Friday, March 6, 2009

In the beginning...5 steps to a website idea.

Since I've been having a number of discussions lately with companies that are creating their first website I want to go through what I believe to be a good planning process for that first website. This will be done in a number of installments, what I hope to do is give you a road map that will take you from your initial idea, to being live on the internet, so here we go...

1- Requirements: Meet with your key personnel, stakeholders or trusted advisors to brainstorm what essential requirements you have for the website;

2- Define objectives: What is the purpose of your website? Information, sales, registration, membership, employee communications? What do you want the website to accomplish? At this stage let your imagination run wild, if you can think it, it can probably be done;

3- Competitive analysis: You know who the competition is, what are they doing, and what are they NOT doing that you can address;

4- Business processing: Are there repetitive tasks associated with new client development? Would automating these improve efficiency, and profitability?

5- Budget: Decide how much you can afford in both human and capital resources.

I've saved the budget for last intentionally. When you are planning don't think about the budget first because you want to be as creative as possible. It may be that your first website isn't everything you had conceived but if you know where you would like to get to it will help the overall development process. It's also important to think of this budget item as an ongoing expense because just like any other asset you have it will require at least maintenance, and in all likelihood, once you see the results you achieve with a well planned and implemented website, you will want to add the next level of functionality that you had initially dreamed of. Budgeting appropriately is key to the long-term project success.

As a final observation, too often I talk with companies that think of the website as something that is separate from the rest of the business. I strongly urge you to think of your website as a partner or another tool for your business. This kind of thinking will allow you to see the future more clearly and achieve the greatest ROI. By the way, companies who go through this kind of process and implement an effective website and internet presence plan, end up identifying this asset as having the greatest ROI for their business. Take time, get help, engage!

We're at the edge of the future!

Andy Xhignesse

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