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Five Essential Questions to Answer Before Creating Your First (or Second...or Third) Website
By : Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.

Right after the thought, "I need a website," people usually say, "I need a web designer!" Actually, before even whispering "web design," you need to answer these five questions in as much detail as possible. Once you're clear on your strategy, you can provide better information to your web designer. And most likely you'll be pleased with your new home on the web.

1. What is the purpose of your website?

When you're well-known through face-to-face contacts, your website will serve as an additional source of information to potential customers. You may need only a basic "calling card" site: a list of contact information, coming appearances and basic brochure copy.

On the other hand, your website may be your primary revenue source. In that case, you'll need to direct visitors to your "for sale" section and come up with a plan to take their money. You'll need a shopping cart and perhaps a merchant account.

2. Who will be your ideal target market?

Draft at least two hundred words describing your ideal client. Where does he live, work and play? Where does she eat and shop? What are your client's goals and hobbies? You're the psychologist: create as many details as possible. Some copywriters recommend assigning your target a name so you can see the person behind the credit card.

3. What action do you want everyone to take?

Your home page copy drives your website visitors to a clear, unambiguous target. Keep them on your site as long as possible and suggest a specific action. Buy an ebook. Sign up for your ezine. Sign your guest book. Make it easy for visitors to take this action, placing forms and links right on your home page.

4. How will you maintain your site?

Many new website owners budget the cost of web design and a year of web hosting. But that's only the beginning. A website that's unchanged will grow cobwebs. It's easy to tell when you've landed on a website where nobody's home. Something's broken. The whole place looks abandoned.

You'll need to replace broken links, fix spelling errors, add updates to your schedule, and a whole lot more. And in my experience, your website will look different after five or six months. Time for a new overhaul! That's why I say, "You need to become your own web designer, marry your web designer, or be prepared to pay."

5. How will you promote your site?

A website without promotion is like a 747 flying around the world without any passengers: expensive and useless! You can write articles as free content, swap links and submit your site to the search engines. Fill your website with content, update the content regularly, and write your copy with an eye to your keywords.

You'll have to budget time for promotion or hire an assistant. Planning ahead can help you create a website that makes your job easier.
 

 

 

About the Author :
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., helps midcareer professionals take the First Step to their Second Careers. Weekly Your Next Move Ezine: subscribe@cathygoodwin.com

 
 
 
 
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