Who Will Manage the Site?
One important decision to make when planning on creating a website is to decide on whether or not to hire a professional to make the site. The other option is for you or an already hired employee to create the site. There are pros and cons to either option.
If you hire a professional, you have a better chance at having a site being made with great creative prowess. Professionals have been trained to use many different tools and even know how to utilize social media to market your company (this will be discussed in a later chapter). If your company grows, then the profits you make will outweigh the cost of hiring a professional. The downside, however, is that hiring a professional costs money. If you are a small company, you may not be able to afford an expense like this.
Doing it yourself, or having an already hired employee plan and create the site, is efficient because you have someone doing two jobs for less cost. There are plenty of tutorials on the Internet and books to teach you how to make an effective website. The downside, however, is that if you do this yourself with little training, the site may come out generic or without the full functionality you would like.
What you ultimately want is for the website to stand out from the competition while providing the functionality and professional image that you want. Keep these things in mind if you decide to hire a professional or do it yourself.
Who Will Make the Site’s Creative Content?
The creative content on your website can include many different types of information. First is the copy, or the actual words on your website. How you describe your company, its services and its products will all impact how the customer views you. Then you have the creative content like the graphics and logos that reflect the image or brand of your company. Are you a traditional consulting firm or a clothing company that targets teenagers? You can imagine how the graphics and logos for these two companies would be completely different. You may also need content on a regular basis like articles, blogs, or other informational products.
The question is the same as the previous section on deciding whether to hire a professional. The professional knows how to make a site, and she is likely to have a creative background as well. In fact, many web designers will have contacts with copywriters and graphic designers who can help you create the unique content for your site. Learning yourself is always possible, but it will depend in part on how much time you are able to dedicate to wearing another “hat” in your business.
Plus, there are guidelines to writing and creating content for the web that are different from how you write for print advertising. If you aren’t familiar with the differences, you could end up with creative content that doesn’t work well inside the infrastructure of your site or that doesn’t draw traffic to your site the way that it would if you had a professional do it for you. Still, hiring does cost money, so this is an expense you should keep in mind. Again, think about the size of the company and whether or not you can afford to hire a professional. Will hiring a professional benefit you in the long run?
What Will the Site’s Layout Be?
Again, before you make the site yourself, consider whether you know what the layout of the site will entail. Before starting on the creation process, do a rough sketch on paper of how exactly the site will be laid out, how the pages will connect to each other and how a visitor to the site will navigate through your pages. Whether or not you hire a professional, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, a home page should be designed to catch the attention of the user. The home page is most likely to be the first page that a user visits, so you want to make a good impression with good aesthetic design and easy navigation. Also think about how you want to convey to him that you are a trustworthy company, and one that provides reliable information. Be sure to convey this information through text and visuals.
Next, there should be a section or page dedicated to telling users about the company. The “About” section is important because it is visited by people who are seeking information about the company, its experience and its credibility. Your “About” page should include a summary of the company, a statement of its mission and goals, and it could even include pictures and biographies of the company’s leadership. .
The website should also be professionally designed to reflect the culture or brand of your company. You are going to want the customer to get the right “feel” of your company from the design, colors, fonts, and more. Are you a luxury hotel company? A music label? An auction site? All of these websites would have significantly different graphics that convey the company’s brand. Everything from the font you choose to the colors of the background to the way the customer moves through the site all convey a message to your customer about your company.
Finally, make sure that the website provides the customer with the experience you want them to have from a navigation standpoint. Most readers are scanners of information, so plan on making navigation clear by emphasizing important information like contact information, or a link to another page with pertinent information about a product, or a map to your physical “brick and mortar” location if you have one. Your site should always be designed with the customer in mind – not with your own organizational preferences. Can the customer find return and warranty information easily? Do pages link to each other in a way that makes finding information easy to do? Is placing an order or requesting more information about a product or service easy to do? If a customer is frustrated by your website, they are unlikely to remain a customer – or even a visitor – for very long.
What Are Your End Goals?
Your website should also be designed with your end goals in mind. For example, if your desire is to sell products on your website, you may need e-commerce software and applications so that you can create a product catalog and complete a sale. But if your website is designed to be informational so that you can draw visitors and build a reputation for yourself, you won’t necessarily need e-commerce applications. Whatever you goal is, there should be one or more actions that you want the customer to take – and how successful your website is will be based on how many customers take that action. For example, you might want a visitor to:
- Sign up for a free newsletter or report so that you capture their email address
- Register or join as a “member” and pay a subscription fee
- Sign up for a free trial of something
- Click on an affiliate link or advertisement that generates a commission for you
- Call you or fill out a request for more information about your product or service
- Make a purchase
- Use your service/product online
- Refer others to your website
- Download your software, ebook, or more