As we head towards yet another new year, you will probably be setting out your new business goals and plans for 2008. You will review many areas of your business, but what about your website? Like most business people, you probably don’t think about your website because you assume it’s doing its job, but chances are it isn’t up to scratch.
These days, websites are far more than an online brochure where your prospective customers can find basic information about your business. If your website isn’t creating real value for your business, it needs a serious overhaul to get it working harder.
Step 1. Assess the current state of your website
How does your website rate in the following areas?
- Do you have a fully-functional business website?
A fully-functional business website can attract clients to your business, increase sales and facilitate communication with your contacts. If you can’t do any of these things with your site, you probably have a brochure site that does nothing to get results for your business and you are missing out on the full functionality of the Internet.
- Does your site meet today’s website standards?
Your site should meet the essential guidelines established by Website Standards Association, including business purpose, internet marketing integration, latest technology and usability standards. All websites should also meet the coding and usability standards set out by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
- Can you update your site yourself?
Self-editing websites are now accessible and affordable for all businesses. Editing your own site will save you time and money and will ensure your site is always accurate and up-to-date with the latest information. And best of all, it is easy to do now so no technical skill is needed.
- Are you capturing the details of prospects who visit your site?
Many people that visit your site will not immediately make a purchase or contact you and if you don’t have some other way of getting their contact details, they will be lost to you. You should have a way to capture their details that is added to your database so you can easily communicate with them later.
- Does your website content and look reflect your business professionalism?
You’ve worked hard to establish your business as reliable and professional, but is your website undermining your efforts? The design, content and functionality of your website should match how you want people to perceive your business.
Step 2. Outline your business objectives
If you answered no to any of those basic questions, you are missing out on what the Internet has to offer your business and you should update your website. Before you speak to a web developer about it, you need to think about your business objectives for the upcoming year and how they relate to your web presence. Do you want to:
- Increase sales from existing customers?
- Attract new clients?
- Create leverage (low cost/high return) with marketing?
- Improve relationships with current customers?
- Reduce internal administration time and costs?
- Communicate more effectively with contacts?
Step 3. Research and plan
The next step in your website overhaul is to research your options. You need to brainstorm with your team to figure out what you want your site to do and review expert online resources such as Marketing Sherpa for ideas. Once you have a few ideas, you should create a plan for your new website, including designs you like and features your website needs. This will assist you in getting a quality end product from your website developer that meets your objectives.
Step 4. Meet with your website developer
If you are happy with your current website developer, you should meet with them to discuss the changes you want and your objectives for the new site. They should be able to build you a new site with all the features to achieve your goals. If they can’t, you should find a new developer that uses the latest techniques and technology of the Internet. Whether you stick with your current developer or hire a new one, it is a good idea to be involved in the production of the new site from start to finish so you can be sure it meets your business needs.
If you follow the above steps as a guide, I promise you the effort you put in here will be well worth it. The Internet is a powerful medium and every day we see businesses (big and small) maximising it and getting amazing results.
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