A viable business no longer has an option not to have a website. So the only question is: Are you going to have a world-class website, or one that’s thrown together and doomed to fail?
If “world-class” is your answer, you’re going to need a plan. Great websites don’t happen by accident.
Here’s a sure-fire 7 Step Plan that has proven itself effective over the hundreds of times we’ve used it to build business websites for our clients. You can be sure it will work for you.
Here’s what you do:
1. Define your website goals.
If you don’t have a clear idea of what your website is supposed to do, you don’t have any chance of it meeting your business requirements. Here are some common goals. Yours may vary.
- Build your brand
- Sell your product or services
- Provide customer support
- Drive traffic to your offline business
- Distribute Product or Service Literature
- Create a community portal
Whatever your website goal is, write it down.
2. Create a online marketing plan
Before you invest any money at all in creating your website, think about how you are going to attract traffic. Just like an offline business, the cash register is not going to ring unless customers stop by.
You need to create a Web marketing plan that defines the strategies you will use not only to attract visitors, but to convert those visitors to buyers and repeat customers.
There are 5 basic website marketing strategies that work very well. Your job is to create a plan, and a budget, that will enable you to use these strategies to build your business.
- Search Engine Optimization
- Pay per Click Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Marketing Using Articles
- Marketing Using Press Releases
But be careful. You can throw a lot of money at marketing and not get a dime in return. So make sure you understand everything about how to implement each of these strategies so you get the best return on your investment. Even a small mistake can cost you a lot.
3. Create a web design plan
A successful business website needs more than flashy graphics. In fact, if your graphics are too flashy, it could drive customers away.
A well-designed website communicates your company’s professionalism and dedication to quality. And since you have about 10 seconds to make a good first impression, you need to get the design right.
Here are the design elements you need to cover in your plan:
- Site StructureDefine what links will be available to visitors and where they will they lead.
Determine the critical path that leads from the home page to the order form and checkout page.
Make sure your visitors can’t get distracted or confused while they are following that critical path.
- Visual Design
Choose a template design, logo design, dominant site colors, font sizes and typeface. Line up product shots and other supporting graphics you need to properly showcase your products or services.
- Define Site Functionality
Determine what your shopping cart, log in and contact form requirements are. Decide if you need a follow-up autoresponder, database, and any other technical requirements.
Once you have completed the design phase, it’s time for the real work to begin.
4. Prioritize your tasks
Now’s the time to go through your marketing and web design plan and turn every action item into a task. Prioritize those tasks and determine who is responsible for accomplishing them.
You also need to determine who is responsible for monitoring progress and signing off on each task as it is completed.
5. Hire the right resources
This is not the place to cut corners. Don’t try to shoehorn a programmer into a designer’s job, or try to make a copywriter out of a designer.
Determine the proper skills required for each task, and the skill level needed to accomplish that task.
Then start the interviewing and hiring process.
6. Execute the tasks as per priority
There’s not much to say here. You have a plan; stick with it. If a task doesn’t get completed on time, you may need to adjust the delivery dates of the remaining tasks. This can throw you way behind schedule, so try hard to keep everyone on track.
7. Analyze results
Everything done? Then it’s time to walk through the entire website, click every link, carefully examine every image, and read every word of content. If something’s not right, notify the person responsible for that task and have it corrected.
Hopefully you understand why I wrote “Great websites don’t happen by accident.” There’s a lot of work to do, so if you’re not up to the task, hire a professional website development company to do it for you.