Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Avoiding Spending More Than Necessary on a Web Site

We’ve all heard the phrase, “ work smarter not harder.” Well the issue I am going to address here is spending for your business. Specifically, spending money on a website for your business. The key phrase here is “spend smarter, not more” and this is going to require a little work on your part.  It has pretty much become a given these days that every business should have a website. It helps you look established and it helps build your brand identity. Important also is the fact that one of the first things people do when considering a new purchase these days is do some research on the internet. If your competitors are online and you are not you could be losing a lot of business to them.
One thing I’ve learned in all my years of web development is that most people have no idea what a good website should cost them. I’ve seen the costs run the gamut from $150.00 to tens of thousands of dollars. There are a lot of variables. I’ll tell you right now that I can’t tell you what a website should cost you, there are just too many variable and no one-size-fits-all solution. I will tell you that I know that if you do your homework and make a plan, having the website of your dreams won’t cost you any more than is has to. And, the process of getting it going won’t be completely daunting. The good news is, you won’t need to become an expert at HTML or webhosting or programming. You are already the expert- on your business.
I have heard many disheartening stories from people who come to me, almost defeated, with tales of months of time wasted and dollars spent to end up with a very disappointing web site that yielded no results. Some of these people never got their web sites finished. Either because a designer flaked on them  or they got too busy or used up their whole budget before it was finished.
The biggest mistake most people make is approaching a web designer or web development company without a clear idea of how a web site is going to work for them. There are a couple of problems with  this. Most designers you go to won’t take the time to know your business really well and will be focused only on the visual design aspects of your website. What a lot of people end up with is spending money on a website that looks great but doesn’t produce much in the way of results. Usually since it did not give immediate results it lost priority with the business owner and is abandoned and neglected.
Web development firms can give you more help along these lines, but if you walk in not having a clear plan of how your website will work for your business they will have to charge you for all the time they spend helping you figure that out. I am not saying that you should not use a web designer or a web development firm. What I am saying is that if you take the time to work up a plan you will get better results for less money. There will not be any surprises in terms of what gets budgeted and what is actually spend to finish the project.
If you make a good plan, it is entirely possible to get a decent web site going for little or no money that will work for most small businesses or even non-profits and community groups. You can do this without becoming a technical wizard or an HTML ninja. The most important part is your plan. Since you know your business and your goals better than anyone you are the most qualified person to make that plan.
As you begin your website plan and start to move forward you will need to keep in mind a few key points that only you can determine:
· Your Goals for your website.
· Your target audience.
· Your key message
· How people will find you.
· Things that make you stand out from you competition.
Your Goals for your Website
Starting with your goals for your website. What do you want your website to do? Or, more specifically, what do you want your visitors to do when they visit your web site? Some people may want to sell a product line on their website. Someone may want to promote their professional services as an independent contractor. A merchant with a brick and mortar store will want to drive traffic to their business.
Your Target Audience and Key Message – Standing Out
Once you have decided on your goals for your website you will want to define your target audience and this in turn will influence your key message. For instance, if you had a high end restaurant to promote you won’t  talk about how cheap dining in your restaurant is or special cheap deals all the time. You will want to talk about the quality of ingredients, your atmosphere, wine list , and possibly your chef’s credentials. Once again, think “What’s in it for me?”, from the visitor’s perspective. This will help you decide on points that separate you from the rest of the competition.
How People Will Find You
In writing your content you want to think about how people will find you. With search engines you want to think about the terms people are most likely to use in a search for your particular type of business. Incorporating these key terms into your website copy will help you with search engines.
One thing you will notice as you move through this process. It is described as a series of steps, but the steps are all interlocking, dependant on each other. So don’t worry if it feels like you are a little out of order or if you have to go back over parts to adjust them.
If you looking to start a website or even revamp your old one these steps will be a tremendous help to your success. I will soon be publishing a report “5 STEPS TO CREATING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS WEBSITE” that will outline step by step techniques for the whole process.
You can sign up to receive a special offer on the report the day it is published by going here
In my next post I will go in to more detail on developing content for your website. Stay tuned….

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