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Getting Started

What's Your Website's Purpose?

For most businesses, their website is the centerpiece of their Internet marketing program. In fact, because the most effective response mechanism to an online promotion is to send your prospect to your website, not having one significantly reduces the response rates to your banner ads, e-mails, and other Internet marketing offers.

Go back to the roots of the product or service you're offering. Why does it exist in today's world, and why does your business sell it? A good website communicates this proposition and the product benefits to the visitors.

Planning for Success

Making decisions isn't always easy, especially when the decisions bear directly on your time, money, and the success of your business. In order to feel confident and move forward as quickly and effortlessly as possible, you need a plan.

For hobbyists, enthusiasts, and artists, just having an attractive website might be the goal. For your business, however, a website is just a means to an end — increased sales. It's a waste of money to put up a site unless it is designed to increase revenues or achieve some other marketing goal.

Although a well-written, well-designed website with great content can make a positive impression on your prospects, the design should focus on getting the visitor to take the action you want.

So the first step is to identify your site's target audience and the actions you'd like them to take. The two taken together can be thought of as your business objective, and knowing it intimately is vital to the success of your online marketing initiatives.

For example, if you're doing a mailing for a software product and you're offering a special price, it may be more cost-effective to create a microsite — a kind of mini-website that is specific to a particular marketing campaign — and give people the microsite's address to go to in order to get information specific to that promotion.

However, if your target audience includes potential customers, existing clients, prospective employees, advertisers, business partners, etc. then a full-fledged website is likely in order.

What Does Your Website Need? — Mapping the Territory

Once you're familiar with your target audience and the actions you want them to take, it's time to get a little more granular.

Just as a technical writer wouldn't start writing a manual before creating an outline, and a book author's first step is to come up with a rough table of contents, you should have a plan for creating your website too.

The most popular format for planning websites is a tool known as the site map, which is a block diagram — similar in appearance to an organizational chart.

But the real issue is creating a website plan or strategy that will allow you to achieve your marketing objectives.

Make a list of the things people are coming to your website to do. These tasks might include:

  • Obtaining information on products and services
  • Obtaining information about your company
  • Reading press releases
  • Finding out about new products
  • Getting customer support
  • Buying products online with a credit card
  • Getting price quotations
  • Requesting a proposal by sending you a request for proposal (RFP) electronically
  • Learning how a product or technology works
  • Returning a product for refund or credit
  • Checking their order or account status
  • Reading case studies or success stories of customers in their industry using your product

Look at this task list when it is complete. You should make sure the most important tasks are accessible directly with one click off your website's home page.

One exercise we perform with clients at the outset of website planning that we've found very helpful is to write a brief description of the website to be developed.

The website description we create in this exercise is not for publication. It is not home-page copy but rather a preliminary plan. This description should include:

  • The intended audience for the site
  • The objective of the site
  • The content it will present
  • How people will use the site
  • The benefits of using the site

Once this is complete, it's time to consider the requirements of your site:

  • What graphics and illustrations will your site use and who will provide them?
  • Who will generate the content for your site and how?
  • How will you market your website (what search engines will you use to promote your site and what other channels will you use to drive traffic to it)?
  • When do you need to have your website up-and-running?
  • If your site will be an e-commerce site, you'll need to determine the product catalogue, payment gateway, processing provider, and delivery options you'll use.
  • What platform will be used for making your website (ASP, PHP, .NET, etc.)?
  • Will you need to host your website on a special server (Apache, IIS, Tomcat, etc.)?
  • Who will handle your site's maintenance, hosting, and domain name management?

I wish I could say this is a comprehensive list, but there is no shortage of considerations when it comes to planning a successful website. However, Kethyr Solutions is here to help, and the more planning we do in advance, the easier the development process will be and the more certain you can be of your website's success.

Whatever you offer your visitors, we can make sure you present it in a website that's easy on the eye and enticing to read. Everything — pictures, words, buttons, functions — will be designed to give your customers what they want and need.

Contact Kethyr Solutions today for more information or call us toll-free at 888-538-4971.

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