Website planning – 4 questions to ask yourself

Customers ask us all the time, “What should I have on my website?”  There is no universal set of rules.  Each business has different needs, and part of our job is working with clients to figure out their unique needs. 

If you are thinking of creating your first website or evolving your current site, there are a few simple questions that you can ask yourself to get pointed in the right direction. 

Can I afford a website?

The first question that you may ask yourself is, “Can I afford a website?”  The question that you should be asking yourself is, “Can I afford not to have a site?”  In today’s connected world, websites play a central role in how you market your business.  When a consumer wants to learn more about a service or a product, one of the first things they do is perform an Internet search to start gathering information.

If you are not online, or your web presence is not up to par, you will ultimately lose business to your competitors that are.  If you want to build a great website, you will need to spend some money.  Don’t cut corners– If consumers think that your site is unprofessional, they will feel the same way about your company.

What will my website be used for?

Will your site just provide basic information?  If so, then the essential screens of home, contact us and a products/services page may fit the bill.  Will your sales staff use your website as a sales tool?  In that case, think about incorporating testimonials, case studies and a portfolio. Will you use your site to inform your customers and prospects?  Consider a blog as well as screens for news, events, media, publication and outside resources. 

The lists of uses for your website are endless, and so are the solutions.  You need to think like your prospects and anticipate what they will need out of your site. 

Who will my website audience be?

Is your target audience retired or nearing retirement?  If so, you may need to have a high-contrast site where visitors can select a larger type size.  What computer equipment will they likely have?  If your target audience consists of IT personnel with high-tech computer equipment, your website will be much different than if you are trying to communicate with mass consumers.  What is the education level of your audience?  If your audience has limited literacy and language skills, you must ensure that your copy is accessible to them.  The most successful sites communicate with their audiences on their audience’s terms.

How do you want people to get to your site?

Will you and your sales staff direct consumers and prospects to your site, or will you want them to find you through organic searches?  If you want them to find you, consider search engine optimization (SEO).  The surest bet for SEO is to make sure that your content is aimed at human beings, not search engine spiders.   The algorithms for search engine spiders are constantly changing, but they always take into account the distinction between sites with useful information and sites that only pander to search engines. 

Although there is a lot more that goes into the creation of a website, the basic takeaway is that you have to think like your end user.  Customers and prospects pay attention to a great website that speaks to them on their terms, while not-so-great sites get ignored.   Giving your audience what they need will ultimately help you achieve your sales goals.

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