Do you have a business and don’t have a web profile or website? If you said yes, it’s almost as if your business doesn’t exist. In this modern era, people and companies are on the internet for information. Why do you think people visit a website? It’s primarily to find information. And if you’re in the business world, information is critical. You need to have a website for your customers. It needs to contain information about what you can do for them.
Websites have become vital assets for almost every company – sometimes replacing company stores and often times providing the majority of interaction with the marketplace.
Defining the core functions of your site will guide you through the rest of the decisions you’ll need to make regarding site’s architecture, technology to use, design & layout, functionality, content, and interaction with your marketing, sales & customer service teams.
Websites are a vital component in almost every marketing plan, be it in B2C and B2B. For many companies, websites have replaced company stores or print publications, and for B2B companies, they’ve replaced the corporate brochure and can play an important role in:
- Supporting your brand
- Facilitating sales
- Generating leads
- Nurturing existing leads
- Delivering content
- Communicating to and servicing existing customers
- Generating publicity
Think about your brand and your current marketing activities. What role does your website play in your customer acquisition activities? Are you a pure-play e-commerce brand, where your website is your store and delivers the majority of the brand experience? Or are you a B2B professional services company that just needs to confirm the brand impression your people deliver to the marketplace?
In today’s market, many businesses fall somewhere in between the above examples. If you’ve mapped out your sales processes or customer journey, review those to see how influential your website is on the process. Does your site need to convey specific information and defined points in the sales cycle to create a customer? How critical is it to your entire marketing and sales?
To begin the requirements process, the first step is to identify the main objectives for your website and what your users will want and need to see before they’ll act. Once you’ve defined those requirements, you’ll have a good idea of whether you have a simple or complex site.
Simple Website – Custom Build
When would you need a custom-built simple site?
- You have a specific design that doesn’t match any of the available templates in the marketplace
- You only need to convey only basic information for the short-term – you just need to have a site that says who you are, what you do, and looks good
- You don’t need to communicate a large amount of information with a dealer network or distribution channel
Sophisticated Website – Custom Build
When would you need a more sophisticated site?
- You have a large volume of content to deliver
- You have specific design/layout/architecture to use
- You’re using your site to facilitate your sales process and need to deliver the right information to your prospects
- You need to generate and nurture a large number of prospects
- You need to heavily leverage organic search marketing: Appearing on search engines when prospects search for topics that your company can address
- You use regular email marketing with articles, special offers, and more
- You’re placing ads and listings on industry sites
- You need to display a lot of products, details, & pricing information, and prospects need to be able to find that information quickly
- You need to process orders, store customer information, let prospects search your content or provide other functionality
However, for any given company, the homepage is its virtual front door — and face to the world. So be it simple or sophisticated website, make a great first impression with your homepage.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s why your homepage is undoubtedly one of the most important pages on your website. It should be brilliant.
An easy start can be Templates:
Before 2010 or so, pre-built website templates and themes were rare because most were poorly designed and difficult to use and customize. That’s changed. Today, there’s a huge market of well-designed, high-quality templates available in marketplaces like ThemeForest, Template Monster and Studio Press.
The benefits of using a template are in reduced cost and maintenance, as you can most likely eliminate the time for:
- Multiple design revisions and approvals
- Mobile/responsive design
- CSS & HTML coding
- CMS integration
- SEO integration
You can also add functionality with a wide variety of plugins. And today, most templates are built using responsive design, which means the text and navigation change based on the size of the user’s screen, which is critical for viewing on mobile devices. Templates are a better option than custom design for a simple site in many instances. Some can be used for sophisticated sites as well. Some of today’s templates provide multiple layouts and customization options, but the key to getting the most value out of a template is to perform as few “custom” coded changes as possible.
When you use the template functionality that is pre-built, you achieve the economies of scale listed above and save on development costs. However, when you begin changing the code of the template, many times you can end up spending the same amount of development time and lose the benefits of the template.
The Role of Design
Design has become an important website element as users have become more sophisticated. Users visiting both B2C and B2B sites now look for more than just product/service information — they’re looking for an entire experience.
Well-designed websites can support a brand and cutting-edge design can define a brand. Poor design will always hurt a brand. Some elements of design are subjective, but many others aren’t – there’s a science to the use of color, design elements, navigation, text placement and people. If you’re using a template, most of your layout and design will come with the template (though your choice of photos and graphics can play a significant role in conveying your brand).
Now, outline your ideas about what you need for your site. Keep these high-level, as you’ll list more specific ideas about colors, fonts, graphics and sites to emulate when you get to your requirements report.
These are few of the advantages and benefits of creating a website for your business. Do you know of other advantages to be gained by having a website? Feel free to let us know your thoughts by commenting on our Facebook Page.
You might also want to check out our services page. Let us help you develop an effective website solution for your business, tailored to honing in on your prospective clients.
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