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Why do you need a website?

Feb 9th 2010

It sounds obvious, but so often we speak to people who assume they’re going to build the biggest website possible, they’re going to rank number 1 in Google the next day and it’s going to magically transform their business. The reality is often a different thing unless this question is thought through and applied carefully.
Some reasons you may want to consider are:

• To generate sales leads
• To boost my business’ credibility
• To allow people to find my business online
• To sell my products and service to generate additional revenue
• To provide an up to date information source for existing contacts and customers

What are your competitors doing online?

One simple thing to do is check their website for ideas. You’d be surprised at how many people don’t before deciding what to do with their own website.

Why not dig a little deeper and find out where they have links and where they’re advertising?
Simply type their website address surrounded by quotes for example “www.mycompetitor.com” in to Google and see for yourself.
Do you have a marketing strategy?

If you’re answer to that question is “not really, I just need a website for now thanks”, things might not work out as well as they could. Without having a serious plan for how you want to present your brand, what you want to say, who your potential customer is and how you want to communicate with them, you’re website will be nothing like as effective as it could be.

Who is your target audience?

It’s rare for a business to have only one. An effective website and search engine ranking is all geared around relevance. Pages can only be relevant if you know who you’re talking to and more to the point, what they’re looking for. Adding generic pages using generic words aimed at nobody in particular, might work, but adding specific pages that target each group of customers for example: trade versus retail, partners versus end user, will always relate better to the target reader.
How do you want people to perceive you?

It’s simple, the use of words like “we” and “our” instead of “I” and “my” for a start. Small things like this suggest your organisation is larger than it is. Other tricks are using a 0845 number, using virtual addresses to suggest multiple offices. We’ve all seen the multi-national looking website that turns out to be one person working from their spare bedroom.

Is it a good thing though? Sometimes it’s the up-front small business or one-person expert that people buy in to.

What do you want your potential customers to see?

Many people we speak to tell of all the content and available information they’d like to see on their website. The reality is, they’d never have the time to write it, and moreover their customer would likely never want to read it. Often the only visitors that are going to spend time trawling through every detail of your site are your competitors!

What can you do? Keep it simple. Often it’s best to keep it brief and keep your customer wanting more information, otherwise why would they contact you?

What do you want your potential customers to do?

Think carefully about the different types of customer and what you’d want them to read.

If you want your visitor to visit your portfolio page, add a prominent call to action that asks them to do so. If you want them to call you, ask them to do so. If you want your customer to complete an enquiry form…guess what! Get the picture?

Too many sites are unclear and don’t naturally guide their user throughout their website. Don’t let this be your website.

How are people going to find your website?

If you work on the basis that your website will have no ranking in Google for the first year, you’re not going to be disappointed. It takes a long time to achieve good search engine rankings, so work on the wider picture and your search engine rankings more often than not take care of themselves.

Google isn’t the only game in town though. Consider affiliate advertising, banner advertising, strategic linking, facebook advertising, use of social networks and finally Google.
How often do you plan to update your website?

A regularly updated website keeps the search engines keen to revisit and rank your website, but how often do you plan to update your website and what updates do you plan to make.
If your website needs to be updated regularly, consider a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS costs a little extra to set up, however, once set up it saves you money in the long term as you can update your website yourself.

What is your budget?

It’s always best to be realistic, but at the same time pay a fair price.

1) Always get at least 2 quotes
2) Don’t always go for the cheapest. Select who you feel offers the best all-round deal and understands your needs the best
3) For a static website, expect to pay between £99 and £200 per page, for a decent online shop, expect £1,500 – £15,000 depending on your requirements.

Finally, I’ve met many people over the years that have managed to negotiate the price of a piece of work down to far less than the web developer’s original quote and often to the point that the web developer may loose money. More often than not, the project ends up running in to difficulty with neither party winning out in the long term.

Ask yourself this? Would you be prepared to offer your time and skills to the same standard but at a fraction of the price everyone else pays?