Build something that does something.
To build an effective online web presence, you need to recognize and define six elements that work in concert to meet your business goals. These elements will:
- Establish your position in the marketplace
- Help you find and engage qualified customers
- Make it easier for customers to do business with you
There’s also a frequently forgotten — but critical — seventh element that we’ll touch on briefly at the end.
6 elements for online success
Why do you want a website? What do you want it to do? How do you expect it to work? What are your business goals? How will your website help achieve these goals?
Now explain your purpose with compelling content. This sounds much simpler than it really is. Not only does your copy need to be unique, relevant, and authoritative — Google has to like it. What kind of content will you need to meet your business goals? Do you need a blog or news section? What type of media will you be hosting?
The web is made of content and design is what holds all that content in place. You not only want your website to look nice, you want it to be useful, usable and easy to navigate. How will it be organized? What colors and typography would be most effective? How will visitors be able to interact with it?
This is the backbone of your website. A stunning design full of wonderful content won’t do you much good unless you have a way to deliver it quickly, reliably, and securely. Who will manage your website? What kind of access will they need? What tasks will they need to perform on a regular basis? These are all big decisions, and no place to skimp on cost or support.
- System platform
- Web hosting
- Email processing
Okay. You built the perfect website and filled it with original and authoritative content. Unfortunately, nobody knows about it. Nobody can find it. Nobody cares. Now what? This is where marketing comes in. You’ll probably need some sort of lead generation plan, an active social media presence, and some solid search engine optimization (SEO).
- Lead generation
- Social media
You’ll never accomplish points 1–5 unless you’ve got the people, time, skills and money. If you build a website you can’t manage or promote, you haven’t solved a problem — You’ve created one. Launching a website isn’t the end of this process, it’s just the beginning.
The 7th element: Strategy
Before you hire a web designer, you need to answer three questions:
- What is the problem?
- What resources are available to solve the problem?
- Based on your current resources, what solutions are obtainable?
An experienced web designer won’t start your project until these questions are answered, and they have a clear strategy that will help accomplish your goals.
If you don’t have a marketing strategy — or the confidence to create one — a talented designer can help you. The best designers can even point out flaws in your thinking, and help prevent costly marketing mistakes.
To be clear, just about anybody can build you a website. But building an online profit center instead of a sinkhole is a different enterprise entirely. In terms of cost, $500 may get you an online brochure, $5,000 will get you closer to a business tool.