The Australian Small Business Blog

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Golden Rules of Websites - Rule 4 in a series

By Ron Stark

Many small businesses that want a website make a fundamental error - they somehow view the website as a website, and assess its look, content, layout and so on from the viewpoint of it being just a website. Frequently this happens under the well-intentioned but misguided advice of a website developer.
The only way, in my view, is to begin by describing your business from the perspective of your clients' needs, and the website will automatically follow. In other words, your website is a simple by-product of understanding the following three core aspects of your business:

  • One, what business you're in. For example Mercedes Benz are not in the business of selling cars, they're in the business of selling prestige. Everything you say and do has to reinforce your basic message, as with all the other forms of marketing that you use.
  • Two, who are your target market. This implies geographic, industry and personal demographics as well as understanding their needs. For example are you offering cost savings to the financial director, lifestyle to the newly-retired couple or the prospect of winning to the amateur athlete?
  • Three, what are you trying to achieve by having a website. There MUST be an objective beyond simply that of having a website because you think you should. Some possible objectives: branding, delivering services, directly selling products, supplying information, education, triggering enquiries, reducing cost of sales, establishing reputation.

Then, and only then, can you start to think about the website, which is but one of many vehicles for delivering on those three things. Guess what? The technology of the website doesn't figure in any way, shape or form, unless it inhibits your ability to deliver on your objectives - any more than the reader of your brochure cares about the brand of printer that was used to produce it, who supplied the paper, or what type of delivery van brought them to your office.
As I said in my book, clients don't care if your website is slow, ugly, difficult to use, thin on information, poorly written and dated. They'll simply click off your website, never to come back. They will, however, have the permanent impression that your business is slow, unprofessional, ugly and difficult to deal with - as well as staffed by a bunch of antiquated and out of touch has-beens.
Remember that ALL visitors will click off your website. What matters are how soon, with what intention and with what impression.

Golden Rule 4
It's not necessary to know anything about IT, computers or programming to have a website. However it's crucial that you fully understand your business, your market and have clear objectives.

This is the fourth article in a series that exposes the many, yet frequently overlooked fundamental business principles that successful websites should follow. The author Ron Stark is the founder of Snapsite, who make the effort to first understand your business.

The Australian Small Business Blog

1 comment : said...

Hey Greg ... as a web developer myself (and small business owner to boot) I can only agree with this post.

Many a time have I been approached by a potential client that has been told (by friends/relatives/businesses/media etc) they need a website and have approached me for one.

I'm always grateful for the chance to do business however I have on many occasions found out in the first meeting that the client has no real plan or goal or even any idea why they are requesting a site.

Often I have asked them some probing questions with which they have no idea the answers and politely point out that maybe they don't really require a site right now. Most agree and even better still they go away and I hear back some months later that they have done some homework and come up with a goal or plan. From that point on I help to develop a solution to meet their goal.

I would also like to add that it may not be necessary to know anything about IT, computers or programming to have a website however it is really helpful if a business owner has at least some current knowledge of the web and the potentials the web offers for doing business and gaining customers.


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