So, you’re starting a small business, congratulations! I’m sure you’re jumping to get your website up and in front of thousands of customers. But, here’s the thing, have you done all of the foundational work? Do you have a plan? Building a website without planning is like driving cross country without a map. You’re going to end up lost and begrudgingly asking for help after you've burned through your gas money. Frankly, diving in head first can be costly and you will soon find out all the little details add up quickly! It’s truly much easier, timely and cost effective to prepare your road map with a thoughtful, fleshed out strategy.
Taking the DIY approach is admirable, and doable if you’re willing to be flexible and patient however, there is a big learning curve. With so much to consider when thinking about building your own website, there’s a few things you should think about up front. First, what purpose is your website going to serve? Who will it serve? And, why should they care? Before you get into the basic functions of your website take a step back and think about why you are building the site in the first place. What unique value will it bring to your customers. Granted, you’ll need to put some time in on the front end, but all this planning will save you tons of time and money down the road as well as harvest better outcomes.
The big question you should be asking yourself is, how will your website fit within your overall brand and brand strategy? Will it serve simply as an online brochure? Perhaps you want to be able to interact with your client base, keep a weekly blog or have an ecommerce site? Considering your website will serve as the foundation of your brand it would benefit your business and success if you took the time to answer these questions up front. No matter what purpose or market your website is serving it is important to understand that you’re not the only business out there doing what you do. Differentiate your business from the rest.
Okay, so you don’t want to do it all by yourself — great! In that case think about how much you want to be involved when it comes to the management and maintenance of your website. There are a lot of options here! For example DIY website platforms like Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly have options where all of the maintenance and updates are handled on the backend. You never see the upkeep. However, if you want to make updates to your content they’re easy to use.
However, maybe you want a great looking site and you’re not quite sure how to make your site as effective as it could be. This is where a web designer would come in handy. You may just hand off the whole project and let a designer or brand strategist handle everything. Or maybe you aren’t interested in getting involved with the design, but would like to create consistent content, that’s an option for you too! No matter how involved you plan to be, it’s important to make a decision before committing. Your involvement will determine the process and elements that make up the actual construction of the website. So if you don’t want to be a part of the process at all be sure to be very clear about your goals when you begin planning out the website with your web designer.
The best part is all of your website’s important information can be integrated in your marketing plan! Having a well planned website will serve as the basis of your overall marketing strategy and can be applied to other aspects of your marketing collateral.