Sadly, I see a lot of businesses start a website project on impulse. Generally there's some external influence, such as a product or brand launch. A realisation that a website is needed occurs less than 4 weeks before they want it live. They chase the lowest cost provider and push for it to be done in the quickest possible time. All in all, there's little thought or consideration for what a website actually means for their business. Needs are driven by artificial timelines, and little effort is put into understanding the underlying objective of the website.
This approach is short sighted, and generally ends up with mediocre results at best (on many levels).
I know, because I deal with a lot of clients going through the process 2nd time round.
The main problem is a lack of understanding that a website is not an off-the-shelf "product" like a car or computer. There is no one solution that will work for more than one business. Everyone is unique, with unique business challenges, requiring a unique solution.
What a lot of business owners also fail to realise first time round, is that a website is the most visible part of the business. Even if you only market yourself offline, or get most of your customers by word of mouth, your prospects will ultimately go to your website to pass judgment on your business.
Knowing this, make sure you ask yourself this simple question before you begin a website project. How do you want to be seen?
If the answer is, I want to give myself the best possible chance that my prospects will leave my website with the realisation that I am the only one who can solve their needs…. Then make sure you engage a web agency who understands, branding, communication and sales.
So how can you identify such a web agency?
In my opinion it comes down to the questions that they ask you. Here are the top 10 questions that I think an agency should ask you (and why they should be asked).
Why are you really building a website?
The answer is not "because I need it". There has to be an underlying purpose/objective.
Where do you want to be in 10 years time?
If you don't know, are you really committed to your business?
Do you know your clients?
Communicating with impact starts with understanding who you are talking to.
Which products/services generates most of your revenue?
This helps define where to focus your attention, and optimise your return on investment.
Who are you, and what makes you different?
These are hard questions, but good marketer will help identify and articulate this.
What defines success online?
You need to understand your goal paths and calls to action in order to design a bespoke web system.
What do you want from your web designer?
There are more than one set of skills that go into a website including copywriting, graphic design, software programming, and marketing. The agency needs to ensure they have the right expertise to address your needs.
What is your budget?
Is cheap going to give results? And is free software really free? Think about returns, not cost.
What's important? Speed, Quality or Price.
Hint, you can only choose 2.
How are you going to manage your online presence?
Setting up your website is only the start. You have to regularly update it, make sure you stay on-message, evolve as needed, track performance, and ensure you have the right support.
There are a lot of people out there who will tell you they know how to build a website. But there aren't too many that know how to make a real impact for your business online. Make sure you choose the right agency to represent you. If they're asking the right questions, you know you're on the right path