Build A Better Website

by J. L. Walters - Date: 2007-01-21 - Word Count: 527 Share This!

Building a website isn't usually rocket science, but you have to do your homework. Just like buying a home, a new car, or any other big ticket item, you have to do a little research and planning to make a smart purchase.

The first thing you have to decide is what you want. After being in business as a web developer for over 12 years, I'm amazed at the number of business owners that want a new website (usually because the competition has a new one), but can't articulate exactly what they want, or why.

So, how do you decide what you want?

I recommend that you start with an exercise called, "Management by Walking Around". The premise is this: walk around your company, interact with your staff and find out what's going on. Look at how people do their jobs, follow paper trails, look at processes, etc. Is there anything that might be done more efficiently online?

If you're stumped, ask yourself these three questions:

What are the top three things customers call your company about?What tasks consume most of your staff's time?What are the top three complaints you hear about your competitor?

Armed with this information, brainstorm strategies to implement at your website (intranet or extranet) that would handle some of these issues and make your company work smarter, faster, cheaper, or more efficiently.

Now, you might be asking yourself, "Is all of this work really important?" This question is best answered with an illustration.

To buy the right business vehicle, you have to know it's intended purpose. A Toyota Corolla won't be good at hauling large construction equipment, but it might make a good delivery vehicle. The same is true of your website. Once you define its purpose and goals, you can start to make other key decisions:

What technology is available to help me meet my goals?What resources (money, staff, time) do I need to plan for?Should I implement my solution in phases?How will I measure success?

The next step to building a better website is to work out the details. It's one thing to determine your key goals and overall strategies, and quite another to implement them online.

Several years ago I sat at a conference room table with a potential client discussing their vision for a new company website. One of the desired features was an online calendar. "Do you want it to look like the calendar in Microsoft Outlook, or do you want a chronological list of events, or do you want something in-between?", I asked. Each person at the table had a different answer. A calendar at a website is a simple thing, but until it is precisely defined, it's impossible to implement.

To build a better website you have to be able to define what each feature will look like, and be able to define the workflow. This is where choosing the right web developer can pay off. A good web developer will guide you through the details, educate you on the alternatives, and develop a solution that meets your needs.

Nobody knows your business better than you do. Do your homework, determine creative strategies to implement online, and find an experienced web partner to help you work towards your goals.

Related Tags: website, research, smart, strategy, interactive, goal, purpose, web site, plan, partner, efficient, developer

Jeff Walters is Vice President and Technical Director at Wild-Webs, Inc. in Overland Park, Kansas. He has over 12 years experience in custom website design.

Visit his blog: A Web Developer's Guide for Business Owners.

Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles

© The article above is copyrighted by it's author. You're allowed to distribute this work according to the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs license.

Recent articles in this category:

Most viewed articles in this category: