This is a guest post by Urszula Richards from online iq. I discussed these topics with Urszula in a recent interview for our new Web Marketing Adelaide podcast (Episode 2) and this post summarises and expands upon that interview. You can find out more about Urszula's business; online iq, in their company profile in our internet marketing directory. - Nick, Editor
What are some things people should consider before having a website designed?
There are two primary things a website must do. It must solve the needs or problems of the website visitor, and it needs to help the business owner achieve its goals.Its true to say that the best websites are designed for the end users - as they will vote with their actions about whether there is anything of value or interest to them. This is one reason why it is good to have an objective person to help with developing your site.
The second thing is that it must align with the business goals. For established businesses, these can be quite clear, but for a young business, these could be quite formative and it can be difficult getting to the bottom of what a business offers (especially if it is a service business). So my advice would be to take the time to get very clear about this.
Other things important to consider:
- budget - contrary to what most people do, telling your developer what your budget is will help them help you be realistic about what can be achieved, and appropriate options suggested.
- online shopping websites - these can be built *fairly* cheaply BUT will they work? Be sure to factor into your budget photography (main expense if you have lots of items; but photographs sell), your fulfillment plan (who will be handling orders), shipping and payment methods. Then, you need to allocate funds to some serious marketing. Just because you build it does not mean they will come. If you don't budget for these items, your 'budget' shopping cart may well become a white elephant.
- ongoing relationship with your web firm - a website is a little like a car. You get the car, but you may need driving lessons, maintenance and fuel to get the most out of it. Work with someone you trust - they will be your first port of call for making your website work for you.
Are mobile websites important?
Awareness of mobile is really important, but what does this mean?
It means that you need to be aware that your website will be viewed on any number of devices, including phones, tablets, huge screens and tiny portable PC's. There is no way a website can look exactly the same across all these devices.
However at the very least -
- make sure your graphics do not include Flash (as it can't be viewed on many mobiles); or at the very least that those pages redirect to an alternative mobile friendly page when accessed from a mobile device.
- do view your site on a range of mobile devices and see if there are simple changes you can make to improve it
- consider having a *micro* mobile site version - which would show up on mobile phones, for local business - ie. phone number, google map, possibly faqs; just the basic information 'on the go'
What are 5 ways business owners can market their website once it has been created?
First a note about marketing in general. It should be seen as a form of genuine, long term, relationship building. I also see no distinction between online and offline marketing - "online" is just a medium.
- Make sure you are listed in all the local directories. If you are in a particular niche and there is a directory for that niche, make sure you are listed there. (eg if you are a restaurant, make sure you are listed in Urban Spoon). Take control of these listings - so you have up-to-date and interesting information / photos.
- Blog. You have probably heard about blogging 'ad nauseum' but there is no better way to prove you are current, knowledgeable and interested in your domain. The added bonus of this is that once this has been created, you will actually have something of substance to distribute via your social networks.
- Do use social media - but make it interesting, relevant or delightful (ok, you might not be able to delight every time!) to your audience. Don't simply have social links on your site going to a very empty Facebook or Twitter page.
- Capitalise on your web address. Add it to your signature (make sure it is clickable, and not an image), use it in your print advertising, and distribute it on your business cards wherever you can.
- Understand the importance of your database. Not just names and emails, but who they are. Segment it as much as possible, so that when you do communicate with people, it is a communication which is of value and relevance to them. This is one of the key reasons why I use Business Catalyst to build my websites in. It has a Customer Database and the ability to segment and communicate with your customers. I only wish my clients used it more!! In fact my interview on Web Marketing Adelaide with Nick was a direct result of ongoing, relevant occasional communication via my segmented database.
We are a small boutique web design and development agency offering both the creation of websites and the necessary training, support and maintenance to keep them meeting business goals. You can find us @ www.onlineiq.biz or call 1300 970 730