What to consider when getting a new website built

Posted by: Ashley Bryan

What to consider when getting a new website built

Over the coming years electronic communication and commerce will inevitably increase at a faster rate then ever before.  The Internet gold rush is over, and now websites must compete for cyberspace, eyeballs and the dollar.  It is time for web development to become more focused on quality rather than quantity, effectiveness rather than glamour.

Your website advertises your business.  So do it right.  If you have a website, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the objectives of my website?
  • Can the objectives of my site be met?
  • Does everything on my site work the way it should?
  • Is all the information on my site up to date?
  • Does the look of my site reflect my business and my image?
  • What impression does my home page give?
  • Can my site be found on the net?

If you are thinking about having a website built, these are questions that will be relevant to you also.  You need to have addressed those during the planning phase of your website development.  Your website can be a cost-effective and valuable marketing tool which, when used complementarily to your existing marketing plans, can help to grow and expand your business. Your website should work for your business effectively, and there are some basic steps you can follow when starting off, that can help make that happen.

Plan it
Think it through, map it out and determine what the objectives of your website are. They may be to advertise or sell your products or services, impart information, gather information or to teach something to the users of your site. Consider impact!  What will be the first impression that users of your website when they open your homepage for the first time?

What content do you really need?  Remember site flow, and how users will navigate through the site, moving through the pages, and using the links.  Is it sensible and logical?  And of course make it easy for people to contact you!  That’s what your site is for!  So plan the site, get feedback from others, and get it working correctly from the outset.

Build it
There are two options here.  Build it yourself, or obtain the services of a web development company.  The first option is noble and ambitious (unless you actually are a web developer!) but if you are serious about a website I wouldn’t recommend it.  A poorly developed site will probably do your business more harm than good. As your site is being constructed, review progress with your web developer periodically to ensure your and their expectations are being met.

Test it
A brand new website should be tested thoroughly, especially in instances where there is a level of inbuilt functionality in the site, such as database searches, form submissions, shopping facilities and online payment.  Make sure everything works as you think it should.  A good idea, as in many situations, is to put yourself in your target market’s shoes, and use your own site from their perspective

Market it
A website that no one visits will not generate a lot of business for you.  Market it.  Obviously put it on your business cards and other stationery and advertising, but it may also be appropriate for you to market the site in its own right.  Where do you market a website?  Well it seems sensible that you could always start to market your site where users of your products or services currently look for your products and services

Measure it
How do you know if your site is working for you?  More phone calls generating more business?  Contacts made with you from the site contact form? Sure is!  The first and most logical thing to do is to research where your leads are coming from.  Ask people making enquiries where they heard about you and get feedback from customers and users of the site as to how user-friendly they found it, and what were it’s good points and not so good points.   As well as this you must analyse your website statistics.  These website stats can really tell you a lot about the patterns of traffic to, from and within your website, as well as from where and what systems the users of your site are using.  You should use this data to refine your site and to make decisions about the future development of it.

Manage it
So you have launched a website and can now sit back and wait for the business to roll in?  Don’t you believe it.  There are very few websites that require no management, maintenance or review on an ongoing, if periodic, basis.  If you have good traffic to your site and want to ensure they return then you will need to refresh the content periodically to keep interest.  Content Management in the general sense is vital too: keep your contact details up to date, remove old products or services and add new ones so that interest is retained.

So there are some of the fundamentals of website planning and operation.  Don’t forget: start small if you are unsure, and plan to expand over time as you review the effectiveness of your website.   When your website really starts to work for you, you can expand out into other related areas if appropriate for your business, such as email marketing and website marketing.  These are great ways of spreading the word about your services or products, and of keeping your business top of mind.