Managing Multiple Websites

When managing multiple websites (and potentially multiple web teams) there is often more at stake than budgets and personnel. Territory, control, power, and office politics often play their part. That’s why it’s important to remember what the real goal is: customer satisfaction.

However you choose to size your team or manage your budgets, your multiple websites should have some things in common.

1. Express your brand consistently across sites.
Every website, microsite, Facebook page, and LinkedIn group you manage should be on brand, including the appropriate logo, color palette, and imagery.

2. Stay on message from one site to the next.
Your brand is not just expressed through pictures. The words you use matter. Deliver your value proposition and marketing messages in a style and tone that feels consistent—if not identical then all from the same family—across your sites.

3. Include links to your parent organization and sibling brands on each web property.
Ease of navigation and transparency into your structure help your customers quickly find products and build trust in your business, respectively. We recommend consistent headers and footers showing how and where an individual site, product, or service sits within your overall offering with links up and down the whole brand family tree to parent, sibling, and subsidiary organizations. Think the footer consistently applied to each subsidiary company. Or try the header that appears on every school, department, office, and lab site.

4. Use similar (if not identical) navigation menus across sites.
If you’re a product company, each of your product sites will have features, benefits, and pricing. If you’re a college, each of your department sites will have academic requirements, faculty, and  courses. If you’re a theater group, each performance will have a description, actors, and dates and times. Whatever information you are presenting, try to present it consistently across your sites. That means in the same order, in the same place on the page, and using the same words from one site to the next. The content won’t be identical, and the page designs don’t have to be either. But giving consumers predictable and repeatable links will save them time when they compare products, services, and productions across your sites, which will make them feel good about you, and will increase their likelihood of buying whatever you’re selling. Compare the American Repertory Theater’s performance detail pages to those of the Oberon, the ART’s experimental second stage.

5. Reuse templates where possible.
Templates with a consistently placed logo, links to your home page, space for marketing messages, links to your corporate structure, and navigation to your offerings will save you time and money in the design and development of your sites. Reusable designs will also save your customers time, which will make you money, when they choose your easy-to-navigate site over your competitor’s.

These five easy design tips will improve your customer satisfaction and engagement with your sites and offerings. And tips 1-4 can be implemented without redesigning your whole site or sites.

This post is part of Black Pepper’s series answering commonly asked questions about technology and web user experience for non-profits and like-minded organizations.