Are you planning a website for your new business? Are you thinking of updating your current business website?
If you’re like most people, one of the first things you’ll do when approaching a new website is to rush off to the nearest designer to get some draft designs. Or you’ll chat to a website developer to find out what features you can incorporate into your website.
The problem is that while these steps are important, they certainly shouldn’t be the focus in the initial stages. The most important first step when developing a website is to strategically plan the project, with your target customer firmly in mind.
So where do you begin?
Firstly, think about and write down why you want a new website and what you want the website to achieve. Do you want to promote your business, do you want to sell products on line, do you want to attract new customers, do you want to better inform new and current customers? The list could go on and on.
By listing your objectives you – and the people who will help you develop your website – will have a greater understanding of your business’ needs and will be able to develop a website to achieve the objectives.
Who is your target audience? This vital step will help you understand your customer and develop a website specifically with him or her in mind. Too many websites are built that focus on the business rather than the end-user. The most successful websites are designed to engage to and connect with customers.
Have a clear idea of what your business’ key messages are. What are your key points of difference? What benefits do you provide customers? What makes you stand out from your competitors? By explaining to website visitors why they should choose your businesses – rather than hoping they’ll find out themselves – you’ll be improving your engagement of potential customers.
Do some research to find out what keywords people are using to search for a business such as yours in Google and other search engines. There are some great tools to help you do this, including a free keyword tool offered by Google.
Call to action
This ties in closely with your objectives and answers the question, what is it you want people to do after visiting your website? For many businesses, it might simply be to make contact. For others, it might be to buy products on line or sign up for a newsletter. It should be commonsense, but a lot of businesses lose sight of the call to action with disastrous results.
Pages and navigation
You can then start to think about the pages to include in your website and what the navigation may look like. Remember to keep your target customer in mind and, in general, keep the navigation simple and easy to follow.
Design and content
Now’s the time to get some designs done, develop content (words and images) and think about the features your website will include.
Most importantly, consider your target customer in everything you do. Focus on the customer and you’ll be more likely to develop a website that will add value to your business.