deal with unplanned bandwidth costs. (Think of bandwidth as virtual pipes in and out of your website. The more users you have the bigger the pipes have to be) If your vision is to give your content for free, that’s great, but you need to figure out a way to pay for it.

What has been your experience with technology in the workplace? What have you learned?

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  • Mark

    I had a similar issue with my previous place of employment where the financial office drove our web redesign process because they wanted to make sure the new site worked with their financial software. Well it worked great for them but it was not what the consumer wanted. It was a train wreck.

    • Oh, the finances driving technology is even scarier than the geeks driving it. It's important to get your internal systems to work with your website, but it must work for the consumer or it doesn't really matter.

  • Bill Sneider

    We have invested in a very inexpensive website. It was great for the first few months but as we grew and our online strategy needed to grow, the product we bought became a liability. We have learned since then to make sure we invest in scalable technology that allows us to ad features as we need them.

    • Scalability is a key issue with any technology project. Make sure you know how far you can go with your new site. Often people are very surprised how limited some platforms are. They are usually cheap for a reason.

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  • Zach Norman

    Do you have any good ideas for helping leadership look at developing a marketing effort like building a website from a values first prospective? I have one future project in particular that without some course correct I know is going to at best produce mediocre results because we're already on designing page layouts and we've skipped over what the consumer wants, how they want to interact with us, etc.

    • Zach, that's a tough one. You need to find someone internally who knows your consumer best and can be an advocate for the them. Sometimes I've seen getting feedback from consumers to be a good way to bring the project back on track. You can use survey monkey to poll people and get a sense of what's mst important to them.

  • Kyle Smith

    Great post!! IT is what has always driven the site where I work bc they control the servers. So, fine be a part of the process but don't control the whole thing. The only concern is how good of a backup they can have, not content, info structure, end user experience, usability for contributors….ugh.

    • A case of IT driving a website is Godaddy. That site is so cluttered and hard to get around in. You know it's held hostage by IT.

  • Good tips Maurilio! I have learned that when something can go wrong it most likely will….a little planning ahead will help with that. I have also learned how important it is to have a team that can help with the issues.

  • So true. Simply having a hammer isn't what builds a house. It's knowing how to use the hammer and having a plan on what to build that does.

    I, like you, see it all the time. Companies, organizations, etc chase the shiny. They think that the cosmetics will fix the issue and they kind of do… for a moment. New helps create momentum and people take notice but if the plan isn't in place then it's right back to where they were once the shine wears off.

    I'm a fan strategy, function and then design (in that order). To often orgs start in reverse.

  • billy supardi

    What are the strategy pointers that could kicl start the discussion?

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