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The Right Way to Plan a Business Website

by Paul J. Scott

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Planning a great business website is the first step toward getting a web presence that will be unique, profitable, and effective. But we regularly meet with business owners and executives who don’t quite understand what’s involved. In fact, many of them tend to think “website planning” amounts to expressing some color preferences and thinking about which pages need to show up on the navigation bar. That’s a good start, but there is more you should do with your web design and development team before the real work begins.

To give you a sense of what should be involved, let’s run through the right way to plan a business website…

Know Your Business Itself

It goes without saying that your business website should be a reflection of your underlying business. It can’t be, however, unless you and your design team are both on the same page about what it is that makes your company unique, and why customers turn to you instead of your competitors. Unless everyone involved has a good grip on your unique selling proposition (USP), your website is going to have a generic feel. That’s not going to help you with your sales or marketing efforts, so take your time in explaining important advantages and benefits.

Know the Result You’re Looking For

What do you want your website to do, beyond giving information about your products and services? Do you want your pages to generate leads over the phone? Should they incorporate e-commerce features that ring up sales 24 hours a day? Or is it more important that the website build your credibility so buyers will visit your retail location? Knowing the purpose of your web presence, and the results you’re looking for, is crucial to making sure these outcomes can be met later.

Mix Your Marketing Voice with Your Market’s Needs

At the heart of any successful Internet marketing campaign is the intersection of two distinct elements: what a business says and represents, and what the company’s customers really want. In other words, you have to know your market, along with the needs of your customers, and how they intersect with your own marketing personality. Your web design team can help you to find the right tone and style, but only if you let them know where your business fits into the industry, and which buyers are most important to you.

Patience and Consistency

There isn’t any single element that makes a website successful, but there are lots of ways to hurt your own credibility with inconsistencies or details that haven’t been thought out well enough. Until your design and development team has a good understanding of what you want to accomplish, they shouldn’t draw a single pixel. By beginning with the right knowledge and perspective, you can ensure every element of your website turns out being consistent, and that they all move you toward your bottom-line goals.

It can be easy, when you’re excited about the possibility of getting a new website, to rush through the planning and discovery process. However, a good web design and development team won’t let you, and you shouldn’t try to rush them. After all, the planning you do today will show up in the ROI you get from your website tomorrow. Isn’t it worth a bit of extra time to get the tool you really need for your business?

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