Wednesday, August 6, 2008

How To Make Your Website Work For You, Part 9

Field of Dreams. Remember the movie? "Build It and They Will Come." Great phrase. It is the strategy of so many with regard to their websites. I know this for sure: That would be a dream in the field for sure. It might have worked when you were the first of 50 websites out there, but when you are one of hundreds of millions of sites, that strategy is ridiculous. That is just hope and hope is not a strategy.

A better strategy is to build your site, keep building your site, keep adapting your site, keep promoting your site, keep networking your site, keep linking your site, did I mention promoting your site?

Let's ask ourselves some questions. One, what do we really want our site to do for us? Answer this in as much detail as you can with the knowledge that you have right now. Do you want the site to make your phone ring? Sell products online? Provide free information? Be a way for your organization to have information available in many different locations quickly? Be a resource for your customers to have information more readily that you used to mail out or hand out? Announce events? What is it that you really want your site to do for you and/or your business.

Two, since you probably now have a list of things you want your site to do for you, what are the most important things? Whatever those things are, we will want to focus our website on those and the rest can be added. What I mean by that is to build the site around the most important aspects of what you want it to do. For example, if selling online was one of the most important things, we would want to develop the site based on this aspect and create an effective online storefront and user-friendly shopping experience design. If you were presenting products and wanting the phone to ring, we would showcase those products in a way that would peak someones interest enough to want to find out more and make the call. In addition, we would have the phone number in so many places, that no one could miss it. The basic design should be aligned with the most important aspects of what you want your site to achieve.

Three, how much time do you have to devote to your website? If you say you have a lot of time, you could chance doing it yourself, but I think most people are going to say (honestly) that they do not have much time, nor do they want to commit much time to yet another project. In this case, you will pay someone to assist you. It will not take all the burden off your back, but it certainly will make it a much lighter load and will benefit you greatly. Get real. We have clients who hardly have the time and focus to get us the information that we need to build their website. I cannot fathom them building their own. Next, forget the brother-in-law thing. Having relatives and close friends that claim to be willing to help you get this done will generally drag out the process further. We have seen this over and over. Trying to save a few hundred by this avenue will actually end up costing thousands in lost time and/or revenue. Give it to someone who is in business doing this for much better results--and accountability!

Four, how's your crystal ball? Is it ready to predict the future for you? We know one thing for absolute certain: everything changes. Life is movement and is constantly changing. Nothing rests. Your website will need to change constantly as well, otherwise it is a waste of time and energy to build it unless (and this is the only good reason we can think of) you want it just to be a business card that very few people will see--kind of like throwing a business card on the sidewalk near Central Park in New York. Make this commitment early on: keep you site alive by continuing to feed it, massage it, love it, care for it. It will need to change. You will want it to change. Accept that up front.

And, five, when do you want to get started? The best answer is right now. Human nature is procrastination and this is especially true when people are dealing with things that are not confident in, not knowledgeable in, and are unsure of. There is a tendency to want to gather too much information. Better to move forward now, making mistakes along the way than to wait and wait and never get around to it. It is just another learning experience! So learn! Learning is good. Get started today. Right now. Don't put it off another day. Call three companies, talk to them about your ideas for a website, make a decision. Go with your feelings. You have good intuition. What you need is a decision, so make one. . .now! There, that's better.

If you build it will they come? Maybe. We know one thing for sure: they won't come if you just build it. You will need to do more. Plan it well, get it built, adapt it as needed, keep expanding and growing the site, make it more and more valuable all the time, promote it every way that you possibly can and they will come.

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