Your Website: Tips to Get Started

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Planning-tips before designing a website

It's a foregone conclusion that if you own a business, you need a website. Even if you live in a cave, and sell cave-drawing material, you will benefit from having an online presence. The trick is making the right online presence. Designing a website that fits your particular business model and marketing needs requires some pre-production consideration. To help companies just starting out, we have put together a checklist of things to think about before hiring a web designer (even if it's not us).

First, let's start out with the basics. What do you want your website to do for you? The first question we usually get is "how much does a website costs?" Before we can answer that, we need to know a lot of details, and this is where we usually start. Lots of people can build a website, but building the one that fits your needs requires some detective work.There are several general categories that helps narrow the field of choices down. Let's start with just three broad website categories.

Online Brochure Website:

These websites are basically expanded informational brochures so prospective clients/customers can learn more about your company and products. This doesn't mean your website has to be boring. Using the latest web 2.0 technology, multimedia and effective web design, TBG can create a stunning, informative website for you showcasing your company/products. The follow-up question to this type of website is "what do you want people to do after they learn more about your company/products. (More on that later)

Business Builder Website:

This type of website offers all the information from an online brochure website, with one major difference: you expect your website to generate leads from the Internet. Rather than just telling your customers to go to your website and read/watch the information, a business builder website needs to channel potential customers to your site using several different strategies like search engines, online advertising, online marketing and key word optimization of your site. In order to for your website to generate a lot of traffic, be prepared to work hard. First and foremost, you need content worth visiting. Professional web design, multimedia, galleries and well thought-out organization and navigation are essential, but without great content, it's just so much fluff.

eCommerce Website:

The next step is to actually sell products online using a shopping cart and payment processor. If you are thinking about selling products online, you can combine all the aspects of an information website with an online shopping cart. Your site doesn't have to be just a shopping cart. You can have galleries, streaming video, Flash-based multimedia, audio, music -- anything that will help sell your products, plus, the shopping cart. Obviously eCommerce websites are more complicated than an informational website, and thus costs more to develop. However, with the advances in web 2.0 technology and content management systems, TBG can develop an online store that is surprisingly affordable.

Once you decide on the basic type of website you would like, it's time to move on to the next step:

What type of assets do you already have?

Content is king, and you'll need plenty of assets to populate your site. These assets may include previously published printed collateral, previous or current websites, previously produced multimedia, video, printed advertisements, business and/or marketing plans, or even hand written notes on a napkin. We can use these pre-existing assets, or custom design and produce make everything, you need including writing copy for your site. If you're on a budget, we will use whatever existing assets that we can, providing you understand that with the Internet "things are a bit different."

  • Photos: Digital files are best. Scanning photos, especially from newspapers or poor quality printing is not a good idea.
  • Text: You can't have too much. Search engines only see text, and in order to reach a good key word penetration, you'll need articles that are written for your audience and search engines. You may consider writing articles as "landing pages" keying on specific search terms you may think your audience might use. These landing pages need to be content driven, however. You can take the opportunity to explain in greater detail the finer points of your service or product. People can click these for more information, but reading is not required on a general read of your site.
  • Multimedia: If you already have video or multimedia -- great, we can use it! If not, you may consider having TBG produce a custom video featuring your products/company. More than ever before, video on a website is a great sales and marketing tool. Plus, these same assets can be posted on many other social sites, increasing your web presence. YouTube is one example. We can create your own YouTube channel, post your video assets there, and it's like having two separate websites for a google search.
  • TBG Assets: After almost 20 years of design, we have a large library of stock photos that are included in the price of our designs. We never charge extra for stock images unless we need to custom purchase something outside our library. We also specialize in custom 3D animation and illustration. If you don't have it, we can create it.
Taking stock of your assets, will helpĀ  you determin the next question:

A website is never finished

Everything changes. Technology, audiences, your products and marketing strategies, your employees -- nothing is static, and everything is constantly shifting, changing and morphing into something else. It's easy to feel overwhelmed at first, so a good approach is to ask yourself, "What do I need to get started." You can have a larger plan, and far-reaching vision, but at some point, your website needs to go live. There are several reasons to start with the bare minimum instead of a full-featured site. One advantage is the quicker you're up and running, the earlier search engines can start indexing your site. Another advantage is we can quickly put in place the foundation for much larger websites so potential customers can have some information vs. nothing.

Deciding on what you need to launch will also help budgeting. Perhaps you launch with half of what you need, and wait until next quarter before "finishing" the rest. After your site is launched, you can use statistics from your site's traffic, and feedback from your customers to evaluate where different areas need to be punched up. Evaluation and change are important in a website. TBG creates websites that are robust enough for future growth and feature-rich for today's audience.

What now?

You've decided what type of website you would like to have. After taking stock of your assets and determining how large your website will be, the next step is surprisingly easy: Call TBG for a free consultation. We will come to your office, sit down with you and discuss what options are available.Call (208) 389-2868 or send us an email. We're confident that you will be pleasantly surprised how affordable having a professional and dynamic website can be.