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posted on March 11th, 2011

Getting Prepared for that First Website of Yours

BY Jason Howard in Blog ,

article2It is an astonishing fact that more than 50% of the small business owners in the US still do not have a website. We believe that if you do not have a website, you are not ready for doing business at all. Customers, partners, suppliers, distributors and investors, everyone is eager to visit the website of the company they would be doing business with.

If yours is an industry where most of your competitors still do not have a website, make a move and this early mover advantage will come handy in the coming years.

While we have hopefully convinced you to get your own website, this is only the start of a journey. You need to be fully prepared for the penetrating and exploratory questions that good web design firms ask and you should also be ready to ask relevant questions to the selected web design companies which you have shortlisted. This preparation will save you from getting involved with non competent service providers and in ensuring that your journey is as enjoyable as the ecstasy of reaching your destination.

Here, we have a set of important questions that every business owner (or their leadership team) should ask themselves and find pertinent replies to, too.

i. What is the goal of website that we intend to build?

ii. Who are we targeting this website at? Do we know the demographic, geographic, social and economic profile of our target audiences?

iii. What kind of a demand exists online for the products and services that we are offering?

iv. Where would most of our visitors come on my site? Do we have any information on magazine websites, trade publications, industry blogs, and vertical directories in our niche that can bring visitors to our website by inclusion or advertising?

v. Will we sell stuff online? If yes, are we ready for things like payment gateways, merchant accounts, PayPal, secure connections etc?

vi. Who is going to market this website and how?

vii. Who will create content for the web pages, news items, blogs, articles and other web pages and presentations?

viii. Is there any existing branding that we are doing for our business offline? What about our logos, envelopes, business cards? Do we wish to use them and make the website resemble those colors or should we get a completely new color scheme and identity?

ix. Do we have images and photos that make content appealing and easy to follow?

x. What kinds of costs are involved in case I hire designers, developers, copywriters and photographers from the web design company?

xi. How is the website maintained? Can I myself update content despite not knowing any programming or HTML? Or should I give this to my web design firm?

xii. How will I measure how my website is performing? Whether is it popular or not, where does the traffic comes from, what do my visitors do on my website?

xiii. What are the timeframes for attaining success on the website and how to define success for us?

xiv. Would we spend regularly on promotion and marketing through search engine optimization and pay per click marketing?

While there may be more that can be added to this list, these questions in themselves will help you understand your business better and may be ask some more related and specific questions. Some of the replies won’t be related to your internal functioning and you might need to do some research online to find ballpark estimated replies to the questions. The more replies that you have, the better position you are in to select the best firm for your first website and make your website a success.

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