You know you need a website for your business — it’s the 21st century — but it can feel like striking out into the wilderness. Should you do it yourself? If not, where can you find someone to do it for you? What should you pay? What do you have to know? Once you’ve chosen someone, what do you ask for?
“I’ve been able to find people to do what I ask them to do,” one client told us, “but I don’t know what to tell them to do.” It’s a common problem. For many business owners, the uncertainty at the beginning of the process makes them feel like they’re setting out on a path that is far from clear.
Figure out what information your website needs to include.
You might need help doing this. You can look at your competitors’ websites and see what they’re doing, but it’s often more helpful to think about your customer’s path to purchase. If you’re selling contact lenses, you need to think about who your customers are and how they look for contact lenses when they’re ready to buy. What do they want to know and how can you provide that information to them? What do they need in order to make a decision? How will they want to shop and how do they want to receive their contacts?
We also like to think about roles and goals when we’re planning a brand new website. The roles are the people who will be using your website: your customers, of course, but also your staff and perhaps vendors as well. List what you’d like everyone to be able to do, from booking appointments to contacting customer support, uploading files or checking on the progress of a project.
Write down all the things you want your website to do. This is what you need to take to a web design firm. The experts at a company like Haden Interactive will be able to help you determine the site architecture that will work best for you.
Think about your web design budget.
It’s almost impossible to answer the simple question, “What does a website cost?” It’s like asking what a shirt costs — five dollars, five hundred dollars, who knows? So it makes sense to think about the value of your new website. If it brings you one new customer each month, what additional income would that bring you?
Obviously, a website can bring you much more business than that. If you keep it up to date, it will bring you additional customers for years into the future. But you can take the most pessimistic view you want when you decide the value of building a website, and use that information to decide what your budget should be. How much is a new customer worth over the course of the next few years? If your website brings you one new customer a month for the next three years, multiplying those customers’ value will give you a good starting point for determining the value of the website, and therefore your budget.
If you do these calculations and discover that a good website could bring in $108,000 in revenue, and then decide to pay your nephew $500 to build you a website with DIY tools, you should revise your estimate of the revenue the website will bring you. That website probably won’t reflect the stature of your company well enough to bring in that number of customers.
If your numbers tell you that a new customer each month for three years would come to $1,620, go ahead and make a free or nearly free website.
Think about your company’s style.
Who are your customers and what will appeal to them? What’s the nature of your company, and how do you want to convey that? You don’t have to be able to articulate every detail of your design, but the more information you can give the digital marketing professionals you work with, the better.
Find five websites you love — whether they’re in a business like yours or not — and share those with your web designers. If that’s difficult, bring in magazine ads that appeal to you. Be clear on colors you love or hate and the kind of customer you want to speak to. Remember that you probably aren’t the same as your customer in every detail, so you’ll have to balance your personal preferences with those of your customers.
Once you’ve thought about these things, you’re ready to talk with a designer. The right web design company should be able to lead you through the process from this point without your having to rough it.