At some point or another almost all businesses will utilize the power of the web to help sell their product or service to a wider online market. How do you go about doing this?
One of the hardest things a designer has to do is try to establish exactly what the client is looking for either because they just want a finished site and don’t want any input or else they are too shy to say exactly what they want. The more input at the beginning the better, it helps you get the site you want and gives the designer the satisfaction that he/she has built a site that you are proud of.
Once you have made the decision to create an online presence but before the paperwork is signed and sealed consider the following questions to ensure the type of site you go for is suitable for your needs.
The first question you need to ask yourself is why you want the site in the first place. Are you looking to sell online or is your sole aim to get each visitor to contact you for more information? Don’t be encouraged to take a hefty site if you have any doubt it will not suit your purpose. For example if you are a small local business and only looking to show that you exist then a brochure website, of say 4-5 pages will more than likely do the job. However, if you’re trying to sell internationally then you will need to consider a much more detailed and impressive site, possibly translated into a few key languages to really push your company and show that it is capable of surviving in an international market.
Most web design agencies will happily take care of creating the content of your site for you. For this there will normally be the extra charge of a copywriter and possibly a photographer if you don’t already have images that can be used. Utilising a service like this is great if you know you want a site but don’t have the time to devote to it. Its also a great way of getting your content targeted for the search engines by using a web specific copywriter (they will know the right way to phrase, list, keyword the copy…all the boring bits that need considered)
If you have plans to expand in the next year or so it is worth bearing this in mind prior to the first build of your site. Could the site be built now and expanded using the same design and navigation to accommodate. For example, buying an online store may seem too much initially but could that store be used as a catalogue to begin with and then be ‘switched on’ to a shopping cart when the need arises? It may seem more like a larger project than is initially required but could save your company a greater expense later.
Giving thought to this will help both you and your designer get an idea of the style of site that you want, will it be aimed at teenagers maybe in a magazine or manga art style or will it be corporate clients where maybe a simple classy design would be more suitable?
Look around the net for ideas, bookmark anything you like and really think about why you like them. Is it the colours, layout, logos or images? Maybe there is an eye catching animation and you would like something similar? Any ideas you bring will be welcome.
Flash, video, audio etc… are excellent mediums for adding interest to your site and keep it looking fresh. How would multimedia help you sell your service? Well, say for example you run a children’s nursery, a virtual tour would let potential customers see your facilities before booking? Maybe you own a health spa…could a video show off your treatments and facilities better than a still image? Utilising multimedia such as this will keep a user on your site for longer and will undoubtedly give you an edge over your competition.
Written by: Lynne Foster
About the Author: Lynne Foster is a Senior Web Developer at 360innovate – a leading and award winning media company in Scotland.