The goals of a website are critically important to its implementation. Additionally, the goals that you lay out for your website help define the next phases of its creation.
In the previous article I presented a few scenarios for getting a website.
- simple “ad” type website – The goal is simply a basic static phone-book type ad.
- informational website – A larger repository for information such as owners manuals, brochures and the like.
- interactive website – The goal is to engage your customers directly in another forum.
The goal for the first item is simple. It is to “just have a website”. It is basic, relatively cheap and requires little in the way of maintenance. This kind of website may have a simple design, store hours, contact information a few pictures and call it good. It is simply a way for people to find you on the web, get some basic info about you and call or get your address.
After this category things start to escalate in complexity and things that need to be considered.
If your goal is to have an informational type website a few considerations come in to play. You will have to manage the information. If you don’t want to learn to do it yourself then the project will need to hire and keep a web developer on contract or a Content Management Solution (CMS) of some sort. While there ARE out of the box CMS solutions such as Drupal, WordPress and the like, a web developer/designer will need to set up and customize the site.
I dubbed the last example “interactive”. This is different from the typical definition in that I am referring to actively engaging and both giving your customers a voice and interacting with them. This can be a great way to foster customer loyalty and address issues. If you sell products can the consumer post reviews?
This “interactive” example will definitely need a CMS, initial developer as well as clearly defined staff, time and energy directed at maintaining and addressing the site.
One of the FIRST topics of conversation with potential clients and their website is expectations. A lot of people have an “if you build it they will come” mentality regarding a website and this could not be further from the truth. A website is an investment and a tool. It needs to be maintained, refreshed and periodically audited to make sure it is safe for visitors, giving you the SEO benefit you need and still serving your goals. It is requires work and effort. Potentially very profitable work, but work nonetheless.
I do not want to infer that just the basic website is bad. If a person is unable or unwilling to devote the time and necessary energy for website upkeep (and it can be a lot) then it is best to just keep it simple with your web presence. With more site, comes more benefits as well as cost, time needed to devote to it and energy.
Define your goals, make sure they will work within your time, staff and budget and we can move on from there.
Next, we will look at your audience and some considerations in trying to reach them.