Launching a website is both exciting and potentially rewarding. A well planned site can have a positive effect on your business, with online sales bucking the trend in an otherwise downbeat economy. Creating a website can also be a daunting task, with so many options to choose from and jargon to sift through. This article aims to help you plan your new website quickly and easily.
1. Set your goals
The first stage in planning your website is so simple it is often overlooked: set clear goals of what you want your website to achieve.
This could be to generate sales leads, sell products, or anything else you can imagine. Whatever it is, boil it down to a single mission statement. Try to quantify your goals, too. How many enquiries will you receive? What will the turnover be in each of the first three years?
2. Establishing a budget
You can build a simple website or blog for free these days, meanwhile large companies pump millions into their online presence. So how much should you spend?
Let's say you have a turnover of 100,000 and you want to invest 8% to give an annual marketing budget of 8000. If you're an online business you may choose to invest all of this on the web, if not then choose a suitable proportion.
In the movie "Field of Dreams" you may have heard the quote "If you build it, he will come". This may be true for baseball, but not for new websites which require significant effort and investment in marketing after launch to be successful. Consider allocating up to 50% of your web budget not on the website itself, but on marketing it once it's live.
3. Requesting a quotation
Assuming that you want to hire a professionals to create your website, the next step is to obtain some quotes. Write a document setting out what you want the website to achieve, what it will do, who the target audience will be, and a time scale for completion. You may also include what you expect in terms of training, support, and hosting. This document is known as a 'request for proposal' or RFP.
Send the RFP document to web development companies and they should send you back a detailed proposal together with full costings. Remember, the more information you can give in the RFP, the more likely it is you will get an accurate quote for exactly what you want.
4. Creating Content
There's an old saying on the web that "content is king". No matter how pretty the design, the quality and usefulness of the copy, images and other media are critical to the success of your website.
If you struggle with writing, consider using a professional copywriter. Choosing photos is trickier than it sounds, and is best left to a professional designer.
It's worth getting started on the website content as soon as possible so it's ready to populate the website and make the whole project go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
5. Going live
Once your website is live and has been submitted to search engines, don't expect overnight success as it can take months to appear in results pages.
Your web developer can install Google Analytics or a similar statistics package so you can track information about your visitors and how they are finding your website. You can use 'goals' within Google Analytics to track exactly where purchases or sales leads are being generated from.
You will also need to market your new website, perhaps using social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, search engine optimisation (SEO), pay-per-click adverts, or email marketing.