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A Strong and Powerful Foundation

by Ninive Badilescu

Designing, upgrading or even just re-focusing your website is not an easy task, and even more so when the foundation of the whole project is set on shaky ground. Let’s look at what is bound to strengthen it and make it the starting point for a less stressful, less time consuming and most of all less expensive experience. Oh...and I forgot to mention: a much more successful result. Take a piece of paper and write the following questions and your answers before you take another step towards building or enhancing your web site.

Why do I need a website and what do I expect to accomplish from having one?

Failing to answer this question before you start your work is the costlier mistake you can make. There are so many sites out there that have clearly ignored this step in their planning. When asking yourself “Why do I need a website” go beyond the obvious answers such as: to be out there, everybody has one, people are asking me about our web site, etc. It is important to know what your expectations are.

Do you want to have a simple web presence, a so-called “electronic brochure”?

This would mean that your site will only display static pages with little or no visitor interaction and its role will be to give an overall presentation of your services or products. If you would like to have your website as an integral part of doing business the scenario and requirements are quite different. You will need to reproduce business systems using back-end development, your site will be much larger, the skills needed to building it will be quite advanced, etc. If to this you want to add an e-commerce facility you add in fact another layer of functionality that can only be achieved with yet more specialised skills. Of course there is always the “in-between” scenario where you offer more than just static pages but less than fully automated on-line business processes. The reality is that there is no one-size fits all solution and each company will have to invest the time in defining and scoping the functional requirements for the website long before they start working on it. Failing that you will have to deal with the costly results of a website that does not help your company in anyway and the prospect of having to do it all over again. Take the time to see where the website fits in your business and the business processes you conduct and design it accordingly.

Who is going to use my site?

Defining the market or the niche you are planing to attract to your site is another very important step that needs to be taken before you start building it.

Why?

Because you have to give your market the right tool if you want to have the right results. When I say right tool I am talking about considering the level of computer literacy you are expecting from your visitors, the level of trust they are likely to have in an online experience, the age group for which you choose the design and layout, the type of products or services you offer and who are the likely customers for them, what are their interest you can use to design and develop add-on products for on-line visitors, etc. We fix your car transmission at your office within 3 hours (busy/successful professionals who can afford the higher price, high level of computer literacy, easy access to on-line features, confident in using on line functions, time poor and need easy access and fast loading pages), we offer retirement planning for people over 65 (low level of computer literacy, low level of access to the Internet, less confident in using on-line functions), we offer best mp3 downloads for those under 25 (young people with lots of computer time, interested in low price/high quality music file downloads, confident in using the computers but not necessarily ready for on-line purchasing). These three examples will require a different approach in design and site functionality to appeal to the targeted market.

What are my strengths?/Why would the visitors want to come to my site?

Define clearly what sets you apart from your competitors. Don’t stress the very obvious such as quality (I have yet to see a business priding itself in having non-quality products/services), better (all businesses are convinced that their products are better than the next ones), etc. Be specific and stress the very core of what sets you apart: dedicated account manager, 24 hours door-to-door delivery, same day response, etc. The more competitors are out there the more specific you have to become in defining your competitive edge. Once you define it make sure that your website reflects it and reinforces it throughout. A sale does not take place unless you offer something that matches the market’s needs (personalised customer service, fast door-to-door delivery time, same day response for specific enquiries, etc). You have to promote your solutions rather than try and sell your products. This is what attracts visitors to your site and this is what will ultimately transform them into buyers. Of course there are so many more questions that come to mind and many of them will come up for you while the development of the website is on its way. However keeping in mind the three questions we talked about here will ensure a strong and powerful foundation for developing a winning web presence. Having the answers to these questions before you start the actual work will mean less effort, less time and most importantly less expenses in the long run.

Why?

Because you will have a strong and powerful foundation ready for you to build on.

about the author
Ninive is the founder of UAchieve Coaching. If you are a small business owner wanting to grow your existing business, a professional wanting to start your own business or someone who has it all but wants to regain the quality of life, Ninive will help you achieve your goals faster and easier and save money in the process. Visit her web site at: http://www.uachievecoaching.com

 


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