Before you rush out to have a website build (hopefully by a professional firm), there are quite a few questions you first have to ask yourself. If you skip this process, you might end up spending a lot of money on a website that does not do what you expected it would do. Below are examples of things you need to get clarity about before taking the next step.
1. Why do you want a website in the first place?
Like with nearly everything else in life, if you do not know where you want to go, you are unlikely to get there. A website that aims to sell products or services to the public will have a different design and layout than one that aims to build the company’s brand. And if your main goal is to get subscribers for your mailing list, the website should follow a different approach altogether.
2. Who is your target audience?
Who are the people you want to visit your website? If you sell hobby kits for retired people your site should look quite different and have a different structure than if you sell the latest teen fashions. Knowing who you want to reach with your website is a very important aspect of your future success or failure.
3. How will these people find your website?
The old saying that ‘build it and they will come’ might have been true in those golden first days of the Internet. Nowadays your website will be competing with two billion other ones. So you need to figure out from the start which strategies you plan to follow to get visitors to the site.
You basically have two different options: offline and online.
An offline strategy refers to things such as public relations, advertising, cold calling, and networking. In these cases, the website will become the place where you send people who have heard about your business and who want to find out more.
The core elements of an online strategy include:
– Online advertising, e.g. Google Ads
– Getting other people to link to your site from their own websites, blogs, social media posts, etc.
– The good old SEO or Search Engine Optimization where you aim to make sure that your site is listed near the top of search results on Google and other search engines.
4. What will the website offer to make people stay longer?
You literally have a few seconds to capture the interest of a new website visitor. The longer he or she stays, the better the chances are that they will do what you want them to do. Now let’s get one thing straight: if you jump straight into sales talk, chances are great that the bulk of your visitors will leave without doing anything.
If there’s one thing that will make them stay longer it’s good quality content that answers the questions they had when arriving there, without making them feel that they are being pushed into a corner.
5. What are you planning to do to stand out among the crowd?
According to HostingTribunal, there are now nearly 2 billion websites. And many of them might be selling what you sell. How are you going to stand out? The answer might be simpler than you think: if you can within a few seconds after someone arrived on your website establish yourself as an expert in your field, visitors are more likely to stay and eventually become customers.
Let’s say you are selling photographic equipment. If on the site you offer a free e-book (which you wrote yourself) about how to become a great photographer using the very same equipment that you are selling on the site, you have a much better chance of success than if you jumped straight into sales.
6. How will you measure the success or failure of your website?
Even before you start, you should know how you are going to measure the success or failure of your new website. The best is to have both short- and long-term goals that are measurable. These can, e.g., be sales, inquiries, subscriptions, or just an increase in traffic. If it’s the latter, make sure you choose a web host that provides proper visitors statistics, so you at least know how many visitors your site had, when they visited, and where they came from.