By now, we are well established in the Internet era and it’s a given that every business should have a website available for its customers.
We know we simply cannot be taken seriously as a viable and competitive entity without one.
Surprisingly, however, a large number of small to mid-sized company websites are found to be weak and ineffective. Upon closer inspection, many websites today are dated and badly structured, rendering them almost devoid of any real value.
Some websites could even be detrimental to a business, doing more harm than good. In these instances, the websites reflect poorly on a company’s image and don’t further its business goals.
The key now is to re-design your website with the aim to make a positive difference to the business in a measurable way.
The success of the entire website re-design project rests on leaders in the company to agree on building the new website as a marketing tool.
It’s an investment and a process, which if done correctly, will yield quantifiable results and contribute to the growth of the business.
The process starts here:
Define the business goals you wish to achieve for the website
Consider some of the biggest marketing challenges your company is facing. Brand recognition, credibility, product/service perception, etc. Can they be solved by the new re-designed website. Collaborate with your sales department to understand the barriers to the sales cycle. Involve key stakeholders of other departments to determine what business processes can be transformed into a website functionality.
Goals could also be related to automating a business task, customer support, wiki for employees online payment, free trial etc.
Making a list of realistic objectives, phases of implementation and setting metrics to measure their performance, is the foundation of building a successful website.
Plan your timeline to launch the website
Building an effective website is a lengthy and demanding endeavour. Depending on the scope of the project a timeline of between 6-8 months should be adequate.
Websites with complex functionalities can take much longer. A good idea for such websites would be to launch with ‘must have’ features and release the balance in phases. If you are planning to launch the site before an important event like a trade show, for instance, make sure you plan the release of your website well in advance.
Formalize the plan
Create a formal document that states the requirements of the project. It can be as simple as a project description, or a more comprehensive RFP with project goals, functionality requirements, budget allocated, responsible internal stakeholders, review stages, testing procedures, timelines and deliverables.
This will not only make the project “real”, it will also act as a valuable reference guide for completing the project while meeting the expectations of all involved.
Commission the web project
Website building is a serious, complicated process with many moving parts. The best practice is to outsource the web development project unless you have a specialized team to accomplish it.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” said Abraham Lincoln (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/planning).
So go ahead and sharpen your axe. Take the appropriate time needed to plan carefully before you begin your project to build the company website.