10 Tips on starting a new web business or new website.
Whether you started new or already have a successful web business, new website often is a critical step in moving to next level. Many new business owners struggle through first steps of making right choices in what can seem as chaos to an unfamiliar eye. Trained professionals and amateurs alike all happy to contribute, give advice and oftentimes result is nothing other than more confusion.
So how can a person that never dealt with a web project find a meaningful way to move forward and start a new web business?
There is no quick answer, as it is important to do in-depth research and understand challenges, limitations, pros and cons of many approaches that exist today.
We will summarize critical steps that we think will result in educated business owner, making smarter business decisions.
Conduct thorough review of your competition businesses on the web. Check out how many of them have websites, how complex websites are and what type of language websites use. Many sites are designed to support brand, while others are designed to run whole business online. Check how aggressive or subtle is offering of your competitors is to the user. Depending on the industry, this may vary greatly.
Decide if website can sell your product, service on its own, and if you want it to work as your virtual marketing agent or technical support person or everything in one. More grandiose your plans are, more likely it is they will not succeed, start with realistic goals
Decide how much time can you dedicate to the website per week. Many websites these days contain blogs, forums and other functions that require attention. This is important, but will take time. Decide if you or your team member can allocate appropriate amount of time to manage, post, write, update website. If you can’t find time, website should be done in a way that will require minimum of updates.
Decide if you want to go with template or custom designed website. There are many template websites available designed using latest technologies and offering what seems a great deal. Many hosting providers will offer free templates, internet providers claim to offer cheap website and many nationwide companies claim that they will have a professional designer work for you absolutely free. All this offers seemingly lower startup cost, but there is no free lunch. None of this will produce a result that will really be what you have in mind. If you are ok with settling on something that somebody did without knowing anything about your business, it may work for you. Otherwise, template approach is one of worst thing that can be done for your business, branding and sales.
Set a budget. This is a hard question. You may need to do more research and be surprised once you start getting proposals. Typical cost range for websites that are professionally designed can range from $2,000 – $5,000 for simple sites, to $5,000-15,000 for sites that use off the shelf solutions (content management systems) and $15,000-$50,000+ for elaborate custom projects based on open source technologies or custom solutions.
Choose a professional design team, not your brother in law to create a website. Read our article about creating effective RFP on how to ask appropriate questions and select a designer that fits your budget, expectations. Selecting a good designer, you must be aware that primary criteria should be if the team understands your business challenges, can address them and has track record of creating similar work in the past that appeal to wide range of audience. Beware of too much design or too much technology offers. It’s all about balance. Creating a copy for your website is a part of the creative process. Do not expect a design team to create text for your website. Hire external consultant for this or better, do it yourself. Designers can assist in prioritizing information and structuring a website.
Choose a good domain name. Its important to select a good domain name, but don’t fall for tricks to buy and spend $3,000 for a domain that may or may not work. Rather allocate your budget wisely. Spend that money on creative effort or advertising. Domain is important, should ideally contain some word about your business, but it should not break the bank.
Make sure that designer you choose can also design you a branding and identity. If you don’t yet have a logo designed, its important to select a team that will create unified vision and one style for web and branding materials.
Start Google analytics account. You r designer may assist with this, but its important to have accountability – a free tool by Google will help you to analyze traffic and performance of your website and start thinking about ways to promote it via pay per click campaigns or other means.
Put yourself in shoes of your customer and try to imagine a way of least resistance to get to your desirable end result, being a sale, lead conversion, phone call or other. Make sure that you are thinking not just from your side, but as if you were a customer. Doing so may help you decide that your customer may not have 10 minutes to look around but in fact has only 20 seconds to decide if offer is right for him and all steps should be taken for maximum effective conversion.
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