So you want to take your business on-line? Or do you have a website already and thinking about a redesign to better address your changing business needs?
“This should be easy,” you think. “I can create some nifty PowerPoint presentations, what else do I need to know?”
Before you start putting down any amount of money, here are a few ideas you need to think through before setting sights on your dream website.
- Do I really need an online presence?
Yes! Bill Gates once remarked that every day a business is not online, they lose business. Are your competitors on-line? Then you probably should be, too!
- Who is your target audience?
Think about not only who you want to come to your site (such as potential clients), but also secondary audiences – those searching for related products or services who may also find value in your website.
- What do I want my website to do?
This will help you focus on the message you hope to deliver and *how* you want to deliver it. For example, if you are a consultant, you probably want to make sure that you stand out as an “expert” in your field. A blog is a very good way to establish yourself online as well as provide foot traffic to your site. Regular email blasts/e-newsletters can also help you keep in touch with your clients.
- Do it yourself vs. hiring a professional?
While it may be tempting to buy a template provided by a hosting service or a professional organization and develop the content on your own, think about these points.
- How much is this going to cost me?
- There will be recurring costs such as web hosting and domain registration, starting around $80+ a year.
- If you are running an e-commerce site, plan on purchasing and renewing a Secured Socket Layer (SSL) certificate to give your customers the peace of mind while entering sensitive credit card information.
- Do you need additional software or custom software? License for software can run a few hundred dollars. An experienced, professional web developer can charge up to $100/hour.
- Make sure you also plan for related costs such as web and technical maintenance as well as back-up services. [/lts_list]
- Are there security risks?
If you are planning to have an e-commerce site, or a site that allows users to comment online, such as a blog, there can be malicious attempts to hack your site. As part of my technical maintenance plan, I frequently update and add security patches to these types of sites for my clients. I also keep an eye out for any suspicious or spam posts and set up for frequent back-ups of the databases.
- Will my site be ranked 1st on Google right away? How will people find me?
Search engine optimization (SEO) starts with the construction of the website itself and extends with how your site is linked to the rest of the world. Even if you have the most beautifully designed website, your target audience won’t be able to find you without a little added work on your part. I will work with you to define key words and construct the website in such a way that makes search engines (and you!) happy!
- Know your competition!
People will judge your site on how it compares with others in your line of business. If your site looks homegrown, has broken links, or takes a long time to load, you will have given your competitors the edge. Before creating a new website for a client, I research their competition – what kind of site do they offer? What functions does their site do? Then, I bring those findings and consult with my client what ways I can give them the edge over their competitors.
- Know thyself! While your site is a reflection on you, you still want to keep your message first, displayed in a professional manner, and your personality second.
Website building is a fun process, but one that will take time and effort to see through. I am happy to hold your hand every step of the way!
I am available for a free consultation on how I can help you to bring your business online.