When it comes to opening a venue for the first time, there is no marketing project more important than launching a website and digital presence. In today’s blog, we will cover the following top 5 factors to consider when building a website for a new venue.
- Establish a vision
- Set aside a healthy budget
- Allow plenty of time for development
- Choose the right vendor for the project
- Map out your content
Establish a Vision
Before starting your website project and hiring a vendor, it is important to have a vision for the website you want. This is not always an easy task unless you have built a website before or are confident in your choices. Most of the time, the vision naturally aligns with your brand and a look and feel can be determined from this. However, if you’re finding it difficult to visualize your website, we recommend looking at comparisons for inspiration and even what NOT to do.
Start by researching websites that have the same purpose as yours – other facilities, venues, and more. Look at the design, content, and navigation to determine your favorites and make note of what works and what doesn’t. Once you have gathered all your inspiration and have an idea of what you like and dislike in website designs, you have a vision and can include this information when you kick the process off with a developer.
This process will not only save time in the discovery phase with a developer but will give you confidence that any revisions with your vendor will maintain the standard of what you want on your website.
Set Aside a Healthy Budget
Your website is the single most important marketing project executed in the pre-opening phase of building your facility. This is why it is crucial to set aside a healthy budget for the development and maintenance of the site. Most facility websites are robust and require a lot of time and talent to get right. For this reason, we recommend setting aside at least 25% of your marketing budget to pay for your website, hosting, and SEO services. This may seem like a large allocation, but the end result will be far more rewarding.
It is important to note that not all web developers are the same nor do they price their services the same. If you’re looking for a website vendor who has built top-of-the-line, modern-looking, fully custom websites, chances are they will charge more for their services. It’s important to note that there is also the other side of the spectrum – vendors who have little experience, a small portfolio, and use design templates rather than implementing custom elements may be more cost-efficient, but may not engage your audience properly. By researching vendors in your local area or surrounding communities, you can get a feel for the vendors that are available and how their work compares.
Allow Plenty of Time for Development
You know the old saying… Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same goes for websites. A typical timeframe for building a custom site takes approximately 90 days. This includes development, revisions, approvals, and more.
All timelines will be set with your website developer, but we recommend allowing at least 4 months for development before your site to go live. This will ensure a steady workflow and quality product.
Choose the Right Vendor for the Project
As mentioned before in our budget topic, it’s important to do your research on web developers before you choose one for your project. A good place to start when looking for the right vendor is to consider their portfolio of work. If their website does not display a clear history of projects with example work, chances are they aren’t a satisfactory vendor.
Several criteria to consider when choosing the right vendor include proximity to your location, example work in the area of your business, design of their website, and ease of communication.
The vendor you choose does not need to be in your backyard, however it is helpful to choose a vendor that is easy to contact, whether that’s via phone or online and even for an in-person meeting. We don’t recommend choosing a vendor in Australia, for instance, if your facility is in California.
Although it isn’t required of most vendors, it can be helpful to choose a developer who has built websites similar to the structure and needs of a sports facility site. This typically includes hospitality sites, recreation sites, and websites for venues with comprehensive information like booking, registration, and, possibly, an e-commerce component.
Another area to consider when looking for the right vendor is the design of their own website. If their website is not easily accessible, designed well, or has example work to reference, chances are their work is lacking the expertise you need for your project.
Finally, when considering vendors for your project, assess the ease of communication with the company. If you have tried to get a hold of them several times, but they’re not responding, chances are you’ll run into communication issues down the road as well.
Map Out Your Content
Similar to our first point “Have a Vision”, it is best practice to map out your content ahead of hiring a website vendor. The most common way to do this is to write a sitemap which includes all navigation pages and subpages under those. You may also include the need for forms, e-commerce, integration with CRMs, or any other software you need.
The sitemap should also be included when writing your RFP to allow vendors to view the scope of the project and the size of your website. Mapping your content is the best way to determine the structure of your site and build a hierarchy of information you feel is necessary for visitors.
You will find this crucial step saves a lot of time and confusion when building your website. It is a point of alignment for you and your vendor and will make everyone’s job easier in the long run.
By following these guidelines for building a website for your project, you will have more success overall. You will create a website that is comprehensive, easy to navigate, well-designed, and has what you need to make sales and book your venue.
Our marketing team has the expertise to help you build your website as well as campaigns to drive traffic. To learn more about our marketing services, give us a call at: 727 474 3845