Many small businesses develop their website in a haphazard way. They hear that they should get a website, think about it for a while, and then eventually get some pricing from a website designer. The designer typically asks a couple of questions about their business, gets a copy of their logo, and then grabs some decent stock photos and presents a couple of website designs to the business owner. After a couple of rounds of revisions, the designer will code the site with whatever text the business owner throws together. The designer makes the site “live”, gets paid and disappears. Then, the business owner is surprised when the website doesn’t work for them – no one can find it, no one contacts them, and their site doesn’t look that great when compared to their competitors’ sites.

The fact that most websites don’t work isn’t surprising, because the standard approach is backwards.

The first, and most important, question to ask when you’re ready to design a website for your small business is: What do you want the website to do for your business? The strategic piece of website planning is that you need to consider before starting the design or the text for the site.

Many business owners don’t ask this question, or let their designers know what they expect from the website, because they figure that it’s a “given” that the website will perform not just one, but many, of the basic functions that a website should perform.

And, it should perform some of them, automatically. Like:

  • Extending your brand by including your logo and Visual Vocabulary, and with text that’s consistent with your other marketing materials.
  • Being accessible to visitors with all types of browsers
  • Giving existing clients information about your business and how to contact you

But, these are the most basic functions that every website should perform. There are many other, more advanced strategic jobs that your site can do for you. More on that in tomorrow’s post!