Show me your site map

You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint, would you?

Building a website requires the same thought, planning and structure as building a house and having a site map before development starts is the easiest way to ensure the website you envisioned is the site that’s produced.

You might be asking yourself, “What’s a site map?” A site map is a document that outlines the structure, or blueprint, of your website, which allows you to visually understand the framework that holds your design and content together.

Site Map Sample

Before you proceed with the design and development of your website, make sure you have a site map in hand. A benefit that TAG offers to our clients, a site map is imperative to your success for three reasons:

Understanding the structure of your website
Where is your contact information stored? What pages have in-bound marketing? How do people find your company history? All of this information is housed on your site map, giving you the ultimate breakdown of how your website is laid out, where to find content and how the end user will experience everything your site offers.

By laying it out from the start, you can be sure everything that needs to be included makes it into the site and avoid surprises or oversights later.

Understanding the functionality of your site
Having a complete understanding of how your website functions is key to knowing how customers will interact with your content. This is especially handy when in-bound marketing is involved. Your site map will show you where in the process your customer will receive a confirmation email when information is submitted, how they connect with your social networks and where they will be presented with opportunities for ecommerce and email marketing.

Having this laid out in the site map in advance forces you to think through and coordinate functions across the site before development is underway so that you and the user get the most out of your site when it’s finished.

Understanding the scope of your project ($$$!)
Let’s face it, dollars matter. The only true way to know that the dollar amount on an estimate matches the work put into your website is to have it all laid out. Remember those potential surprises and oversights that could crop up without a site map? Those can add up over the course of development if the client and developer are on different pages as the site is being built.

For an accurate estimate in terms of time and expense, a site map is a must!

 

TAG saves everyone a headache down the road by taking the time to sit down with our clients and plan out a site map that includes the site structure, functions and scope. Projecting a vision for the site and nailing down the details in a site map is the best way to ensure a quality product that meets and exceeds expectations!

To download our free Web Development Services Checklist and learn more about our web design process, visit our website!

Five tips to choose a web development partner

Your business website is more important than ever in today’s digital-savvy world. Often times your potential customers find your website before engaging with you directly. Your website needs to reflect your brand, drive business, collect leads and serve as a 24/7 inbound marketing machine.

There are many factors that go into choosing a web development partner for your new website. But we’ve narrowed down the top five considerations for choosing a firm to trust the future of your business’ online presence to.

Website Grader

Start with a discovery meeting

A discovery meeting is critical to creating a website that will work as an inbound marketing machine for your business. Designers, developers and copywriters are experts at creating websites; but, you are the expert in your business and industry. The discovery meeting allows your website design team to get to know your business goals, market expectancies and what you need the website to do for potential customers.

Only after a discovery meeting will you get a website that truly works for your business 24 / 7, and a true estimate of the cost to make it do exactly what you need it to.

Will the website be responsive?

The way we access the web is changing. Mobile and tablet usage is on the rise and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Mobile users want a website that is easy to read without having to turn or enlarge the screen. If your website doesn’t dynamically resize itself on a mobile device, 61 percent of people will leave and go to a competitor’s that does.

Is the website designed just for your business?

One way website developers cut corners is to use a template design for your website. While this can keep costs down, it also means there could be another business out there with a website that looks just like yours. In order to get the most ROI out of your website, it’s best to have it designed and developed specifically for your brand, business needs and objectives.

Use an open-source CMS instead of a proprietary one

A CMS, or content management system, is the back end of your website where you will be able to edit and make changes to the content. Some web developers use a proprietary CMS that was developed in-house. This can be problematic because you’re tied to the developer as long as you have the website.

However if your website is developed in an open-source CMS, you can cut ties and take the website with you when you go.

Optimize for search with a Google-certified specialist

Your brand new website won’t be very useful if your potential customers can’t find you. Search engine optimization is becoming much more about content on the page, than meta tags included into your website’s code. Writing for the web is an art form. It’s not like writing for print. Working with a Google-certified specialist to choose keywords that matter to your industry, and an experienced copywriter to weave them into the content throughout your website, will increase your search engine ranking.

Click here to learn more about the TAG web design and development process and how we can help turn your business website into an inbound marketing sales machine.

We have a few free tools to help you asses your current website and vet potential web developers. Click here  to download your free website grader determine the strengths of your current website’s marketing presence. And click here to download a web development services checklist to get all the right interview questions to ask potential web development partners.

 

Eight questions to ask before hiring a marketing firm

Choosing the right marketing firm for your business can be a lengthy and sometimes expensive process. With thousands of different marketing firms available worldwide, who all offer great design and a wide variety of conventional and digital marketing services, choosing the wrong partner can be very expensive and can hurt your brand. You have to research your options and make sure that the firm is the right fit for you, your brand and your business goals.

Here are 8 questions that will help you make the right decision

Do they practice what they preach?

You wouldn’t trust a dentist with bad teeth or a tailor in ill-fitting clothes, would you? When you are researching marketing firms check their website, social media pages and online search ranking. Most marketing firms will display their top capabilities on their own website. Make sure that the site is mobile friendly and research the quality of their content. For social media, see how often they post, what type of content they share, and how much engagement there is.

Who are their clients?

Depending on what type of business you have, you want to make sure the marketing firm can handle all your needs but also gives you the attention that you require. A good balance of large clients and smaller clients is recommended. If you compete in a certain industry, it helps if the firm has previous experience in a related sector as well.

Are they forward thinking?

The marketing industry moves fast. What worked two years ago might already be replaced by something completely new. You want to make sure that the marketing firm understands the most current marketing strategies. Check out their blog to see how often they post and how current their content is. A good marketing firm understands that it is their job to be your trusted marketing partner and keep you up to date on the latest marketing techniques and development to ensure you reach the highest return on investment.

Do they understand digital?

Every business needs an online strategy. With new online marketing solutions such as inbound marketing, social media marketing and Search Engine Optimization, it is key that your marketing firm understands the most current digital marketing strategies. To make sure that your digital brand messaging is in sync with your conventional brand messaging, a full service marketing firm with a strong digital department that can handle all your communication needs is the better choice.

How do they gain insight into your customers and prospects?

To make smart marketing decisions, your marketing firm needs to understand your customers and prospects. You want to make sure that your messaging speaks to your audience and converts impressions into leads or sales. Having a firm that understands your market and your industry and that utilizes marketing research information and industry information to make smart marketing decisions is key.

Do they take the time to understand your business?

In order for a firm to put together a solid marketing campaign, they have to understand your business. You trust them with your most valuable asset, and if they do not take adequate time to learn about your business, you should walk away. The marketing firm needs to understand your history, your vision, your ideal customers, your market area and your business goals. A good marketing firm creates a consistent message across all media that matches your business communication style and your vision. It creates an identity.

Do they explain their processes and do they outsource any of their services?

With more complex services such as Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing, some firms will outsource this to save internal costs. It is very important that you understand who performs these services and what their processes are. Having the experts in house also streamlines the process and ensures that they understand your brand message and your marketing goals.

How long have they been in business?

The marketing services industry is very competitive. If the firm folds in the middle of your campaign, you will have to put it on hold and hope that you can convert everything to a new firm. This can be a lengthy and expensive process. Although you can never be 100 percent sure on this, marketing firms that have been in business for multiple years, who bring in new clients on a regular basis and are current on the most recent marketing techniques will be your best choice.

 

We think that TAG is your best option when it comes to working with a marketing firm, but we challenge you to come in and ask us these questions for yourself! Contact us today to start your marketing off on the right foot! TAG…we’re it!