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5 Things to Think About Before Meeting Your Web Developer for the First Time
- by Marisa Ramondo
 

So you are ready to take the plunge and get your own website. Now what?

How often have you heard someone who has had a website for some time say they aren't seeing the results they expected. "This internet is a big waste of time", I heard one disillusioned business owner say once. Or how about, "I spent thousands of dollars on a website that didn't do anything for my business", from a local broke entrepreneur.

I can tell you that one of the main culprits of having an 'ineffective'  website is poor planning, or worst--NO PLANNING!

To help you with this critical part of the process, I came up with essentially the 5 most important topics to cover before you continue on to the designing and developing phase.

 

1. Why do you want a website?
It is important to determine what is the real reason why you want a website. Without knowing the objectives and goals for your website, it can never be successful.
These are the most common:

  • I want to expand my business

  • I want to increase my client base

  • I want my business to have increased exposure

  • I want to have a virtual pamphlet where I can  direct my existing customers to

  • I want to sell my products/services online

  • I want to reduce my operating costs

  • My competitors have a website

2. Who is your target audience?
Just as you would consider it important to have an overall marketing strategy for your business, the same consideration should be given to your website's strategy. Are you targeting a worldwide market or local? What is the age group of your target? Economic status? Gender?

These are all very important factors to think about. Only then, can you come up with a clear marketing and promotional plan for your website.

3. Review your existing marketing and advertising materials
Why re-invent the wheel? You may already have some pretty effective ads, brochures or presentations you've made in the past that can well be adapted for your website. Remember, you want to be consistent in your message and your image branding. Existing logos, colour schemes, catch phrases--all can be adapted on your website.

However, in the case of printed material, it is important to point out that writing for the web is not exactly the same as on print. Less text, more space and perhaps more captivating images will keep your visitors intrigued long enough to stick around on your website. Folks now-a-days have short attention spans and will not stay and read lines and lines and lines of never-ending text. Keep it short and simple.

4. Determine size and content
Contrary to some beliefs, size does not matter, particularly on the Internet. You can have a one-page website that can do the same job of encouraging visitors to come to visit and coming back for more, as a website that contains hundreds of pages. Decide what you would like your visitors or prospective clients to see on your website. Talk about the benefits--not features. Include lots of 'You', 'Your', words in the text. Avoid as much as possible, 'I', 'We', 'Us'. The website should focus on your visitors' needs, not yours and definitely not your web developer's need to show off what they can do! The usual content includes pages like: About us, Services/Products, Testimonials, Contact us. However sometimes it wouldn't hurt to be different and stand out from the crowd.
It's always a good idea to surf and look for some websites that you find appealing and those that you definitely don't. Do you find any features or layout your like? Take note of them and show them to your web developer. It will greatly increase the chances that you will have a website that you will approve of, and in a timely manner.

5. Dedicate a resource for your website
More often than not, the last thing a business owner will think about in establishing a website is who will make sure it's taken care of once it is completed and published. I don't mean the actually physical maintenance of the website. Most probably your web developer will take care of that. I mean, will you have someone who will be there to reply back to requests you receive from your website? It's nice and dandy to have a website. Even peachy if someone actually is interested in what you have to offer and attempts to contact you. It would be a total shame, to say the least, if no one from your company ever answered back. Think of your reputation and company image. In this case, having a website can be a real detriment.

Or what if your website is never updated. I'm not sure which is worst. If your website never changes or never highlights any new products or special events taking place in your company, you will never get repeat visitors. Those that do come back will wonder if you are still in business. You definitely need someone who will think of sending off any newsworthy items to your web developer/webmaster, on a continual basis. Make it part of the new culture. 'Let's put in on our website'.

I hope these tips will benefit you in your planning process, or at least, alleviate any apprehensions you may have had previously. Once you go through it, you will feel much better about the direction you will need to take in regards to your website. It will make it a much easier and more pleasant experience for all involved. Most importantly, a good plan will increase the chances of your website bringing in the desired results!


About the Author  
Marisa Ramondo is a web consultant and founder of Alexram Internet Services, where her mission is to help small businesses establish themselves successfully on the Internet. Be sure to visit her website to find out what else she is up to at http://www.alexraminternetservices.com
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