Every business irrespective of its size, scope, target audience, mission, values and revenue objectives needs a website. But before you actually get started on building a website for your business, you need a strategy in place to maximize your returns from your web presence. There is this mistaken belief amongst business owners that all you need to do to generate revenue from a site, enhance brand awareness, and trigger brand engagement is have a website up and running. Defining a comprehensive strategy before designing and developing a website allows you to make the most of your investment.
A good web strategy answers the following questions:
- Why does my business need a website/what problems will my website solve?
- Who are my target audience and how will my website contribute to their needs?
- How will my website help me beat the competition?
- How will my website allow me to grow my business?
- Where do I see my website heading a year, two years or three years from now?
- What role do I envision for my website in my business’s marketing strategy?
- Will my website be used as a revenue generation tool?
- How will I evaluate the tangible and/or intangible returns from my site?
- Do I have a plan in place if the website doesn’t deliver the expected returns?
An important reason why you need a web strategy in place is to develop a design checklist. This will help you zero in on a successful design for your website.
The design of a website is both a work of art and is also a logical outcome of understanding what your business wants, the expectations of its target consumers and knowing the kind of impact you want it to deliver. For instance, you might want your business to come across as something that offers services to premium clients (your services aren’t affordable); in this case your website design needs to bring home this point to its target audience. The selection of the design elements and its layout will be based on this objective alone.
By focusing on the kind of design your website must have allows you to think about how you want your online business to deliver value. You can also zero in on the kind of content that will ensure your target consumers will keep coming back to your site. A web strategy also helps you identify the different points of user engagement on your site. Whether its social media, the comments section or a blog, you need to know how you want to merge social with your site. A website that is purely content heavy, but with zero interactive features never works in today’s world where website users want to engage with the website content at various levels.
Finally, web strategy helps you address the fundamental question of website design – How do I create a website that drives traffic to my site? The answer to this question lies in the website’s marketability defined by the design of the site. You can only come up with an answer to this question by making informed design decisions keeping in mind the long term goal of the site and ensuring the design is aligned with its marketing goals.
Cutting Edge Goal Driven Development
This is where things get interesting. Your web strategy now needs to be discussed in-depth with the professionals who will bring your website to life. The design goals that you’ve worked out through team discussions need to be conveyed to the guys who will actually design and develop your site.
There are two roads that take you towards website development:
- The first route is the in-house route, wherein your website is designed and developed by an in-house team of experts.
- The second route takes you to a web development company who takes charge of your project and readies a custom built site in accordance with your precise requirements.
If you take the first route, you can make the in-house team a part of the web strategizing process from day one; however if you’re taking the second route towards website development, you need to figure in the selection of the right web development company as a part of your web strategy. You need to be able to pick the right developer for your project; otherwise even the best web strategy will come up a cropper.
Once, you’ve zeroed in on a developer that you believe has what it takes to breathe life into your project, you need to share your existing web strategy with the company and collaborate to flesh it out. Remember, you might not have the technical expertise needed to judge the merits or demerits of your strategy. In such cases, it’s always a good idea to discuss your core website objectives with them and whether your web strategy can deliver on your expectations.
Experienced developers are well aware of the needs of the market and have a clear idea of what will work and what won’t. They’ll be able to tell you whether your design idea will sell and how it can be incorporated in a site where the focus is on offering an extremely satisfying and rewarding user experience. They will also help you identify the information hierarchy, system architecture and features and functionality that are needed to achieve the business goals that you’ve set out to achieve.
With most businesses (including your competitors) having a website, it makes perfect sense to have a website. But, if you do not have a web strategy in place, there is a danger that it will get lost in the crowd, just because you don’t know what you want out of it, and even if you do know what you want from your website, you don’t know how to go about achieving what you want. A strategy defines a blue print for your web efforts and helps give your website the competitive edge. It also helps you ensure that you aren’t getting a website developed just because everybody else is doing it. And finally a web strategy helps you get your hands on a website in time, within budget and helps you earn high ROI from it.