The Power of Three drives many things we do at M3 Group. Our trademarked M3 Method is built on three phases: Magnify, Motivate and Mobilize. This process also drives our website development projects — like the recent redesign of the new website for F.D. Hayes Electric Co. Building a website is not unlike building a house: You survey the site, develop your plan and then construct. Let’s see how that works.
The Magnify phase helps save money, improve impact and clarify outcomes for your website. We’ve seen some companies struggle as they’re quick to skip over it because they just “want a website.” Your website can play a variety of roles for visitors. Getting an understanding of what you want your website to achieve is critical. That’s where Magnify comes in. It’s also where companies like F.D. Hayes reap the rewards of doing the homework.
We begin the Magnify phase by determining key objectives that determine success. For F.D. Hayes, the company’s overarching goals were simple:
Those objectives helped guide the rest of the F.D. Hayes project. The research, site architecture, design and content in later phases are all focused on meeting the initial goals that have been identified in Magnify.
After determining objectives, we begin our research process. We look at competitor websites and industry websites that are comparable in scope. During this process we consider aesthetics, functionality, search engine friendliness, content and other variables. We also look for any industry-specific standards or conventions that must be addressed. If they are available, we use the tools in Google Analytics and/or Google Search Console to understand traffic and visitor behaviors. In the case of F.D. Hayes, the company did not have those tools deployed on its website, so enabling them was added to the priority list.
If appropriate to the scale of your website project, this is also the best time to run other discovery projects such as focus groups, key audience interviews, user testing and other advanced research design to deliver additional insight into the needs of your web audience.
M3’s Motivate phase is where we begin the heavy lifting of planning your website and creating the visual experience.
We start with a site architecture — the blueprint for your new website. This document groups elements and topics in a logical flow for ease of visitor usability. The site architecture also identifies the elements that must be represented in site navigation. For F.D. Hayes, this meant aligning service offerings to key segments — in this case, residential and commercial applications that have very different needs. We also added primary navigation for service work designed to make it easy for new and returning visitors to engage with the service team.
With a client-approved site architecture, this is where the design work truly begins. We begin with low-fidelity wireframes, the first step in the journey to a fully developed visual interface. These wireframes show visual relationships, help illustrate how navigation will function and are the first iteration toward a final site design. We find the wireframe is an excellent opportunity for the client to give critical feedback.
Once the low-fidelity wireframe is approved, we begin developing high-fidelity wireframes that use real photos, graphics and, in some cases, copy. Now your site is starting to take shape and look like a “real” website.
The prototype is the next step, and it is where our design and development teams intersect directly. M3 developers take an approved high-fidelity web design and build it out into code. Typically, this takes the form of a homepage and one to two other pages. The finished prototype enables our clients to “try their website on” before large-scale development starts.
Prototypes are especially imperative for large-scale websites. Because the prototype is easier to update than a fully or even partially developed website, investing in prototypes is a source of insurance and peace of mind that you know what you’re getting.
During the Motivate phase, we also develop the content — both words and pictures — that will be used to create your completed website. Content is the single most important item when it comes to search engine optimization. Without high-powered copy, your website will suffer with lower results on search engines, as well as creating a poor user experience.
With all the raw ingredients for your website assembled, the chef/developer can now start to construct your final website. There are no questions left, and no stone unturned at this point.
Guided by the site architecture, our development team begins the process of coding every individual page. For smaller website, this process happens very quickly. In a more large-scale enterprise website, this process might take weeks to complete. During this process, we meet with clients on a weekly or biweekly basis to ensure the project is on track and address any new questions that come up from either the developer or client.
Once the site is built, we’re ready to go live! The go-live process involves ensuring previously accessible pages are still accessible or are pointed to their new home. We have a redirect plan that lists out all previous pages the site had and points them to the new site structure. The redirect plan helps your new site get early traction by leveraging your previous site’s SEO.
At site launch, we also install the desired analytic software and ensure the site is verified on the Google Search Console. We also ensure Google My Business is updated to reflect any changes and maximize search engine exposure.
What? A fourth step? I thought you were M3?
After the site is live, it’s important to monitor its performance. We did a lot of research to come to our decisions, but now is the time to make sure the website is functioning as expected and engaging visitors. The first few months are vital for discovering if there are any issues with your new structure or if your performance metrics are being met.
From a content perspective, a website is much like publishing a newspaper — it’s never done! To keep audiences coming back, you need fresh content like blogs, articles, news updates, videos and more. These items help not only viewers but also help Google and other search engines see you’re a business worth indexing strongly.
We recommend our clients leverage a site audit 90 days after launch. At this audit, we recommend any changes we think we can make to improve the user experience and search engine performance.
Your website is only one piece of your overall brand. It’s important that your site launch is empowered by a marketing plan to make sure you’re getting the most value out of your new web presence. Whether that’s promotion through social media channels, in paid search or in advertising, we can help you. Visit us at m3group.biz.
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