Your website is one of, if not the first, ways prospective clients will interact with your firm. What does your online presence say about your firm’s mission, philosophy, and capabilities? It’s about more than just the words on the screen. Your decision to redesign a website isn’t one your firm will take lightly, and in order to get your project off the ground you must convince your executives and leadership team the time to act is now.
You took our advice and you created a thoughtful, comprehensive budget for your website project. Now it’s time to engage the stakeholders. What is the best way to do this? Build an air-tight business case that clearly outlines the issue, objectives, risks, opportunities, benefits, approach, and financial requirements of your project. This article, the second in our three-part series, focuses on what your business case should include in order to engage and motivate stakeholders.
Why do I need a business case?
The purpose of drafting a well-thought out and carefully crafted business case is to give your firm a reason why they should support your project. And once your project is in flight, it will help you measure and evaluate the effectiveness of your endeavor.
What MUST my business case include?
Generally speaking, business cases follow a simple formula:
- Executive Summary
- Background/Situation (aka Problems)
- Risks and Opportunities
Even though this is the first thing your audience will read when they receive your business case, it is the last thing you will write. Your executive summary is a one-, maximum two-, page overview of the elements of your business case. This is where you will synthesize your most compelling arguments and data to force the reader to act. And, it’s probably the only thing most of your stakeholders will actually read in its entirety.
What is the current state of your website? Here are some questions you can answer to help your evaluation:
- Do the calls to action consistently encourage connection with your firm?
- How well written is the copy? Is it still punchy and effective? More importantly, is it still accurate?
- Does your site’s look and feel match your firm’s voice and speak directly to your target audience?
- How easy to navigate is your site? Is critical information readily available?
- Is the site mobile friendly?
- Is it search engine optimized?
- Do third-party tools and plugins slow it down?
The objectives of your redesign/redevelopment project are fairly straightforward and consistent for most firms:
- Increased traffic and opportunity to convert visitors into leads and ultimately into clients.
- Improved website viewing and user experience, leading to lower bounce rates.
- Easier website management with a strong content management system that will save you and your team time and create operational efficiencies.
Risks and Opportunities
Here is where you will summarize all the significant things that could go right (or wrong), as well as how they will be managed. Some risks that will spring to mind are your firm’s culture and its ability to adapt to change. Identify the risks clearly – don’t mask them behind flowery language. Also be clear on the consequences if a risk becomes reality, and your plan to mitigate the issue. Follow the same exercise for opportunities.
You likely have a number of benefits you can articulate quite easily. To add to your growing list, consider these advantages to redeveloping your website:
- An updated site will increase website visitors via organic search. Google and Bing are more likely to rank your firm’s site high in search engine results when it is easy to use and contains valuable, high-quality information the search engines can easily crawl.
- Embarking on this project will provide an opportunity to develop your site for broader accessibility and reach a wider audience.
- A new site will further strengthen your brand validation. A polished, modern website will highlight your firm in the best possible light and by extension make it seem more credible in the eyes of visitors to the site.
- It will help keep your firm competitive.
- A site redevelopment will give you an opportunity to better optimize the mobile viewing experience. Recent statistics say more than 70% of web traffic is happening on mobile devices. Technology, and in particular mobile technology, is constantly evolving. A site developed even just five years ago is not operating as efficiently on mobile as its more recent companions.
- A greater opportunity for internal consensus and buy-in. It will be easy for your lawyers and business professionals to promote the firm if they can point people to a website they are proud of.
- An up-to-date website also creates a framework of scalability for growth.
This section is the most narrative piece of the business case. In it you will describe how you intend to research service providers and the requisite solutions to make your website project successful. We recommend you have a sense going into this phase of your project who the key players are, what their solutions and services may cost, and how you feel about working with them. This will help better inform the narrative related to project timeline and delivery.
Finally, the real question you want to focus on here is, what is your outdated, unusable site actually costing you in lost opportunities?
- The cost of an inconsistently user-friendly website. The unconscious perception of frustration with your website across devices has an impact on customer loyalty and by extension, your bottom line.
- The cost of slow load times. Everything today is bigger, faster, stronger, better. Website visitors expect quick refresh rates and page loading time. Keep in mind, 40% of people abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load, and 57% of users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site.
- The cost of poor user data and analytics. If you are not able to glean actionable data from your website, you’re missing out on valuable information that should guide marketing decisions.
Building a business case can be a long and laborious process, but going through the exercise will help ensure success and secure executive buy-in and approval for your project.