You’ve decided to go ahead with a brand new website for your new company, but what do you really want it for? I’m particularly asking small traders here who feel that they need a website because, “everyone else has one”, and feel that having one will give them some unknown advantage, even though they can’t say what that advantage will be. In this post what I’m asking you to do is to have a good think about why it is you want a website – what exactly is the reason? I’m not trying to put you off having one – no chance of that, but I’m trying to make you realise that just “having” one is pointless if you don’t decide what you want it to do. This is what Informal Requirements Analysis is all about – working out what your expectations are.

Some people think that having a website will automatically generate more business – this isn’t true of course – if no one knows your website is there then who’s going to look at it?

Here are a few things to think about before developing a new website:

1. How are people going to find your website?
You could have a business card with the address on, or print the address on the receipt, or have the address on a loyalty card. Make sure you use it in the signature of your emails. These are all ways which give your website a chance to be noticed.

Another way to be found is by being linked to on the internet. A great way for this to work is by having an article of interest which people will search for.

2. What will they think of you when they visit your website?
This is crucial. There’s no point getting people to your site only to find out that you’re not worth looking at any longer. Think about engaging your customers. If you’re a café, don’t just have your menu there, have a couple of speciality recipes and cooking techniques. If people like your food and they can find out how you do it then they’ll be delighted to see this. Make sure you change the content too – change it at least every month and make it obvious that more stuff is coming along. Add dates to articles and people will see progression. No one likes to read old articles, even if they’re good.

3. How will your website encourage customers to spend more at your business?
This is the most important aim. Added value is what you’re after. For a lot of businesses you can go far by offering web promotions. This can even be as simple as having an online voucher to print off which will give you a free coffee when you buy two meals or a 10% off your bill when you spend over $100. Time limited offers are best because people will go back to see what your latest deals are. People love a bargain.

4. Ask your internet development guys for advice.
This might not seem so obvious, but here at Charlotte Web Design we see so many different marketing approaches that we’ve seen the pros and cons of them all.

The main point I’m trying to put over in this article is to really think hard about what you’re website should do. Don’t just rush into any old design because it looks pretty or feels like the right thing to do. Think about what will help your business and make sure you consult some web design experts to talk about ideas rather than just about how the pages should look, otherwise you’re missing a trick.