One of the first steps towards getting a website up and going for your business is you need to think about why you are getting a website and what you expect the website to achieve in the way of visitor and the return on your investment. Taking the time to understanding what you want your website to achieve will make the reaching those goals that much easier.
It is fair to say that there are not too many business and organisation that couldn't benefit from a website however if you, and the website designer, don't understand the purpose of the website then you could simply be wasting your money.
In any marketing exercise you should understand who your target audience is, what you want them to feel about your business and ultimately the action you want them to take when at your website. To get you thinking about type of audience and therefore the type of website you need these are my views on the types of sites around.

Cold Calling.

Potential customers that use search engines or other advertising sources to find your website because they are looking for the products or services that you have on offer. The advantage you have over a traditional cold calling sales is they have a come looking for you so you just need to make them want your product.

Statistically it is estimated you have 20-30 seconds to provide the visitor to your site with enough information and a pleasurable experience to make them want to explore your site further. If poor design, lack of information or hard to find items frustrates the visitor in those first 20 odd seconds then you have probably lost them to a competitor, unless of course their website is worse than yours.

Under the bonnet of websites targeting the cold calling audience should be a focus of making them Search Engine Friendly(SEF) and loaded with Search Engine Optimasation(SEO) techniques to ensure you get a good position on the early pages of Google.

Referral and Information Website.

If your new business is more from word of mouth and referrals from existing customers then your focus on the site should be around why they should do business with you and presenting a positive image of your business. Your website is in many cases how people will judge whether to do business with you then your professionalism, knowledge of your industry and the general quality of your business needs to come across. An ordinary picture here can mean a loss of potential customers without you ever knowing they have visited.

These type of website are more tuned for creating a good first impression and quality of information to encourage potential customers who are more likely to take the time to explore your website. Information should still be clear and easy to find, your abilities and quality of your business needs to come across and even though they have more than 20 seconds they will be busy so you need the get the information and impression across to quickly.

Existing Customer Resource and Service.

Perhaps you already have an established client base and so the website isn't really going to be targeting new business, instead you want to use the website for your existing clients to provide them with resources and information to make doing business with you easier. Exclusive content, client logins, regular email contact and even social networks or forums could all be used you to connect your client to your business.

The type of information and resources you might be sharing with your customers is such that you want them to be able to help themselves more and thus take some of the workload off you and your staff. Providing information that is educational about your industry or customers needs,  answering Frequently Asked Questions or facilitating networks where your customers may help each other.

Catalogue and eCommerce Website.

By know means an expert in the online shopping site i have seen enough to realise just how immature that segment of the online world really is so be wary and choose carefully if going down this route if you are dealing with large volumes of stock or clients.







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