What is the purpose of your website?
There are three main types of websites: the brochure site, the lead generator site, online shop
There is a fourth type of website- the vanity site. But financial rewards are rarely connected to this type of site. Of course a website may be a mixture of these three (or four) types, but unless you have defined your business model, the purpose of your site, it will be a waste of electrons.
Who is your target audience?
You must target the language, pictures, and content of
your website towards your target audience. Don't assume everyone has the same
level of understanding that you do
How will people find your site?
Your business website exists only for one purpose, to make you money- irrespective of the business model. It must pay its way. So if no-one visited your site, why would you pay for it to exist? Your website should be educating your customer and creating credibility for your business. The key elements of this are: Search Engine Optimization; A strategy to get links to your website
How do you want people to navigate through your site?
This ties in directly to question #1. If you have a clear goal, getting the customer to that goal should be clear and simple. Easy and simple navigation is much better than fancy animated redirects.
What are you going to do to make visitors linger at your site?
The average website visit is 68 seconds. You must have a strategy to make people linger at your site, get to know you and see the value you can give them. The three secrets for making people linger are CONTENT, CONTENT, and CONTENT. To get visitors to stay, you need to give them information that they want. This will not be information about you (at least not on the home page). Your goal should be to educate your visitor. Give them information they will not get elsewhere on how to solve the problem that caused them to search for you in the first place. If you website is just sales hype, your visitors will be gone in a lot less than 68 seconds.
What do you want visitors to do once they are at your site?
Do you want people to sign up? Do you want people to
purchase items from your store? Do you want people to come to a physical
location? Many would say- "Buy lots of stuff from me." Well, in your
dreams! Most people will not buy from you, or call you on the first visit to
How will you monitor results and gauge the effectiveness of your website?
No-one can guarantee what is going to work for you. A good web host will provide you with a statistics package that will tell you how many visitors you have had, when they visited, how they found you and what they did at your site. When you make an offer, make a change to your site, or undertake some marketing campaign, whether online or offline, check the response on your statistics, and the conversions that you have achieved on your site. Do controlled experiments. Don't change too many things at one time, because you will never know what caused the change. Find out what works, and what doesn't. And when you find a good thing, stick to it!
Are you really going to trust yourself to do all this?
You may be using a graphics design company instead. But don't confuse determining your website business model and marketing strategy with the color and movement of your website graphics. You will need someone to do the html programming. I don't suggest that you should not use a great website design company (or a good friend who knows HTML) to build your website, but don't let them be in charge of your marketing!