Figuring out what you want from a website
One of the concerns clients have expressed to me when talking about their web presence is that they have no idea why they need any of it. This in turn makes it difficult to legitimise any updates to a website, including new functionality. I do understand the state of mind; it is difficult to ask for things that you don’t know exist. Talking about the Internet, even your own website, can be like walking through a foggy forest.
There are a couple of questions you can ask yourself, to help lift the fog, prior to talking to a web developer.
1. Forget about the Internet; what does your business DO?
All the Internet is doing for businesses is making services that once had to be done over the telephone or in person possible through a computer. So, how do you operate, Internet aside? Do you sell something? Do you host events? Do you publish a magazine, offer a trade, teach people, build things?
The majority of manual procedures in any business can be converted to some sort of online version. But it’s not your job, as a business owner wanting a website, to know what those online versions are. All you need to tell your web developer is what your business does. It’s the web developer’s job to translate it into an accessible online format.
2. What are your competitors doing online?
Google search your industry. You’ll know who your biggest competitors are. Look at their websites, what they offer customers through the Internet, and ask yourself if your business would benefit from a similar presence.
3. Is your customer base online?
This is rather important. If your customers are for the most part, pensioners, for example, a website may not be the best way to spend your advertising money right now. But if your business caters to all age groups – then the chances of customers wanting to find you online is high.
Yes, I need a website.
If you have determined that yes, you need a website, then you need to talk to a web developer about exactly what sort of presence you need online; be it an entire conversion of your business to its online equivalent, or a single page that advertises what your company is and where you’re based. Check out my Modules page for an idea of the sort of packages Equivalent Exchange can tailor to your needs, or send in a quote request for a discussion.
But if it still feels like you’re wading through murky fog and none of it makes sense while you’re thinking it over, just remember; it is not your job, as the client, to figure out what exactly your website does or presents to the online world. Your web developer should be demystifying websites for you. It is the responsibility of a web developer to take the information you give them about your day-to-day business, combine it with what you actually need out of an online presence, explain to you what they’re doing so you’re happy with it, teach you how to use it, and translate it all into a working online solution.