How to build your business website?
There are many businesses out there, perhaps yours is one of them, who have never built a website.
If you really want to do it, here are a few useful tips .
First of all, and this is really obvious, treat your website build as something potentially important to your business. Why? Let me give you an example. Last year we built a site for a business that makes specialist musical instruments. The guy who owns and runs the business (Clem) approached the task on a – to be honest – “I might as well do it” – basis.
We were essentially, as far as Clem was concerned, adding an ability to buy his goods on the Internet where previously he had been retailing them in a more conventional manner.
Suffice to say, after a relatively short period of time (just nine months), the Internet side of his business has now easily overtaken the conventional retail side in terms of volume of sales and value of sales.
In short, the nagging feeling that Clem had — that he really should do something with his business on the Internet – was well and truly confirmed. He rang me last week to talk about doing some more dedicated Internet marketing with us to grow the business even further – and indeed to express his surprise that so much business was being generated -that now this side of it alone was a full-time job.
We have said to Clem from the very beginning that his business was particularly well suited to Internet development — as soon as he spent some time (an hour or so) telling us about his business and what he did and how he went about things — it became very obvious that this was the case. He was making a quality product, in a dedicated way, and this product was sellable world-wide.
So step two in approaching the task, after you’ve decided that the whole thing is quite important really — is to sit down with your chosen web developer and spend some time talking with them to tell them about what is different about your business and to make sure that they understand what it is you’re doing.
And as the little snippet of a case history above shows, choose someone to help you build who is going to be around for a while.
What kind of sites have they been working on over the last six months? Are they busy? Can they give you references from people that have worked with? What do their clients say about them?
And don’t be afraid to ask the kind of the kind of questions that you would ask any other supplier of services. What kind of range of skills can they offer you? Will they help you write a brief? Are they good at graphic design? If your site doesn’t look good or appropriate, they will be off somewhere else before you have time to say wait a minute I’ve actually got something great to sell. Do they look like they can handle typography? A lot of good website design these days hinges upon expert handling of type. Can they write copy? If your budget can’t stretch to original photography, do they have the ability to find good images for you?
Most important of all, have they got enough marketing expertise to actually help you write the brief?
What’s in a good brief anyway? And why write one at all?
The answer is a well-written brief will help to clearly define the task for you — and not just for you, for your website builders too. If you have an agreed brief before any graphics or coding work is done you have effectively helped to define the task carefully and clearly – in other words you’ve drawn the white lines around the playing field. A good brief helps you to clarify your own thoughts about your business and allows the objective thoughts of an outsider with marketing know-how to contribute to your business plans.
Then when you agree a budget for the job you know what you are getting for your money. There’s a working document to which you can both refer.
In our business, we usually do a production estimate first and then a site schematic. The site schematic shows you a map of your site in plain graphics . Once those two things have been done at that stage we agree costs — and once those costs are approved we write the final brief. We do this because writing the brief forms such a big part of the actual work and involves so many hours spent with the client — and indeed days spent working out the right plan — that we can’t afford to give it away for nothing.
A good brief should include — all the background to your business and what it’s doing- and the goods or products and services you are selling. It should define the job requirement, in language that you can understand, and the writers of the brief should be prepared to answer questions to make sure that you do understand. It should define the target audience – that is who your website is going to be talking to — and a flippant answer such as “the whole of the rest of the world” or “the entire Internet audience” should be treated with the contempt which it deserves .
Your brief should cover other issues such as your proposition, the support for your proposition, the tone of voice of the entire communication, and it should clearly define the timing of the Web planning and building activity.
There are plenty of other questions you should be thinking about asking as well, at this early stage in your web building activity. Your chosen web developer should be able to give you a few words of advice about the best way in which you can choose your URL — or domain name. It’s by no means as simple as it first appears and is in fact an extremely important step in finding the right web presence for your business. And just because web names are cheap, don’t expect buying and finding the right domain name for your business to be a dirt cheap activity. It ain’t necessarily so. You should allow your web developer to spend some time considering, recommending, searching and purchasing the right name for you. As we all know, time and money in any business endeavour are intimately related.