Did you think that I forgot about writing part 2 of building your web team? Don’t worry…I didn’t. Here are a few other things to consider when endeavoring to build a presence on the internet…
4. Review your favourite sites
What are the characteristics of websites that you find yourself visiting often? What is it that you like about them? Take note of what draws you to a particular site – is it easy to navigate? Is it interactive? Is there sound? Why do you like how it looks?
Jotting down the addresses of your favourite sites and some of their characteristics will make articulating your vision to the web designer and web developer much more productive. It certainly doesn’t mean that they will copy a beloved site, they just will be able to understand a little more about you and your vision for your website.
In terms of looks, here is a “No-nonsense guide to choosing the right colour“. Honestly, I’m not sure that there are right and wrong colours, but it is food for thought.
5. What’s your function?
There are many goals of a website – none more important than ultimately increasing business. Check out this clever illustration of that fact:
That being said, not all websites need to be retail sites to add to the bottom line. What you really need to figure out is the functionality of your site. Do you need:
a. Online business card
Needing to build a website because you realize that the marketplace has changed and now most people expect to be able to find you online is nothing to scoff at. Many times all a company needs is a website that clients and potential clients can visit to learn a little bit about the company, where they are located, and why clients love doing business with them. This basic type of website needs to, at the minimum, provide:
Who are you? What is your product or service? Do you have a specialty? What are you known for? These basic questions should be answered on your website.
A lot of people, myself included, will never again use a phone book or the yellow pages. We will instead go onto a company’s website and get the address, email address or phone number we are looking for. Don’t bury that information…
Especially true for the service industry, prospective clients want to know what others have experienced before they purchase. Don’t miss this opportunity to create a good first impression.
b. Retail or e-commerce Site
It may be important for your site to process sales – you need to communicate this to your web team. They need to know that you will need increased security, online catalogues and filters, and a backend that speaks to your inventory software.
Even if you are considering adding online sales but not for a while, share that information with your team. Knowing that you may add a shopping cart in the future can change the way they structure the site now and it will ultimately save you time, money and frustration when you are ready to add this functionality.
Do you want your site to have a forum where clients can post questions or comments? Should clients be able to book appointments online? How interactive do you want your site to be?
Remember, there isn’t right or wrong answer to the question of function – there just needs to be an answer.
6. Create a basic site map
Finally, you’ve figured out the author of your site and who will design and develop it. You’ve registered your domain name, reviewed sites that you like and taken notes, and you know what you want your website to “do”. The last thing to complete is a basic site map.
Certainly the more information you plan to put on your site, the more complicated your site map will be. But, much like the flow chart above, sketching out the various categories and sub-categories of information will give the web team an idea of how large your site will be and how many placeholders to design for you to fill.
In most cases, there are website templates available for purchase that are appropriate (and more cost-effective than building a site from scratch). So as long as the developer has a rough idea of the amount of menu options you are looking for he can recommend the best option.