Customers have different reasons for owning a website. Some aren't certain why they should have a site but they know that being part of the on-line commmunity means that you're part of business. We have also pondered the question, "Does every business need a web site?"
Business has an established place on the internet. In some cases, e-commerce may be integrated, sometimes lightly, sometimes more intensely. Part of being in business today is being able to say "Yes." when, as it will invariably happens, someone askes, "Do you have a website? Can I check you guys out on line?"
We mustn't forget the golden rule, "Content is King!" Once you've defined interesting content you must consider if any technologies will enhance your visitors' experiences. Does the money spent on making your site "cool", satisfy your real needs.
You must still set out to define, before starting, what will constitute success ... delivery of pre- and/or post-delivery information and/or support. Helping your end users learn about your product ... and promote outlets. There are many ways to define success. You need to consider what yours would be.
Time and time again we, as web designers, ask ourselves the same question, "Why, if there is uncertainty surrounding the use of your web site as an advertising tool, are businesses not using their web presence in that which the web is known to be successful, namely: 'dissemination of information'?" Okay, gamble a little, dedicate some of your web site to advertisement but use it, also, as a customer support tool. The Internet is great for after sales support. You see, this is the reason many of the big software companies are so successful on the Internet. Certainly, they sell their products over the Net but the most important reason is "after sales support": download the upgrade for software, answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) etc. You know, from experience, the most commonly asked questions about your products and services? Do you put answers to these questions on your site? Do you allow or encourage your clients to ask questions over the Net instead of using your 1-800 number? Certain kinds of rebate coupons may be delivered to clients over the Net instead of physically printing them (thereby reducing some of your printing costs)?
Cool is great! Make sure it delivers real, needed knowledge ... if it's specials and prices or easy-to-use, effective, after-purchase support. We done support can contribute to measurable reduction in after sales support costs.
Did you know that a professional web site developer's best clients are those who have tried to put a web site up on their own, or have hired someone straight out of University? Can you imagine why? It is almost certain that this approach will fail because in order to put up a successful web page, one must have a combination of talents. One must have a good understanding of the Internet - not just from the latest and greatest on the Net but also about doing business on the Net. One must have a good understanding of computers and know how to create Internet impact. Marketing on the Internet is not the same as in the physical world and, most important, one has to know how to measure Internet success. One must have an understanding of business in general - the processes, assessment skills - in other words, experience and maturity.
So, let's go back to the earlier question, "Does every business need a web site?" In our view, you need a web site for you can (with or without our help) define what would constitute success. You need a site that will follow on your path to success. Our view is, websites change. To maximize impact, design your site well and with good, basic principals. The first re-design of a site should include some cool. Going forward, you will find an effective middle-road to a perfectly balance delivery system for your content. In some cases, however, cool really matters (like a night-life website).
Cool stuff matters for some businesses but remember, what is cool on the Internet today may be totally 'uncool" tomorrow ... and we mean "today" and "tomorrow" literally. This is why web site maintenance and upgrades are so important. You can saddle yourself with a significant bill over-building the "cool" factor and not giving enough to the "content" factor - then finding yourself trying to re-adjust your site.
The coolest site on the net today is the one where content is always fresh if you're using maintenance interfaces or having your developer (or a staffer), freshly maintained content still rules.
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Last Updated January 1, 2010
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