Most business owners understand the importance of having a Web presence. A well thought out and slickly executed website will increase your company’s profile and open doors for increased sales. However, the pitfall that a lot of companies fall into is to jump straight into building their website without giving adequate time to planning what exactly they want their website to achieve. The result is often a jumbled mess that fails to deliver either value to customers or value to the business.
It’s common sense that successful websites need to be planned out. What may be less clear are the various elements that need to go into that planning process.
Why Do You Need a Website?
If your initial answer to this is “because everyone has a website” or “to make money,” then you need to delve a little deeper. With your individual business and industry in mind, what are the specifics that you intend your website to deliver? Is it intended primarily to be brochureware that drives traffic to your physical outlets? Or do you envisage the website being an ecommerce portal, focused on online sales?
Who Are Your Customers?
Knowing your target audience is vital to creating a successful website. To give an obvious example, if your audience is teenagers, the tone of copy and the site design will likely be very different than if your target segment is silver surfers, or other businesses. There will be occasions where your company caters for a broad spectrum of customers and thought will need to be given to how you create a coherent website that will appeal to disparate groups.
Agree on Your Budget
As a business, your bottom line will always be to generate return on investment. You need to be clear on how much revenue you expect to generate and, therefore, how much you are prepared to spend on the website build and maintenance.
Decide Whether to Outsource
You will need to decide whether to build the website in-house, or whether it’s better to outsource the development. This will largely depend upon the level of sophistication that you require, how much in-house expertise you have, and your budget.
Put users at the Heart of Your Design
Whether we’re talking about business in the online or offline world, usability is always at the heart of truly successful businesses. Usability is about thinking of the end users’ needs and designing customer journeys that are effortless. This should take into consideration such things as the users’ education levels, physical capabilities and attitudes.