Being a web designer for hire, I am often approached by prospective clients with many different inquiries. I have found that people usually fall into a couple major categories. There are those who don’t think they need a website at all. Then there are beginners who are not sure what they need or exactly the reasons why, but they just know a website should probably be built ASAP. Then there are those seasoned business owners who know the process and have done it all before successfully. Lastly, there are those clients who think they know everything and want the world (and maybe more). Certainly these are all extremes, but I think it helps to address these groups regarding why a good website is essential to you and your business.
I Don’t Need A Website
For those of you who do not think an online presence is necessary, please wake up and smell the technology. Certainly in 2009, if not many years ago already, consumers expect businesses to have an online presence at the least. I think it is as essential as having a telephone number and a business address where people can reach you, only the digital version. Many businesses who are doing well do not realize the potential for growth if they were to expand online and reach a completely different audience. I have witnessed brick and mortar shops gaining new customers as their website generated new leads for them. Once people became customers, they were reoccurring visitors to the brick and mortar shop, but the website continued to recruit new leads. Realize that the investment of building and maintaining a website leads not only to web presence but also provides advertising with 24/7 global reach and even education, support, community and feedback for research if you should choose.
Getting Started Online
Once you realize that a website is essential to your business, stop and think about the specific goals you want to achieve through your website. Beginners often jump into throwing up something or another ASAP to get into the online game. Remember that whatever you put out into the world is a reflection of your business. You would invest a good amount of time for such things as accounting I’m sure, why not your website as well? This is when the pivotal word comes in, you need a good website, not just any website. What does a good website mean? Well, it depends on what you are specifically trying to achieve. What are your business goals and expectations in order to consider the website a success? Quite often projects go by where owners have no measure of success – besides just getting it done. I think we can do better than just getting it done.
A good website will not only give you a place on the Internet, but more specifically your very own unique digital presence online. How do you want your business to be perceived? It can either build or ruin credibility for your image, so you must ensure quality of design. The site should not be purple because it is your favorite color, rather think about what you want customers to see as their first impression of your business. Ensure usability on your website, so users can easily find what they want and need as well as accessibility for mobile phones, screen readers and other forms of access you want to support. Finally, ensure that the ultimate goals for your website are reached and you can mark your project as a success. Do you want to generate x amount of leads per month? Do you want to reduce the amount of support phone calls by providing information online? Do you want to announce events online so it is easily available to your audience 24/7?
The Usual Suspects
Seasoned business professionals will agree that building a website for your business takes time and thought. Also realize that although you hire a professional to design and develop the site – the business is yours and you are the expert on that front. It’s a collaborative process, not a one-way street. The client presents the project, the professional and the client work together to go over research and pertinent analysis in order to discuss possible solutions. Only when a suitable solution is agreed upon can the professional actually execute. Coming from a project management background, I can tell you that every project, no matter what industry, goes through a series of similar steps. It’s the particulars, specific questions and methods that might change per field – but ideologically a project is a project is a project… There is a “problem” and multiple solutions exist, each with varying attributes, pros and cons. The best solution for the client must be decided upon, so the professional can execute. I note that there might be multiple solutions, because that is always the case. We weigh the varying factors and decide collectively what is best for the current situation. There are a million ways to skin a cat, right?
Those Who Want It All
In my corporate experience I have often encountered clients that knew absolutely everything. Or at least they certainly thought so. Not only do they usually want it all, they want it fast, good and cheap. I can tell you that the constraints of any endeavor are scope, time and cost. The infamous triangle of constraints – tweaking one side means you invariably affect the other sides of the triangle. Depending on how you allocate your efforts a certain type of quality results in the product you create or the service you provide. Suffice to say you can’t have it all. For example, if you want something done by tomorrow which normally takes a week, since you are tweaking time, the cost might go up and the scope might go down. I should also note sometimes requests are humanly impossible. Something has got to give, so don’t forget the triangle of constraints!
A Good Website For Your Business and Your Needs
Your specific business goals could range from creating an online presence only or perhaps also to sell products through e-commerce, advertise new services, promote an endeavor, educate and inform the masses or provide support, community or feedback to customers. Certainly every business needs a website, but remember more importantly that what you really want is a good website. It will not only meet your needs as a business owner but also your potential customers’ needs who are probably searching around for your website right now…
Entreprenaur.com article “Why You Need A Website”