Building an effective website takes more than just space on a server and a few coding tricks. The object is not to just have a site, but to make that site work for you. Virtually all the sites and/or pages you will ever see on the web fall into one (or sometimes a combination) of three basic categories:
1. Personal – are pages that people make to tell the world about themselves. They can include anything from “looking for love” pages to online wedding albums. This also includes your home page on services like MySpace, Yahoo’s geocities, AOL hometown and other social sites.
2. Informational – (sometimes called brochure sites) are sites that people or organizations use to tell about a specific subject or group. They aren’t directly trying to sell you anything, although they may be trying to promote a cause or a project. These include research subjects and sites for government agencies and non profit organizations.
3. Business – are sites that companies use to sell their products and services. Some of these sites are quite simple; they just tell about the company, list what it has to offer, and give contact information. Others are very elaborate; containing everything from catalogs and order forms to downloadable software.
To begin your planning, first consider what you want your website to do for you:
- Provide information and referrals?
- Answer frequently asked questions?
- Sell products and/or services?
- Build brand or name recognition?
The answer to that question will tell you what the goal of your website is. It will also tell you the basic type of website you need.
Promotional – when the goal is to make people aware of who you are and what you do. This is ideal for non-profits and community groups that want to persuade and convince people about the need to support a particular cause or idea, or for commercial ventures that need to build market recognition.
Informational – when the goal is to teach people about your industry, cause or organization. Save time and money and improve customer relations by having a FAQ page, directions and hours of operation, and other information for your customers right on their desktop.
Sales – when the goal is to get people to buy. Present your products and services at their very best and get those orders coming in.
When you put some thought and effort into planning, your website will be much more effective if you build it yourself. And if you hire someone to help, knowing your goals and plans in advance will help your writer/designer to be successful in meeting your needs.
Vanessa Shelton is a web designer, marketing consultant and copywriter with over 20 years experience. She uses “The Right Words – The Right Way” to bring your ideas and vision to the world. With newsletters, article marketing, the website refresh, and more in her arsenal, Vanessa is ready to help small business owners and independent professionals get attention, and get results. Visit http://vanessasdesk.com to see how Vanessa can help you.