1. Decide what you want your website to do for you. In other words, what are the objectives of the site? For example, are you looking for the website to generate new customers? Or is it simply an informational site for existing customers?
2. Who is the site aimed at? Try to imagine the type of visitor to the site. For example, women over 40.
3. How will those visitors find the site? Usually it will be through search engines. But increasingly people are getting to websites via social networking sites.
4. Do you want to sell products directly from the site? If your answer is yes don’t go rushing straight into a full blown eCommerce site. eCommerce sites are expensive and online retailing requires significant offline effort and changes to business processes which need careful planning. If your aim is to retail online, start small. You can do this with a few PayPal buttons on a fairly simple site and then work up to a larger site from there.
5. Don’t be lured into flashy graphics or wacky designs by your web designer. The website must look professional and be in keeping with your business but, at the end of the day, it is there to promote your business, not to demonstrate your web designer’s capabilities.
6. Keep it simple. This is about, what I call, the four W’s – visitors to the website wants to find out:
- What you do.
- Where you do it – the area in which you operate.
- Who do you do it to – your typical customer base.
- Why should the visitor let you do it to him – some proof that you can deliver.
7. Expect to update the site. If you want your website to by successful expect to have to put effort into keeping it updated with fresh content. Make sure from the start that you invest in a website design that can be easily updated.
8. Consider having a blog instead of a straight website. If you’re in a business (such as consultancy, accountancy, law or similar) where you need to provide updated information to your client base frequently, consider having a blog rather than a straight website. Blogs are much easier to update and they have the added bonus that search engines tend to prefer blogs.
9. Avoid do-it-yourself sites. They may look attractive when you see the ads on the TV. But in reality building one of these sites takes much more effort that the few simple clicks the adverts show.
10. Get a site that is search engine friendly. By search engine friendly, I mean that the site has been built so that it won’t by ignored by search engines. However, don’t let your web developer mislead you into thinking it means that search engine friendly will guarantee that the site will get to the top of Google, or indeed on the first page of Google. To do that you may need to invest in search engine optimization which, done properly, can cost a significant amount of money.