When it comes to helping someone to develop their website, the very first question on my intake form is:
What do you want your website to do?
Surprisingly, most people have not a clue of what they want their site to do! All they know is that they want to create a website. Most often, my new clients will give blanket statements like:
- I want to add videos to my site.
- I want to make money.
- I want to build a blog.
These are okay answers, but they are not the right answers. “Why not?”, you ask…
Because they do not specify what you want to accomplish in terms of quantifiable and tangible goals. In fact, most people want to add something to their site simply because they thought it “looked cool” on someone else’s website.
That’s no reason for doing the same thing on your website as someone else is doing on theirs – especially if you do not fully realize why they have “that” on their site. You never know that the video, audio, or downloadable file may be part of their overall marketing sales funnel.
Another reason for having a stated outcome for your website, is because it keeps you focused on the task at hand. Being focused on your site’s outcomes helps to minimize costly delays from constant “do overs” – and web developers and designers are not cheap!
For instance, let’s say that you want to create a website for building your subscriber list. In other words, your website is NOT for the purpose of making sales.
Now that you have your website objective in mind, the pressure of “making money” lessens and your mind is free to focus. In this case, growing your subscriber list.
Never lose site of the “Big Picture” when it comes time to create your site. Always have a written plan of what you want your site to accomplish so that you do not get frustrated due to lack of progress.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration – Jeffrey Zeldman” quote=”Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration – Jeffrey Zeldman”]
Additional Website Questions to Consider
Who is my target market?
Perhaps the toughest thing you will have to do, is remove yourself from the equation and look at your website from your target market’s perspective. It may be your website, but it’s not about you – it’s about what your market wants.
How am I different?
What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? What makes you different from the other 10 billion websites online doing the same thing? You must determine what makes you different, better, so that you do not come across like everyone else online.
How will I get people to my site?
What is your strategy for getting traffic to your website? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can only help so much. What other strategies will you employ? Will it be…
- Article Marketing
- Social Marketing
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
- Pay-Per-Action (PPA)
- All the above
What do I want people to do once they get to my site?
Do you want visitors to opt-in to your list or make a purchase? If it is to opt-in to your list, do you have an effective strategy in place for doing this? If it is to make a purchase, what is your strategy to accomplish this task?
How will I measure my website’s results?
Google Analytics and Clicky Web Analytics (my personal fav!) are both useful tools for measuring traffic coming to your website. However, what other strategies will you employ to gauge your site’s effectiveness-such as sales conversions, for example?
How will I keep people coming back to my site?
Will you use an RSS feed, an email sign-up form or both? What systems will you have in place to notify people of new content and follow-up with them?
How does my website fit into the overall scheme of things?
What percentage of your time will you have to devote to your website, or blog? What systems will you have in place to ensure consistent and timely delivery of your content?
[clickToTweet tweet=”If you think math is hard, try web design – Trish Parr” quote=”If you think math is hard, try web design – Trish Parr”]
Will I perform some, most, or all of the work on my website?
Will you work on your website exclusively or will you outsource? If you outsource, do you have the right people in place to accomplish your goals? What system do you have in place to organize and keep track of projects?
There are so many things to consider when it comes down to what you actually want your site to do, that it is tempting to try to do them all. However, if you try to do too much you will end up confusing your audience and render your site ineffective.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that maintaining a million features only leads to more work! I am not sure about you but, for me personally, the last thing I want is to do more work.
Ultimately, what makes a website work is summed-up in one word:
Clarity of purpose in your goal and website objective in the beginning, will help you create a website that will do what you want it to do. Which is?
The first step to building your website or blog, is to know what you want it to do.
- Is your website for making money?
- Is it to build your list?
- Is it for keeping people informed?
Once you’ve got the “Big Picture” in mind for your site, focus all your energies on doing those tasks that accomplish your objectives for that site. Know who your target market is, what they need, and what makes you different.
Determine how you will drive traffic to your site, what you want them to do when they get there, and how you will keep them coming back. Lastly, know how your website fits into the overall scheme of your business, how to track results and how you will get the work completed.
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