Table of Contents

    Let's be honest, a website is no longer just a website - it’s the beating heart of your brand's online presence. That's why business owners are now onboard with investing heavily into it their sites. As a digital marketing leader, you're now shaping your organization's digital footprint. And, with a bit of luck, you've been given the resources to build out a big-picture marketing strategy to meet your business goals.

    An aesthetically pleasing website is no longer enough in the race to dive ROI, traffic and qualified conversions. At the same time, ever-evolving trends, technology and consumer behaviors are becoming increasingly complex. If only you had a checklist to navigate the modern landscape and build a bada$$ website that converts, and achieves your business and creative goals. Well... now you do. So buckle in as we dive into the essential components you need to turn that dream into your everyday reality.

    Key website software features to watch out for

    Running a badass website requires website software that can keep up. And by keeping up we mean that it actually streamlines your workflows so that your team can quickly create, edit and manage content. An intuitive dashboard and a user-friendly interface is something we prioritize in our website software so that we can come out on top… but more importantly keeping our team happy.

    Our top 6 features:

    1. Flexible components/templates

      Some systems might have pre-built OOTB templates, or maybe your development team has created certain templates for specific areas of the website. But having ultimate flexibility and reusable components can really turbocharge your creativity and accelerate the process of creating personalized layouts for your content.


      Drag and drop

      The drag and drop feature always goes down well with your marketing and development teams. Users with zero coding or technical expertise can quickly build templates with zero headaches. 

    1. Reusing content

      The ability to seamlessly grab content and deliver it across all channels and devices tmaximizes the value of any asset. For example, pulling an image from your CMS and effortlessly repurposing it for an app or rendering it for mobile will streamline your process and save you a ton of time.

    2. Preview and publishing

      A real-time preview of content in-situ brings you up to speed in a second. It's invaluable for catching those last-minute errors or design mishaps. Some website software, such Optimizely CMS, even allows you to preview personalized content by switching between the default and variant content so that you can see what your customers will see.

      By allowing you to schedule your content for publishing, it also helps you integrate with the content releases from other marketing teams, campaigns or product launches. Once that publish button is hit and the piece goes live, you'll also be able to monitor the publishing history to see who published it and when.

    Spotlight: 3 features you should never overlook

    1. Security & compliance

      Your website software needs to be up to the job of protecting your corporate digital assets, not to mention sensitive customer data from potential breaches and pesky cyber attacks. One way to ensure this is to make sure that the right editors have access to what they need.

    A massive strength of Optimizely is our ability to actually edit the CMS to allow non-technical editors access to the things that they need to edit.

    Simon Gardiner
    Head of Digital Product at Goodwood

    Regular updates will address security vulnerabilites and improve functionality without you having to lift a finger.   Automated backup systems and easy restore options to protect against data loss also help make sure you sleep better at night .Your CMS also needs to be equally complaint with the latest regulations such as GDPR or industry specific standards to avoid any legal or financial penalties. 

    1. Sustainability

      Many web hosting providers now use renewable energy sources or implement carbon offset programs - look out for certifications like Green Power Partner or renewable energy guarantees. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find some data centers have been optimized with energy-efficient hardware and cooling systems. These days even server load can be optimized through efficient coding, caching, and content delivery networks (CDNs). Hey – every little helps and every small step makes a difference.

    2. PaaS vs SaaS

      PaaS and SaaS offer you different options depending on your business objectives. This is a key decision to evaluate when you think about how you want to host your website infrastructure and strategy. This choice is driven by your expertise to align with your business objectives, which we will talk about later in more depth and your priorities. Do you want rapid deployed and simplicity (SaaS) or the ability to customize and control your application development (PaaS), the decision is yours.  

    7 steps to build a badass website (that connects and converts)

    They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but that doesn't stop people judging your website by it's homepage. Did you know, it takes as little as 0.5 seconds for a user to form an opinion about your website?So it's vital that you build the right website for you. We know just how overwhelming this can be, so we have broken it down into 7 steps that we follow to ensure you build a badass website that not only looks the part but converts.

    Step 1: Discover

    Before you start building anything digital, you have to build belief in your team. So your first step is to make sure everyone is on the same page. Before designing a website, everyone needs to agree why it needs to exist. From there, it follows that you define clear content marketing goals and objectives together, from your immediate teams to wider organizational units (see how we lead our integrated marketing team). What exactly are you aiming to achieve with your content marketing efforts? Boost website traffic? Generate new sales leads? Increase sales? From then on, it’s a matter of working smart.

    Splitting the project into small deliverables will help keep your team on course for the target go-live date. Use project management software to provide notifications of tasks due. And with the prevalence of remote working, make sure everyone has access to the collaboration tools they need to work closely, drive progress, and meet deadlines.

    Ideation and execution

    Michiel Dorjee, Digital Marketing Director at Optimizely, sits down with Julia Porter, Senior Content Marketing Director, to dicuss how they prioritize their teams ideation process for big projects (June 2024)

    Step 2: Design

    Did you know that 40% of shoppers believe images and color are vital to a company’s brand. You probably already have an established set of branding guidelines that will dictate your choice of colors, fonts, logo variations and all that jazz. Even so, it’s worth bearing in mind how strongly color can psychologically influence your visitors in terms of emotions, values, and perceptions.

    You may be tied to a certain typeface, but you may have the freedom to design text to set the right mood and convey the right message.

    And whether you go for photography, illustrations, animations, or icons, consider how your imagery is not only on-brand, but also sets the right kind of mood and fits in with your color scheme and typography.

    A beautifully crafted design brief will bring these elements together to help you build a cohesive website that looks the part and does the job.

    Cool website design tools: 


    Some bada$$ websites made on Optimizely CMS

    Step 3: Populate

    We all know that great content is where it’s at. Old-school marketing spiel is out. Authenticity is in: true stories, real people, genuine issues. Clear, focused content that helps, guides, supports, informs is how you make meaningful connections with your audiences. Video content is essential to engage audiences and perfect for limited attention spans that are often more used to watching YouTube or scrolling through TikTok than reading. Sounds obvious, but make sure the most relevant content should be front and center and as easily accessible as possible, not buried in a PDF buried three layers down. Make sure you’ve identified your key words (such as ‘How to build a website’ – thanks!) and weave them naturally into your content. And remember going live is just the start. To remain high in search rankings and give visitors reasons to come back, you’ll need to keep your bada$$ website up to date with regular blog posts, products and promotional offers.

     Don't forget to include these key pages:

    Key pages to remember when building a website

    Step 4: Optimize 

    Beyond delivering high conversion content, your website also needs to offer a smooth and responsive user experience with zero broken links or errors. You’ll also want to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile devices - maybe consider using responsive templates that automatically adjust to different screen sizes.

    Google’s Page Experience tool evaluates your website experience in three categories, using them as a ranking signal for search results. In other words, these metrics affect your SEO – so they really matter.

    1. Core Web Vitals tests a page’s speed, responsiveness and stability before providing a rating of Good, Needs Improvement or Poor. Each page must obtain a Good rating in all three metrics to qualify for Good page experience status.
    2. Mobile usability tests must show zero errors to receive a Good mark for mobile devices.
    3. HTTPS usage checks that a web page is using HTTPS. Only a secure website can receive a Good page experience status in Google Search.

    Then once you go live, use webmaster and analytics tools such as Google Analytics to keep an eye on the ways people interact with your site. Key website engagement metrics include bounce rates, click-through rates and average session duration. And don’t forget to perform monthly reviews to make sure all your internal and external links, pages and plug-ins are working as they should be.

    Step 5: Test & experiment

    The most successful digital brands are always innovating. But they don’t just launch new features and cross their fingers. They use digital experimentation to understand how their customers will respond to a new idea through controlled releases. Multivariate tests will deliver insights into what resonates best with your customers. Do particular images, colors, or fonts drive more conversions?

    When you understand what works best, you can then roll out the changes with confidence, since you’ve mitigated most of the risk. In other words, you already know that your new idea works in the wild. Creating a culture of experimentation leads to a virtuous circle of constant improvement whether you’re changing the color of a button, streamlining a shopper journey, or completely revamping your site layout.

    If you’re new to digital experimentation, start small with simple changes that deliver fast results. But once you get going, you need to shift your focus from velocity (the number of experiments you conduct) to impact (the results they deliver).  How? Funny you should ask. We recently crunched the numbers from 127,000 tests to guide you on the journey to mastering growth and powering performance.

    Step 6: Personalize

    Personalization goes way beyond adding a customer’s name or location to an email. We’re talking deep personalization: using in-depth customer data such as behavior, interests, and preferences to shape highly targeted website and campaigns.

    In an online world flooded with content, that’s exactly how you stand out, win attention, increase engagement and boost revenue. Even so, 63% of marketers struggle with personalization – usually because they lack the time, the resources, the know-how, or the lot. But don’t be daunted. You’ll find all kinds of easy-to-use personalization tools out there to do the heavy lifting for you.

    Artificial intelligence plays a big part here in making personalization as effective as it is effortless. AI can analyze every customer’s behavior on your website to make sure they receive the right messages at the tight time – a powerful way to boost brand engagement and site duration.

    And automated content recommendations use the detailed knowledge of each customer’s interests to match visitors to the most relevant content. Now that’s bada$$!

    Step 7: Measure 

    Demonstrating ROI will show how effectively your website is meeting its goals, whether driving leads, winning conversions, generating brand awareness, increasing revenue or all of the above. Clearly and consistently communicating the value of your efforts will put you in pole position to win additional support and the resources you need to continue evolving and improving.

    But how do you measure the success of something that mostly comprises pictures and words? It takes a combination of good metrics, identifiable conversions, and a way to value those conversions in financial terms. Just be aware that the stars rarely align and figuring out your ROI just isn’t possible.

    According to the Content Marketing Institute, 33% of B2B marketers and 41% of B2C marketers highlighted the inability to measure content as a real issue. There is often a disconnect between measuring alignment with goals and objectives, especially when using the same KPIs as others – notably traffic, rankings, click-through rate (CTR), etc. Tracking a series of lesser-known metrics, on the other hand, can hand you the edge. 

    Alternative metrics to consider:

    1. Cost per acquisition
    2. Time on page
    3. Number of sessions per user
    4. Exit rate
    5. Email sign ups
    6. Social shares
    7. Backlinks
    8. Organic traffic

    Does your existing website platform support your business goals?

    At this point you will know if your existing platform supports your business objectives or not. But the bigger question is, if it doesn’t, what are you waiting for? And if it does, will it continue to in the future?

    Future proofing your digital tech stack to withstand a new acquisition, or several… rapid growth or budget cuts will aid better decision making when it comes to your digital strategy, team alignment and digital roadmap to ensure that your digital tools can support you no matter the weather.

    So let’s take a few minutes to discuss how you’re currently leveraging your website platform so that it aligns with your business goals at presents and in five years’ time and identify any gaps or opportunities for improvements to enhance your overall strategy and not hinder it.

    Your web platform vs your business objectives  

    Your website platform is at the core of your digital strategy, therefore its imperative that we continuously assess whether it aligns with our business objectives, whether that be customer engagement, conversion increase, expanding into new markets or enhancing internal operations. Your website platform needs to be scalable and robust to withstand the test of time… maybe not the test of time but at least the next five years!  

    Picking a user-centric website platform

    Michiel Dorjee, Digital Marketing Director at Optimizely, sits down with Julia Porter, Senior Content Marketing Director, to dicuss key features to look out for in a website platform to align with business goals (June 2024)

    Common business objectives like increasing brand awareness and visibility, driving sales and conversions or enhancing customer engagement might require some tweaks to your content or a brand redesign. But things like, expanding market reach or ensuring security and compliance or facilitating business growth and scalability will need a more robust approach and platform.

    For example, if we take market expansion as a goal, a legacy CMS might not be able to support multilingual or localized content or it might not be able to push omnichannel content across your various digital platforms. This in turn will leave you and your team frustrated as they are not set up for success due to the limitations of your website platform.

    We have put together a quick checklist to see if you should be in the market for some new tools… or maybe just a change in CMS.

    Your website platform health check

    • Will your current tech stack still align to your business operations and objectives in the next five years?
      You must be joking
    • Does your current website software seamlessly integrate with other technologies and support your ROI metrics?
      If only
    • Does your current platform run smoothly and efficiently?
      I haven’t dared to check recently  
    • Can you deliver new content at speed?  
      Hold on – I’ll ask my content team
    • Is your digital team and extended marketing teams set up for success with your current website platform?
      They will have to suck it up!

    If you’ve answered ‘no’ to every question, you’ve guessed it, its time to upgrade.

    To conclude...

    Long gone are the days where our role of just keeping the brands online presences alive, we are now required to have a strategic blend of cutting-edge technology, user-centric design, robust content management, a seamless user experience and not just any website, but a bada$$ website! As we know, this is no easy task and requires months of planning and strategic vision to execute. On top of that we must blend our cutting-edge technology with user-centric design to create a site that not only attracts visitors but also drives engagement.

    So, our top tip is to choose a robust CMS that aligns with your team, business objectives and security measures. Regularly update and maintain your site to keep up with evolving digital trends and security threats. Utilize your team to be the ears on the ground to update and enhance your CMS to make it more user-friendly within your organization and last but not least, prioritize content that resonates with your audience.

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