Finding out exactly where you're heading means knowing where you've been.
Whether you’re looking to build your own website from scratch or revamp an old one, there are two crucial questions you should be asking yourself:
- Why do you want a website?
- What do you want to get out of it?
The answers to these questions will pave the way towards your ideal website, and help you achieve your ideal outcome. But we’ve got some learning and soul searching to do first!
To help you get started on your website goals, we’ve broken it down:
1. Taking a look at your business
2. How your website will help
3. Knowing the customer
4. Getting familiar with the standard
5. Sorting out your expectations
1. Start by taking a look at your business, or yourself
To figure out exactly how your website can help you, you need to know how you can be helped.
Whether you are a business trying to sell a product, or you’ve decided to start writing a personal blog, knowing how you operate and what you need to do to move forward is a must.
What you or your business do for others, determines what your website will do for you.
Typically, what you need from the public in order to keep yourself or your business running, is what you’re trying to obtain from your website.
Get familiar with what your goals as a business are. You’ll be able to create a plan for your website once your personal direction is in place.
Your values have room to speak, too.
Websites for personal, business or commercial use have about one thing in common: they align with the values of the owner. A website has the potential to act as a visual representation of who you are, and customers often view websites as the face of a company.
This means that knowing who you are and what is important to you, is just as crucial as the purpose of the site.
2. Ask yourself: how is a website going to help?
This sounds trivial, but a website designed to sell merchandise to retail customers can provide help for the respective business, however, serves little purpose if customers can’t actually purchase the items online.
Everyone's website goals are different. Sometimes a website just acts as validation for your business. It’s a place for customers who have heard about you to check out who you are, your services, and experience. That’s okay too – just make sure you’re aware of its place in your business or company. You’ll soon find out how this reflects on the type of website you build.
Websites are what customers use to browse, learn, and buy.
Given that you know what your business or company is doing, that should lead you into knowing what you need from a website.
- If you’re selling a product: your website is also used to sell.
Businesses that sell products can benefit from creating an online presence where customers can view and make a purchase, or easily find a way to do so. After all, online shopping is the easiest way for a customer to find what they’re looking for.
Most people even prefer online shopping then physically going to a store. In fact, last year New Zealand’s online spending reached $4.3 billion, and Australia hit $21 billion the year before.
Creating a website to advertise your product and offer the option to make purchases online, can increase your customer base and expand your business.
If you're only selling products in store, a website can still be a useful tool for your business to showcase your products and help customers find you.
- If you’re offering a service: your website is the primary platform for advertising.
Potential customers and employees will primarily use the internet to browse a service and to find work. The content on your website is used to show what you do and appeal to customers and potential employees.
It can even be used to authenticate the work you do, and give customers the reassurance that your business is legitimate.
If you haven’t noticed a Yellow Pages around lately – that’s because it’s now online. Even finding a phone number has become an online activity where your website becomes the instant face of the company.
Advertising a service through a website is now an industry standard and is the most common way to let people know you exist, and showcase your work.
- If you’re teaching or sharing: your website is used to educate.
Websites are also used as a learning platform. Whether it be for education or interests sake, the internet is the place that people go to seek new information.
Personal bloggers and websites that are used as informative platforms, focus on sharing their knowledge and getting people interested.
To build your own website for education, means gaining a following and subscribers to move forward.
3. Know your customer (and who you're up against)
Now you know you’re going to create a website to either sell, advertise, or educate, you've part of your website goals sorted. What's next? You need to find out who you want to be visiting your site.
Think about it this way: if you’re a retail store selling women’s clothing, there’s not much point in attempting to target young children.
It’s pretty simple. Your customer is your target:
- If you’re selling a product: your website targets who you sell to
- If you’re offering a service: your website targets who will use your service
- If you’re educating: your website targets who wants to learn
Reaching your web goals means knowing who will help you achieve it.
Attracting your target audience isn’t just something that websites aim at doing. You’re probably already doing it with your current business marketing.
But it’s important to know that your website is living in a large world.
Use it properly, and it can lead your business to thrive.
But without knowing who you’re targeting, what they’re interested in, and where else they might be looking – your website could get washed away.
If you’re looking at getting a new website started, there will always be competitors who are doing the same thing as you.
Just as a coffee shop faces the competition of the other cafe across the road, your website is competing against a whirlwind of other websites – just a click away.
Which leads us into another crucial point – knowing exactly what your competitors are doing.
4. Get familiar with the standard
Discover what other people who are trying to achieve the same thing as you are doing.
Finding out what their website offers to people, what it looks like, and what they can get out of it, is important to get your head around before you get started with your own.
So do a little research. Browse the web.
Search for the same things that your business sells, or your company is advertising.
It’ll help you learn what you like and don’t like on the internet, and might give you ideas for building your own website and solidifying your own web goals.
5. Sort out your expectations
So you clicked on this page for a reason, right?
There’s some driving factor influencing your idea to revamp or create a website.
Whether it be to improve your business or to get yourself started on a personal blog, you probably already know why you want to start.
A website doesn’t have the same purpose for everyone who creates one. Getting familiar with its place in your business will direct you moving forward and determine the finer details in how to make your website.
Now, you need to know where you’ll go.
Think long term, but not end-point long term.
If you think you’ll be able to sort out the plan for your website from start to finish, from now until the end of your life – you’re wrong.
The internet is ever growing and vast, and what this means is setting website goals with the knowledge that once they’re complete – things could change.
Look forward with a marker in sight, and be realistic.
- If you’re using your website to sell - how much do you want your business to grow?
- If you’re using your website to advertise - how much more work do you want?
- If you’re using your website to educate - how many visitors do you aim for?
It's time to put your feet on the ground
Okay, hopefully, you’ve taken in a lot of information. Don’t be too daunted, because once you know where you're going it’ll be much easier to start heading there.
Ask yourself the same questions again:
- Why do you want a website?
- What do you want to get out of it?
Now, we know we’re teaching you about the digital world here, but sometimes getting a tangible grip on your ideas can help – so get a pen, paper, and write down your answers!
Keep your web goals in the forefront of your mind while we delve into some details. They should shape the way you build your own website. Every new step in this process should lead you back to why you started.
They are in essence, your goals in creating and maintaining a website.
When can I start moving?
Finding your direction in this large new world can take some time and trust us, it’s much better to pace yourself than to end up lost.
But before you start running around wild with your new found goals, you need a home.
Your website needs a place to live – a place where it belongs.
This means discovering what ‘neighbourhood’ you’re creating a website in. In less metaphorical terms, the type of website you’re going to build.