So you’ve decided to get your small business or store online, and you’ve taken the first steps. Now you need to build a website. For best results, take some time and review these 10 questions. Your thoughtful answers will give you a solid start to an effective and successful website.

  1. Describe your business in a few (1-3) short sentences.
    The “essence” of your business should be immediately obvious when visitors arrive at your website, therefore having your “elevator pitch” ready is critical. Must-have’s in your description are what your business does / what product or service it offers, what problem it is solving (i.e., why you are offering your products or services), and why it’s better than competitors. Nice-to-have’s include your key values and why you started your business.
  2. Do you currently have a website? If yes, list what is and what isn’t working for you?
    Also, how long have you had your website? What platform is it based on (e.g., WordPress?) Can you provide Google Analytics access to find out which pages are visited most and least frequently?
  3. Why do you want a website? [SKIP IF YOU ANSWERED “YES” TO #2] It isn’t enough to say, “because everyone has one”. Think about what your website can and should do for your business. Here is a great article to help your thinking on this question. Understanding this upfront will help create the best possible website.
  4. List the URLs of websites that you love and what exactly you love about each site.
    Taking the time to look around the web a bit to see what you like and don’t like will help get you closer to the website of your dreams more quickly.
  5. Who are your main competitors?
    What do they do well, and what don’t they do well? Do you like their websites? And really important: what makes you different from your competitors?
  6. Who is your website’s target audience?
    Think about their demographics – Men? Women? Young? Old? Approximate income level? Geography? What do you know about their lifestyle? Their values? What are their purchasing habits? And most importantly, what do you want these people to do when they get to your website? The more you know about how your you target audience thinks, the better you can determine the appearance, layout, and navigation of your site.
  7. How are you going to promote your website?
    You wouldn’t open a store without planning how to get shoppers in the door, right? Do the same thing with your website. You can use marketing tactics like email marketing, social media, SEO and paid advertising to get traffic to your site. Having at least some idea upfront will help determine the design and features of your website. Here’s a good list of website promotion tactics.
  8. What are your goals for this project?
    In other words, what is your definition of success? For example, do you want a certain number of visitors to your site each month? Do you want site visitors to sign up for your email newsletter? Buy products on your site? Do you want to increase your brand’s visibility? By establishing the specific issues you’re trying to solve for your business upfront, you stand a better chance of producing an effective website. Here’s a list of common website goals.
  9. What specific features and functionality do you want on your site?
    Now we’re down to the nitty gritty! “Features” you may want on your site include a blog, social media sharing functionality, shopping cart, online payment functionality, a contact form or mailing list sign-up form, portfolio, contact information, events listing, photos of products or of your business. Here’s a list of the ten things customers say they are looking for when they visit a small business website. It also may be helpful to go back to #s 4 and 5 above to review what you like and don’t like about other sites. As a rule, more functionality costs more money, but as with anything associated with your business, it’s balance between what you want and what your business can’t survive without.
  10. Who is going to provide the content (the copy and images or photos) for the site?
    Related to #9 above, it’s important to have a plan before you start to provide the all copywriting and the images for your site, as your developer is building / coding the site’s structure. If you have the time and are a really great writer or photographer, you can provide these items yourself. If you have any doubt, then let the experts do the job. Customers expect a professional representation of your business on the web, as it lends credibility and likability to your business, so it’s important to get it right. For imagery or photography, you can purchase inexpensive stock photography, or you can hire a photographer to take photos. Just make sure you leave enough time to do the content work upfront. And don’t forget, your website copy should include keywords so that your site is optimized for search engines.

Answer these and you’re ready to start building (or rebuilding) your website! Need help? We build websites, create content for them, and promote them with email marketing, SEO, social media and more. Contact us today.