When should I invest in a website?
When to invest in your website
Well, let me qualify this provocation. Naturally not everyone always needs a website right now. However, if you're in business and you aim to grow it's inevitable that at a certain point your website will be a pivotal point in the journey of an unknown prospect to becoming an ardent champion of your business.
So, assuming you're forward looking, now is probably a very good time to consider investing in your website.
SET YOUR BEARINGS
Firstly, let's take a look at who you are and what you're trying to achieve.
What type of business do you have?
- What sorts of products do you sell or services do you provide?
- What's the size of your company?
- Is your business a consultancy in a particular sector and if so, which sector?
- Are you an international company? In which countries?
- How long have you been established?
What is your desired outcome from having a web presence?
- Showcase your services?
- Sell products online?
- Promote case-studies of your previous work?
- Create a community of interest around your business?
What impression do you want to leave?
- Is it to appear to be the company you aspire to be in the future?
- Or is it to catch up with your competitors?
- Are you in a line of business that demands that you look the part or be damned?
WHERE DO YOU START?
Once you're clearer about who you are and what you're trying to achieve, the next thing to consider is the needs of your customers. The better you understand them, the better you'll be able to communicate in terms that will engage, inform and influence.
What's your target audience profile?
It's fairly commonplace for businesses to offer an ever increasing range of products or services to an equally wide group of customers. Making sense of this can be as challenging as trying to unravel the cat's ball of wool.
One way is to simplify your audience is with the rule of three.
- Firstly, who are the customers you are most likely to beneficially communicate to/with through the web? What are their values? gender? age? habits? way of being?
- Secondly, who are the people or businesses that are most likely to influence them? For instance, you may want to make sure your story also targets the interests of journalists, academics or organisations looking for speakers, for instance.
- Finally, there's usually a third group which we refer to as the stakeholders of your organisation. These can be members of the team, investors, partners or anyone who has an interest in your success. It's good to be conscious of this important group when developing your strategy for how much you will invest into your website.
It's worth noting that Google's search engine will be visiting your website, in some cases quite frequently. So if SEO is important to you, make sure you're working to the standards and expectations of this very sophisticated 'consumer'.
Other questions to ask can include:
- What is your audience looking for?
- What barriers must you overcome to gain their support?
- Do they have expectations of legal compliance?
- Do certain industry standards apply to your industry?
- Must you have certain qualifications before they will consider contacting you?
Finally, how are going to find what they're looking for?
In our experience, most business – especially in the early days – get most of their business through word of mouth. Don't ever underestimate the importance of the relationships with real people in real time in the real world!
And of course there is Social Media and that is a whole other story which we don't have time to look in any sort of depth here. Suffice to say that it's vast in scale, saturated in competition, constantly evolving and highly sophisticated to those who seek to exploit it fully.
STANDARDS, COST AND URGENCY
To what standard do your competitors promote themselves?
- Visibility on the web?
- Quality/standards of design?
- Messaging and content structure?
- Where do they market themselves?
- Does it work for them?
- Does it feel like the way you’d like to communicate?
What budget do you have control over?
- What do your competitors spend on their web presence?
- Turnover of your business?
- Where your business comes from?
- How will your web presence impact on your business?
How urgently do you want to launch your web presence?
- Chilled, no hurry?
- There’s a specific date?
- Everything depends on it! Now!