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Determine Your Website's principal Purpose

by Jeetu | Jul 22, 2014 | Category: UI Design
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When you begin a website design, you must have your main purpose clearly in mind. I say this because it's easy to have conflicting purposes.

  • If you're a website design firm, you may want to show off your high tech goodies with your client's site as the showpiece.
  • If you're an employee stuck with this task, you may want to look good for your bosses and not do anything for which you can be blamed -- you've got to protect your backside.
  • If you're a volunteer, you may just want an excuse to tinker and be praised for it.
  • If you're a business owner, you probably care about the bottom line. You're wondering, how much this will cost? And will it be worth it in the long run?

Dear friends, recognize your own needs -- they're legitimate. But to build an effective website design company, you've got to look at the business's or organization's needs and make those primary. From the organization's perspective, what must this website do in order to be successful?

Let's look at some common website purposes. Put an X next to all that apply.

  • Build your brand. Create an online brochure that will help potential clients, customers, and partners learn about your company and look at it in a favourable light. You're trying to enhance your brand or organization image. I've heard people disparage this kind of website as "brochure-ware." But this is very legitimate for some kinds of companies, especially local businesses or organizations that aren't trying to conduct national or international commerce. You want people to know who you are, what you do, where to find you, and how to contact you.
  • Provide product information to drive local sales of your products and services at dealer locations. Auto sites are a good example. Many manufacturers don't sell on their sites, but point people to retailers who carry their products.
  • Sell advertising. A few sites are designed to sell advertising -- Yahoo!, Google, and other portal sites are examples. But these days, there's far too much advertising space and not nearly enough money to fill it all. Internet advertising is improving, but is still under-priced. You may be able to sell a little advertising if you're a portal site for an industry, or perhaps put some Google AdSense ads on your site. But these aren't big money-makers. Look at advertising sales as a hopeful bonus, not as a sure thing.
  • Sell products or services directly over the Internet. You want to conduct e-commerce and sell to a national or international market. You'll have some kind of ordering system for one or more products, or perhaps an extensive online catalog. You may offer an online service that can be delivered over the Internet or that can be initiated online.
  • Earn affiliate commissions for sales and leads generated through links on your website. Savvy marketers are building microsites designed to generate search engine traffic for a particular hot product or service. When a visitor clicks on one of their links, he is referred to an e-commerce site, and, if a sale results, the affiliate gets a commission. Perhaps a form on your site generates leads or subscriptions for another company.
  • Provide customer service and support. Websites are a great place for troubleshooting guides, FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), technical information, etc. You can generate Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) labels. You can provide multiple ways for your customers to contact you (see under Point #9 below).
  • Save money by means of online efficiencies. Companies have used the Internet to save billions of dollars. Taking orders online with real-time credit card authorization saves paying call center operators and cuts entry errors. Online catalogs save lots in paper, printing, and distribution costs. Online FAQs and knowledge bases cut the number of customer service personnel you need. And I'm just scratching the surface here.

What's the design decision here? To be clear and focused about your site's objectives and purposes.

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