All Business Owners Should Know these 10 Things Before Building a Website

Before You Begin

Posted by

10 things all business owners should know before they have a website built.

I loved the article "10 things businesses should know before building a website" over at 456 Berea Street . Here are their top 10 with my comments added:

  1. Understand what you want. Too many businesses really don't know what they want from their website . Have you researched who your online customers are? Do you know what keywords they search for? Do you know what sites they visit? Do you know why they are looking for your site? If you don't, they you don't know what you want. You want happy customers. That's what you want (and hopefully more income as a result).
  2. It costs more and takes longer than you think. I can't count the number of times I've been asked how long a website takes, but every time they are shocked at the average development time. However, nearly every time we have "wait time" with a website, it has been caused by the clients' inaction (not sending in copy, not sending pictures, not signing off on part of the project, etc.) You can eliminate most of the wait time by having content, pictures, etc. ready for your developer to dump into the design.
  3. A web site has several pieces; don't cut corners. You should keep in mind the following aspects: Design - Does it look and act like my client expects?, Content - Does the site provide the information my clients are looking for?, SEO - Will clients be able to find my site once we make it live?, Future Additions - Have I adequately planned ahead so that I don't have to waste time interfacing the new features with existing ones.
  4. Balance glitz and guts. A good website mainly provides the information that people are looking for and does it in a pleasing way, but content wins out every time .
  5. If you build it, they won't necessarily come. If you don't have a unique value proposition you will not get any sales except from nice old Grandma Elna who bought something just to be nice. Something about your business must attract the more savvy online customers of today.
  6. Avoid bit decay; the site needs maintenance. Technology is ever changing and hopefully your business is keeping up. You need a plan to update, maintain, and improve your website on a monthly, if not weekly basis. Ask yourself, "How is my target audience changing, and how can I quickly adapt to their needs?"
  7. Treat the web team as professionals. You and the designer both have specific roles you must fill for your website to succeed.
  8. Most people in the web industry are clueless. Just because your daughter's friend's brother built a website when he was in 4th grade, that does not qualify him as a web designer. Just because your daughter's friend's brother is a graphic designer, that does not qualify him as a web designer. Just because your daughter's friend's brother owns a pirated version of Frontpage, that does not qualify him as a web designer.
  9. You get what you pay for. I think we covered your daughter's friend's brother well enough above.
  10. Don't start your project by buying a CMS. A content management system is not the way to start. Ask your web designer, they probably have a better and more customized answer for your needs.
Now these are not an "all inclusive" list by any means. However, these will help you start off on the right foot. If I were to add a #11 to the list it would be Have your site built with the customer in mind. If people can't find your site because of poor SEO, or if people can't use your site because or poor navigation, or if you don't provide information that people want, your site will fail. Fail to understand your customers and you might was well give your website money away to charity where it would do some good.