Starting Out Right
You’d think that the first step to building a website is deciding how it should look, right? Not so fast! When an architect designs a building, the first questions aren’t about the style, or the color scheme. The first question is, “What’s the purpose of the building?”. Websites are no different! (In fact, as we go along, you’ll see that the website/building analogy is an extremely helpful way to approach a project).
Let’s start with the foundational questions about your website:
- What do you want to accomplish with the site?
You might want to sell your product, provide expert information, advertise a product, or help people find your store or contact you.
- Specifically, what does success look like? (Ex. In 1 year, 200 sales)
Be realistic! We’d all like to make a million bucks the first year, but unless you have a massive customer base already in place, or a huge marketing budget, it’s probably not gonna happen! The Internet is not made of rainbows and magic!
- What’s your plan to market the website?
Websites are unique in that they are part of the marketing plan, and yet must be marketed themselves! For a typical storefront business, a website is the intermediate step in a marketing plan. Space in a print ad, or on a billboard is costly, but in a website, space is free! This creates the perfect opportunity to use print ads to push people to your website, where you have all the space in the world to wow your potential customers!
- What’s your budget for marketing the site?
When considering your ‘website budget’, don’t overlook the cost of advertising the site! You don’t want to own a state-of-the-art website that no one knows about! (And no, SEO isn’t enough for a site to be successful! More on that later on.)
- Who will be responsible for maintaining the content on the site, on a regular basis?
The person maintaining the site doesn’t need to be a programmer, but should be tech-savvy enough to understand online etiquette, and be competent on a computer. They also need to have the time to make changes on a regular basis.
- Who are you building the site for?
Are we building the site for your current customer demographic, or for a new demographic? The new demographic could be a younger age, different economic level, or gender. If 90% of your customers fit into a specific demographic, then perhaps your company would probably benefit by expanding into a second demographic. This is especially true for companies with an aging clientele!
Now you may not have all the answers to those questions, and that’s ok! We can sit down and look at what options are available. You may be pleasantly surprised at the possibilities!
Tips for this stage:
- Don’t fixate on your competitor’s websites
- Or any website for that matter. Just because a site is nice, and you really like it, doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing for your business. A good website should illustrate what is unique about your business.
- Consider a phased project
- Do you have big dreams and a small budget? Most of us do! Let’s break the site down into smaller projects. The first phase could be the part of the website that has the best potential for increasing income(making the other phases possible!), or generate the most significant amount of traffice(which begins creating momentum for each successive phase.)