I was thinking back to how the approach to website design used to be much simpler over 10 years ago, and before the constant disruption in technology platforms were accelerated since Web 2.0. I don’t proclaim to be a creative award winning web designer, however one of common themes our clients and businesses interviewed have shared with us which keeps coming up is how businesses can spend so much time and money on web design creative elements. It seems to occur largely in marketing silos without a solid holistic commercial view and digital strategy, particularly for smaller to medium sized businesses.
The desired outcomes for your website design and development can deliver measurable and tangible ROI to increase their sales revenue and profits. So how can you achieve this? The challenge is that the connection or linkage between business strategy, digital strategy, creative design, commercial and marketing aligned outcomes seems to be commonly amiss.
In today’s environment, have people forgotten ‘what is the purpose of a website?’. This is more important when you have so many digital and social channels to setup your digital ‘shopfront’ online when considering e-commerce or creating relevant digital business channels. The simple business aim should be to use your website to increase customer profits and reduce operational costs.
Since completing my MBA unit (over 15 years ago) on digital marketing and e-commerce, one thing that has stayed with me is the about the fundamentals of having a website and I believe this is still valid and applies today at a foundation planning level. The ICDT model is framework for digital e-business which I want to revisit here and encourage businesses to apply this in their planning which is covered further below in this article.
The ICDT model, developed by Albert Angehrn at INSEAD, is a systematic approach to the analysis and classification of business-related Internet strategies. It serves as a basis for identifying how existing goods and services can be extended and redesigned to take advantage of the Internet, as well as suggesting the characteristics of new goods and services made possible through this new medium.
Source: Media Circus
Many people think they need to be on social media and just build or rebuild their website and then incorporate SEO, however what isn’t often thought about in enough detail is commercial design aspect from website design or content development side of your website business profile.
We keep seeing examples of little effort in thinking or connecting commercial strategy through when working with creative marketing agencies on the commercial impact for client and business purpose.
Most recently a leading IT services business spent $65,000 for a fairly average template website design without a digital marketing plan! Being too busy or just ticking the box to get it done doesn’t warrant this kind of expenditure level with a silo approach without a holistic marketing strategy and commercial ROI considered.
If you are a business owner, ask yourself these questions first:
- Why do I have to spend a significant amount of money building a new website?
- If I cut costs with a low-budget website, what ROI will that provide?
- Are you rebranding or is there a driving reason behind your website choices?
- Have you checked what your competitors are doing, or are you going straight to spend on SEO?
- Are you spending money on Google AdWords or social media paid campaigns for little tangible ROI?
- Do you need to move from a static website to a dynamic website?
You need to establish what purpose your website needs to meet, and how that links to how you attract or engage your prospective clients online.
Example of typical technology and services sector websites:
I have viewed many technologies and business services websites. Many of the look and feel of many redeveloped sites for the investment may not have strong commercial ROI or value attached to it. The purpose doesn’t seem clear and they all look generic in terms of the menus and content flow structure. Your digital brand identity is more important than ever in today’s market.
The standard structure feels like this – Home Page, About Us, Our Services, Our Products, Contact Us, etc. Then there are Our Partners –which tends to be suppliers and vendors logos.
Alternative customer centric approach to consider:
This may seem obvious but your marketing manager or consultant should be talking to you first about who your customer is and how they buy from you.
- Who are you trying to attract from a buyer’s journey perspective?
- Have you planned out your customer focused content plan and approach?
- Do you have subdomains or separate domains or webpage consideration for different audiences?
- Can you address the actual problems you are trying to solve instead of just talking about your products?
I think any investment in website design shouldn’t be conducted in isolation of design and branding before a solid digital marketing strategy and customer profile is formed.
It should be an implementation activity once the business value proposition and go to market messaging is clear.
Who is your audience? Is it just B2B or B2C or does it need to be more targeted to certain industries or audiences.
Taking the lowest cost option isn’t always the best solution as it will end up costing more if you don’t develop a digital marketing plan and consider the content and context that suits your business products and services with your customers in mind.
We have seen many websites which are templated using Wix or other easy to use web creation tools or via WordPress.
The ICDT model
In remembering the fundamentals of a website and its purpose, my opinion follows a basic website design framework based on the acronym of ICDT.
What does ICDT stand for?
- To provide Information to your online audience from your website.
- To be able to use to Communicate to your online audience through various digital channels.
- To be able to use for Distribution of relevant information or content to your audience
- To be able to be Transact through your website or other digital channels.
So what does this mean?
Our recommendation, whether you are planning or designing a new website or refreshing an existing one, is to consider the ICDT framework as part of your overall digital marketing strategy and website development approach.
- To deliver appropriate content and information about your business services and products to your visitors
- To provide your expertise and share knowledge with your prospective or existing clients
- To publish blogs, articles or other content pieces relevant to your audience
- To use multiple digital channels to communicate inbound or outbound with your clients or prospective clients
- Social Media – Instant Messaging, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn channels
- How can your visitors share your content or web pages to others or refer on?
- How can you be contacted via phone, email, instant messaging, video call, or can customers come directly to your office?
- To share information or communication – like email subscription list or newsletters with a one-to-one or one-to-many approach
- To share price lists or descriptions about your services or products
- To provide offers or specials
- How do you distribute information to your affiliates or partners or clients?
Who are you trying to attract with your customer profile and does it resonate with your target audience?
- Data capture – To use as an exchange of information
- CTA – Call to Action to register or click on something of value for your reader or visitor to take action or respond to your request or offer
- Landing page – To drill down into a specific area of interest in exchange for contact details. i.e an email address or phone number
- Tracking – To subscribe to obtain information about your clients buying habits
- Forms – To register for events or seminars or to book a meeting
- Offers – To purchase online via ecommerce methods of credit card or ordering/booking process or to directly transact a sale. i.e subscription on a per month model where everything is managed online via your website.
These are just some basic examples of using an ICDT framework for considering t how you approach designing your website and considering the commercial elements and purpose to incorporate.
If you would like more information about reviewing your website design or how to create your digital marketing strategy with considering how to use the ICDT framework, please contact us.
We are offering a digital readiness assessment which will encompass reviewing how your web presence should be shaped.