Your website needs a business plan

It is amazing how many people come to me to design a website with only a vague notion of why they want one.  Yet in the world outside the web they would never do this.   You don’t rent a shop without having a plan or doing some research.

You might want to know

  • How big a shop is available at a price you can afford
  • Where the prime positions are to reach the most shoppers
  • Who are your main competition
  • What equipment you will need
  • How many staff will you need
  • How will you promote your new shop.
  • What the layout will be to attract your shoppers

Yet you will build a website without doing any real research, no plan,  and often no real idea of how your website will support your business.    This is a serious lose of time and money.  Consider the cost of hosting, domain name(s) design and development and ongoing maintenance of the site.  Can you afford to develop a site without a clear plan? A bad website can actually damage your reputation and certainly won’t gain you the new customers you hoped for.

So why do you want a website?

If I asked you to write one sentence to explain why you want a website, you would probably write down one of the below responses.

  • To promote my business
  • Gain more clients
  • Increase sales
  • Raise my profile
  • Reach a wider national or international audience.

What is your site going to do for you?

These are all good reasons for wanting a site but let’s look at this from a different angle.

  • How will a website promote my business?
  • How will a website gain more clients?
  • How will a website increase sales?
  • How will a website raise my profile?
  • How will a website reach a wider national or international audience?

If you can’t answer these questions with some real detailed activities that your site will perform the answer is it probably won’t do any of them.

An amazing number of people think a website will solve all their problems without giving any real thought to how it will achieve all these things.

How will your website achieve your aims?

Let’s look at one of these statements in more depth

How will your website promote your business?

Some good responses might be.

  • By raising awareness about what services or products we offer
  • Promoting new products and special offers
  • Explaining our core values and reinforcing our customer care promise
  • Giving our company a human face by introducing our team with pictures and profiles
  • Displaying comments from satisfied customer.
  • Giving current and new clients an easy way to contact us.

But this still does not really tell us what the website will actual do to achieve this.

Let’s break this down again into real content and activities.

By raising awareness about what services or products we offer

  • This might be through static web pages
  • Ensuring pages are search engine  optimized correctly to promote each service
  • Subject based  blog posts that could link in with different services
  • A Google feed for your products that links back to your website

Promoting new products and special offers

  • Product or service page with details
  • News section or blog
  • A Twitter feed to encourage traffic back to the website
  • A Facebook page with special offers feeding back to the website
  • Monthly email newsletter with subscription form on the  website

Hopefully you get the idea.

Of course that is very simplistic and different activities take more time than others.  But hopefully you can start to see that with a little thought you can build a much clearer idea of what the aims of your website are and how your website is going to achieve those aims through actual content and activities.  With this in place you will produce a site that actually supports the needs of your business and successfully sells that business to your customers.