Each and every day businesses all over the world, large and small launch their brand new website. It’s a feat that isn’t taken without consideration as this is ultimately your shop window for the world, for some who don’t have a public offline presence it’s their only shop window.
So what can possibly go wrong??
Well in truth, lots!
So in this second post of this series we’re going to focus on the questions our customers i.e. small businesses, need to ask when they’re creating their website – whether it’s their first site or an upgrade. Unlike a larger company you may not have dedicated staff allocated to the task so we’re going to focus on just ten points the SME should consider before signing on the dotted line.
- Price – often the deciding factor, but shouldn’t be. Prices vary dramatically so always get at least three quotes based on what YOU are looking for as opposed to what the supplier can offer you. Worryingly a lot of small businesses appear to pay for their website up-front with no real guarantee that they’ll get what they’re expecting – consider why some companies will accept a deposit and payment on completion whereas others won’t?
- Supplier – does your supplier have experience in the type of site you’re looking for? Will they be doing the work in-house or outsourcing it? Do you get along with them, an important fact often overlooked as you are trusting them with your business?
- Brand – do you have a distinct look in mind for your business? Have you considered what might be appropriate for your industry? What is likely to appeal to your target demographic? Do you have or need a logo/branding?
- Content – who is going to create the content, you who knows the business or the web supplier? If you are availing of the web supplier’s copywriting service will you still have an input on the text and imagery – not to mention, ensure that you ask if you are permitted to use any images included? Or will you provide your own imagery?
- Ownership – who actually owns the website, the domain and the content? The domain should always be registered in your name as it is your business. Is the website yours also or are you leasing or renting it? Are you aware of who is responsible for renewing domain and/or hosting if you have arranged these through a third party?
- Management – once the site is complete, how will you update it? Will you have access to update the site information or will you have the web supplier on a maintenance contract? If there is a contract, do you have an agreement in place in relation to turning around any works required, or detail on how many updates you can make in a given period?
- Contract – you should ask for a written agreement with terms & conditions, payment schedule, details of what is to be included on site (content & imagery), training, sign-off, after-sales and maintenance (if included).
- Security – if you’re collecting customer data e.g. personal information or credit card information, what structures are in place to ensure that the data is secure? If you are collecting customer data, ensure that you are compliant with Data Protection regulations e.g. adding the email addresses received from customer enquiries to your database does not comply!
- Sales channels – if you have a retail premises or a hotel/restaurant for example you will be selling or making reservations offline as well as through your website won’t you? Although it might cost more in the short term, getting software that works across all channels as opposed to treating your website separately will probably be more beneficial in the longer term, so ensure to ask about all of the options up-front.
- Marketing – a website is not finished the minute you sign off on the final draft, you need a plan to market it i.e. tell people it’s there. If that plan includes Social Media, Email or a Blog this should be incorporated into the site – you can even have the relevant channels or templates customised to match the site. If you are availing of marketing packages such as SEO ask exactly what you are getting for that – and if it’s a guarantee of page one on google be very wary, nobody can guarantee that!
There are many more factors to take into account, particularly as you look at sites which integrate reservations, online shops, customer forums not to mention mobile sites or apps. Our post today however aims to highlight just some of the essentials you need to consider with every website – without getting caught up in the technicalities or jargon.
If the task of having the website created is more difficult than anticipated consider employing a consultant or project manager who has done this before as often that second pair of experienced eyes can pinpoint future difficulties that you hadn’t considered and would therefore be a small cost in the greater scheme.
And, of course you can talk to us here at The Marketing Shop where we provide SMEs with WordPress sites, work with a partner in Ecommerce – and not forgetting of course that Debbie has experience of project managing large-scale sites in the past.
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