Before you start building a website
Having a long hard think about what your website should focus on before you jump in will help you in the long run. Here's some things to consider before you start building your website.
Whether you’re starting a new business or creating a website for an existing business, it’s critical to study your online competition.
There are generic market research considerations for every business – regardless of whether they’re online or real time – to see if an idea stands a good chance of commercial survival. (Link to First stage market research: 10 questions).
But there are considerations specific to the online environment that you need to consider.
Firstly, you need to identify which competitors have the highest visibility in regard to web rankings and social media. Are they paying for online advertising and how widespread is it? If they have big advertising budgets, can your budget compete against them? If you can’t, not all is lost. Refer to “Driving traffic to your website” for tips on unpaid forms of promotion.
Consider what your main competitor’s websites offer customers in the way of pricing and a customer experience. You’ll want to equal, if not better them to be competitive.
To identify your competitors, undertake a Google search using words or phrases that you think your future customers would use to find your products or services. Usually, the search would include a geographical reference that’s relevant to your target areas (e.g. ‘Western Australian giftware’ or ‘Rockingham electrician’).
Then do keyword searches on businesses in the top five rankings on page one of your search engine results. And individual search will bring up a list of every type of online presence for each of those businesses. So you’ll be able to investigate what you’re up against.
Once you’ve done your market research, the next question is “How is your website going to bring value to your business”? Identifying your business requirements – your needs and goals – provide the scope of problems you want the site to solve.
This is a really important consideration if you want to derive the best return on your investment in a website.
Some typical questions to consider are:
- Do you want to create a new stream of income though an online store?
- Do you want to increase awareness or educate/train?
- Do you want to increase your number of leads?
- Do you want to convert more leads into sales?
- Do you want it to enhance your brand?
- Do you want lower costs by introducing efficiencies and streamlining processes?
- Do you want to retain existing customers or improve the level of customer service?
While you’ll have your own thoughts on what’s needed, it’s very important to throw out a net for ideas to staff and potential clients.
Consulting is a great way of catching ideas that you’ve either overlooked or hadn’t considered.
Seeking ideas from staff is a good way of getting them to buy into development of the site and use the site as an important future component of your business. Working with clients is a good way of developing customer relations and creating a website that helps solve their problems.
It’s really important to understand that the website, like your products or services, is about providing solutions to your potential customers’ problems. Understanding how you can help your customer solve those problems is key.
Don’t worry about the cost and feasibility of each idea for now. Just think about how the site can best offer opportunities for growth. The feasibility and cost of each idea will be worked out in the next stage.