Before you renovate your kitchen, you need a detailed plan. To avoid costly re-design or a poorly functioning site, you also need a detailed plan for your website.
Let's say you decide to renovate your kitchen. You will have identified one or more specific problems". For example:
Our kitchen is outdated and needs a new modern look.
We need new appliances - those avocado ones have to go.
The kitchen is not efficient to work in.
We need more counter space.
Once you have decided that a renovation will solve your problems, you will likely look around, in home improvement stores, magazines, etc. and develop a wish list of the features you want in your new kitchen.
A professional will take your problems and your wish list, and work with the structure of your kitchen to develop a detailed plan, or blueprint, which must be followed to make your new kitchen a reality.
Just as you can't build a new kitchen without a plan, you can't build a website without a plan.
Many businesses decide they want a website, but do not have a clear vision of what they want the site to accomplish. They will start with something, and then decide to add other elements later on. This can lead to costly re-design, or a poorly functioning site. A website is built, not unlike a kitchen, with the underlying structure put in place first. You don't want to have to go back and make modifications to the plumbing or wiring after the new cabinets have already been installed.
The Website Purpose
Like the kitchen renovation, your website needs to be built to address the problems you have identified. There are many reasons to have a website, depending on the particular business. The more clearly you can articulate the problems you want to solve, to your website designer, the more effective the result will be. Examples of some of the purposes a website can serve include:
- The website will be a marketing vehicle, providing information on our company, products and/or services to potential customers.
- The website will be a key distribution channel, selling our products directly to our customers.
- The website will be a corporate communication vehicle, providing financial and other relevant corporate information, to shareholders.
- The website will be a customer service mechanism, allowing us to engage in effective two way communication with our customers.
- The website will be a convenient tool for our existing customers, providing them with 24/7 access to a searchable database of how-to information on using our products.
The Website Wish List
Before your kitchen blueprint can be finalized, all of the desired elements must be detailed. Do you want an island with a sink and stovetop? A built-in microwave? An appliance garage? Similarly, you need to provide your website designer with the details that you want included in your website: the major sections, the information, any special features.
The Website Plan
When you provide your Website Purpose and Website Wish List to your website designer, it will allow them to develop the architecture of your website to accommodate your requirements.
It will also allow them to give you a better idea of the cost involved. Something that you wish for may not be cost effective for you right now. The designer may be able to offer you alternatives, or a plan can be developed to add the new feature in 6 months or a year.
The time you take up front in planning will allow you to build the kitchen of your dreams. Likewise, the time you take in developing your website strategy will provide you with a blueprint to ensure the success of your on-line venture.