So you’ve decided to listen to the resounding voice of the crowd telling you to get a website. Well, this is great news, as almost all businesses can benefit from having a dedicated website to help them promote their business and engage customers or clients.
Offline sales strategies, word of mouth and even online directories can be valuable marketing strategies for businesses, but work best when complimented with a dedicated business website.
“Ok I know I need a website but where do I start?” Below are a few tips to help you getting started with planning your website:
1 – Decide on the type of website you need
It’s critically important before you jump in, to dedicate enough time to thinking about the purpose of the website you want to build – I cannot stress this enough. It’s vital that you consider what the website is actually hoping to achieve and what your goals are for it. For example, do you want it to:
- Sell products and services?
- Collect customer information?
- Provide online quotes and generate leads?
- Establish credentials and credibility?
- or simply be a source of information (like an online brochure)
You can then go into more detail. If you plan to sell products online, you will need an e-commerce website. But how much you anticipate selling may determine the person or organisation you choose to build it and the platform they use to do so. If you aim to collect customer information, be specific and know in advance the details you’re after.
After spending time considering your goals, it’s time to decide how much time and money you will invest in it.
2 – Return On Investment
Websites can be costly so it’s important to determine what it’s worth to you. You have to be sure that the money you spend is going to give sufficient Return On Investment (ROI) – with websites this can be tricky to measure.
An initial idea could be to compare your Online strategies against your Offline Strategies. For example if you wanted to distribute 1000 brochures to people in the area promoting your business, you may have to pay for 1) someone to design the brochure; 2) the printing costs; and 3) someone to distribute it. The total costs for all this might come to $2000 ($2 per person who receives a brochure) and this marketing exercise might return 20 new customers. If each customer is worth $200 to me, I’ve made a good return on my initial investment.
In the same way, plan to calculate the total costs of building and maintaining your website and it’s proposed return. If you don’t think that it could possibly make back the money you spend through generating new business or through another unit of value which you place on it, then perhaps a website isn’t the best strategy for you.
3 – Decide who will build it
Next you need to decide who will build it. Below are 3 common options; watch for further blogs on Digital Ready over the coming weeks digging deeper into these options:
Hire a Web Developer
Hiring a web developer might seem like the simplest approach, but many business owners find themselves investing a lot of time managing the process in order to get the desired result. Don’t expect that all you need to do is hand over the money and your website will magically appear exactly how you’d pictured it, Wahlah! - It’s generally not that simple as that. It can take planning, communicating back and forth and a lot of negotiation to get the result you’re after. Be very clear on from the beginning what your expectations are so there are no nasty surprises down the track.
Do it Yourself (DIY)
The other approach is to do it yourself. Although it’s never been easier to build your own website, it can still be a time-consuming, frustrating and mind-boggling experience. Unless you’re the techsavvy type and have a fair amount of time up your sleeve to learn the tools of the trade, it might be best to outsource this task to a web developer. The dangers are, you may end up with a site that doesn’t properly convey your brand image or the functionality you need. Outsourcing also allows you to focus more time on running the other areas of your business, which may prove to be more valuable in the long run. It all comes back to ROI and on deciding what the website is worth to you. Would investing more money into the website through outsourcing this task ultimately generate more business? This is a question you have to ask yourself.
Get Uncle Joe to do it
Getting a friend or family member to build your website, may seem logical at first, but can lead to dramas down the track. It you’re not happy with the result, it can be trickier to ask them to change it down the track, especially if they offered to do it for free or at ‘mates rates’. A professional web developer will plan the website with you and give you options to modify it if you’re not happy with something. They may also provide some training in how to manage the site or make simple modifications.
Step 4: Test and review
So your website is built and you’re ready to launch. It’s always a good idea to test the site before you launch it to the public. Ask friends and family to jump on and give their feedback. Ask them to run through the pages like customer or client might and take notes. If there are any links that don’t work and any spelling/grammar mistakes these should be rectified in advance.
Like any marketing exercise it’s always good to regularly review it so you can measure whether your investment is having ample impact. Do a review after 6 or 12 months. Talk directly with customers/clients asking them if they’ve used the site and if so, what their experience was like. Look at the Analytics (eg Google analytics, Yahoo analytics, etc ) of your site to determine how many views it is getting and the most popular pages. Try and get as much feedback as possible and use this as the basis from which you perform future website modifications.