This will be
determined by the type of business you have and your own unique
needs. Think of your site as you would contemplate hiring a new
employee. If you were going to hire someone new, what
would their job be? Would you want a salesman (sales or
presentation site)? A customer service representative
(basically answers to frequently asked questions)? A
showroom clerk (sales catalog)? A complete sales team
that presents your products, then processes customer orders and
collects payment (e-commerce)? Some combination or
something in between, or even something else entirely?
What will your site will accomplish?
Persuade prospects to do business with you? Show
customers your wares? Take some of the load off your telephone
queries? What is its job, and how does it relate to the
rest of your operation?
What do you want to say?
You hand someone a business card in hopes they
will call when you have more time. When they do call, what do
you say? Your website can say the same things, 24 hours a day
and seven days a week, to practically any number of people at a
Who are you talking to?
As a small business, you are almost certainly
serving a niche market. It is essential that you isolate and
profile that niche as well as you can so your site can do the
sites are designed primarily to attract new prospects, while
others are meant to serve existing customers. Directing an
existing customer to a prospect oriented site will only annoy
your content must be tailored for the people you expect to see
it. For existing customers, you might consider a section on the
use and enjoyment of your product. A bicycle shop, for example,
could publish news and articles of interest to cycling
enthusiasts. By making your expertise available, you create and
maintain an ongoing relationship with your customers.
What kind of impression do you want to make?
Big companies can create a fictitious persona
and hire people to play the roles they have created. It may be
tempting to use the relatively anonymous nature of the medium
for pretense and affectation. You might get customers that
way, but you'll seldom keep them.
How you will generate traffic to your site?
You might hire graffiti artists to paint your
web address on the water tower, but we don't recommend it.
For the small business, it may be best to utilize a website as a
complementary component of your existing advertising. Let
your site take up where the ad leaves off with a more in-depth
What are your budget constraints?
If your budget is very
limited, or you are not ready to commit to a large expenditure
of time and/or money, your site must be planned accordingly.
Don't include dated or fluid material if you haven't budgeted
the inevitable expense of changing it. You are better off with
only a couple of well done, low maintenance pages than with a
larger but sloppily executed and poorly maintained site.
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