Having a website for your business long ceased to be a choice; the only question that remains is what kind of website you want to build. We are in the Information Age, and since making an entrance into our lives over 20 years ago, the Internet has revolutionized everything about how we can access information, making life much easier.
There are many factors that come to mind if you want to build a website. The elements, design, layout and even content will all be guided by the purpose for which the site exists. Every aspect of the site must work towards furthering this goal, so that the synergy between different aspects results in a site that is worth displaying to potential clients in your target market.
Below, we offer three pointers to guide you through the planning phase before embarking on any actual design work. If you get the plan right the first time, everything will seamlessly flow from there.
- The goal
Even before identifying the design team or mapping out elements and choosing colors, you must have a clear picture for what you want the site to accomplish for your business. By accurately defining what your website must do, the work of design will become much easier – choosing what the site will have, how it will look, where it will go, how it will be marketed – all these find their meaning in the purpose or goal.
More importantly, the purpose will determine the kind of content to be served up to your audience and how it should be presented. For example, if you run professional consultancy services, then you know you audience would be better served by a blog instead of a portal. If you are looking to sell your products online then what you need is a full-fledged online store with all the information to complete a purchase readily available.
- The marketing strategy
There are billions of pages and sites on the Internet today. A good fraction of these have great content and are very well built. But the reason you may never see some of them is that they lack a proper marketing strategy. There are two major angles to pursue in marketing: online and offline marketing.
Online marketing refers to the collection of techniques employed over the Internet to improve online visibility – social media marketing, search engine marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, content marketing among others. Your strategy must have a healthy balance with all these techniques for maximum efficacy.
Offline marketing involves efforts away from the Internet and includes most of the conventional advertising schemes. Other useful methods include exhibitions and promotions, ads in periodicals and posters, road shows, positive referrals, discounts and offers among others.
- The cost
Many website owners start here and never get any further. While important, cost should not be the paramount consideration when building your website. There are many ways to get what you want within the budget that you have to work with. Cost also has two components: the one-time fee charged by your design and development team to build the site, and the recurring costs of web-hosting, registration of the domain name, maintenance, optimization, link-building and other administrative duties.
Where you need specialized software to help in the design and/or maintenance phases, you may have to incur additional charges to acquire this software. Depending on your budget, you can decide how much of the work to outsource. For instance, you can outsource the main tasks and train yourself or a member in your staff to handle the day-to-day administration of the site where you have a limited budget.
Bear these in mind also as you go about selection of a website designer to ensure that you get the highest value for money. Remember, the best designer is not necessarily the biggest, most experienced or most expensive on the list. Rather, you are looking for a person or team that demonstrates an understanding of your goals and strategies and has a solid plan of action to help you move closer to their achievement through your website.