6 Things to Consider Before Building a Website
A website is an essential part of any modern company’s marketing mix. It acts as a virtual front door to your offerings and is often the initial point of contact between you and your customers. Furthermore, the benefits of having a website for your business cannot be understated – an aesthetically pleasing, well designed and functional website can increase sales, improve brand recognition and enhance customer satisfaction.
If you’re looking to bring your company online by creating a website, there are two main activity phases you’ll need to consider: building and maintaining. For now, we’ll touch on some of the things you’ll need to evaluate before building a website, and we’ll cover considerations for maintaining a website in a future post.
If you’re looking to build a website, it’s important to consider these six basic questions:
1 – What information is important to convey to your customers online and how? You’ll want to consider and document your requirements before you start, as this will help you develop a structured plan for the content you’ll need to create. Be sure to outline what pages your site will have and what information will be on each page. Also, consider what contact details you’ll share. Putting together a comprehensive plan will increase your chances of a successful outcome and likely also save you time and money.
2 – How will you design your site so customers can find the info they need? This sounds simple, but it’s worth covering – it’s extremely important to design your website in a way that allows customers to quickly find what they’re looking for. It should be clean and easy to navigate, so be sure to avoid cluttering your pages with too much content to ensure customers can easily find the most essential information. You’ll also want to ensure that you’re up to speed on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and incorporate search-friendly design principles when designing your website.
3 – How will customers be accessing your website? Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are quickly growing in popularity, and many users of mobile devices utilize them to browse the Internet. Consider this: in a recent Ipsos research report, 47% of Canadians reported owning a smartphone and 21% of Canadians reported owning a tablet. The take away? If your site isn’t compatible with mobile devices, you may be losing valuable business.
4 – What are the goals of your website and how will they be measured? Simply getting your business online can feel great, but it’s even better to know your website is having an impact. To ensure you can get this level of information, it’s a smart idea to put online analytics tools in place that will let you know if your customers are finding your site and using it the way you’d like. Google Analytics is a popular and free tool that many small business owners use to accomplish this.
5 – What will your company’s URL be? You’ll need to consider both the name of your website and the appropriate domain for your website. If you have a unique business name, that’s often a great place to start for figuring out what your website name and domain should be. You’ll also have to consider if you want a .ca to reflect your Canadian identity, or if you’d prefer a .com to go with a more traditional address. Other options are available, but those two are the most popular in Canada.
6 – Do you have the time and expertise to build the website yourself? This is perhaps the most important question that business owners face when they look at establishing a website, and it’s also one of the hardest to answer because there is no universal “right” answer. If you have time and knowledge of HTML, SEO, and analytics tools, building your own website may be something that you can handle. However, if you don’t have much time to spare or you aren’t knowledgeable in all of these areas, it may be best to get help from an expert provider. There are many comprehensive Web hosting services available now that can help you get online without being a web expert. For example, Bell’s Web Essentials Bundle is a great place to start no matter where you see yourself on the web-capability scale. Starting from $35/month, you can get a three-page site, your own domain, hosting, email service, search engine-optimized architecture, marketing and analytics tools and tech support. If your needs are a little more involved, additional packages are available to support your business as it grows in both size and complexity.
The bottom line
It’s important to re-iterate that there is no “right” answer for everyone in terms of the approach they should take when building a business website. Ultimately, your decision should depend on your unique circumstances and overall requirements. However, regardless of whether you decide to build a website yourself or outsource some or all of the process, it’s important to document your website requirements before you start any actual development work. Having your requirements documented in a comprehensive plan will increase the chances that your website turns out to be everything you need, and it’ll also help you save time and money in the future.