Filed Under: Web Design,
What is the goal of your new business website?
The web opens up massive opportunities for businesses, just think about what you use it for day by day. Perhaps it’s just for email? That “just” has changed the way the world communicates allowing people to converse across the world with ease, share images and contribute on projects together.
Maybe you use more complex tools online? Google, Apple and Microsoft now have web based office style tools for tasks like word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. These sit in “the cloud” and allow one or multiple users to edit files from any web attached device, even on smart phones.
So what is the goal of your site? If you are a small business, it’s unlikely that you are looking to challenge these complex online products and more likely that you have a ‘real world’ product or service to sell or promote on the web. However there may be web based features that can add value to your business, for example a beauty salon could integrate an online booking system, or a window cleaner could have clients request they visit sooner to clean their windows after a volcanic ash incident on their street!
Working out exactly what you want your site to do is important, and if you look into it before you talk to a web designer, you’ll be ahead of the game. Knowing what the end goal is will help you get the right quote first time and will avoid frustration and additional charges at a later stage. Adding detailed features some way down the line will cost more than ensuring they are integrated from the start.
The most affordable design is often a static site. Static web sites offer an online shop front for businesses, a place to direct customers to in order to find out information about your business. They should provide a place for visitors to get in touch, a telephone number, address and email contact facility. Static sites give you a chance to tell customers who you are and what you do, to set the tone for your company.
This up front affordability does have a big potential down side. Keeping a static site up-to-date will require you to return to the web designer to make changes and amendments. If the information on the site changes rarely, this may still remain cost effective, but if your site is looking to have regular updates and content changes, you might consider employing a designer on retainer to make them or adding a Content Management System (CMS) to your site.
Content Management System
CMS web sites come in many forms giving small business owners and employee’s the ability to update some or all sections of their site. These systems are based on a administered platform which allows registered users access to the site to make the alterations. Popular CMS solutions such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are designed to be simple enough for amateurs to use (for personal web sites and blogs) as well as powerful and adaptable for web designers and developers.
A well built CMS system should meet the requirements of your site, if you plan exactly what you want it to do. Will you just require a facility to update a news section on your site? Or would you like to be able to add new pages and edit the existing content?
You might choose to provide your latest news and info on a blog attached to your static site, keeping the two elements a short distance apart, ensuring you don’t accidentally break the main site but keeping your visitors up to date.
If you outline your CMS requirements before you speak to your designer then you’ll save time and money putting things right later!
If you want to sell your products online, you’ll need an e-commerce site. There are a number of solutions available from simple integration with Paypal for sites that sell just a few products, to fully fledged sites with their own shopping cart system and secure credit card transfer solution.
Again planning for the end goal will help inform your designer on exactly what they need to quote for.
Client Login Site
Extend your real world service by adding features to your web site that add value to your customers. Clients can login in to a restricted area of the site with a user name and login. This restricted area could provide services from a library of technical documents to more in depth information such as account history and invoices or a customer review platform.
If this is a feature you are after, then discussing it at the beginning with your web designer will enable you to get the right solution for your goal.
It will come as no surprise that many sites are a combination of the above. Most sites will have a static element, maintained by a web designer or CMS, but many will include some additional features.
The key is to work out what you want to do with your site, your web designer will be able to help and advise. Providing you with a guide to costs and development times ensuring both are kept within scale.
A series of articles exploring the most important things, in my experience that small business owners should plan for when preparing their web site. A new article will be released each day this week covering tips #1 to #5. To receive all 10 tips contained in the 4,000 word e-Briefing, sign up now.
Come back tomorrow for Tip #2 – Looking Good! – Considerations on making your new site look great!
Kieran Harrod is a Creative, Professional & Reliable Graphic Designer skilled in branding, print and web design, with bags of integrity.
Based in Derby, UK, Kieran set up his own business in May 2011 after practicing design since 1997 including 7 years as an in house designer and marketing manager for the UK arm of a multinational. Get in touch to get something designed for your business.
The work that you carried out for me was absolutely what I was looking for. From concept to completion and in particular what struck me the most was the fact that nothing was to much trouble to make sure I was happy with the end product which has certainly given my business the professional edge.
Chris Poplar - CJP Engineering Services
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