To ensure that your website will be beneficial to your business, you must first clearly define your goals from the beginning. Focus on a primary function and build your site around delivering that to your visitors.
If you balance your business goals, the needs of your audience and your resources, you can create an effective website. Other important things to keep in mind are your long-term goals and the ability for your website to grow.
Some common goals that you can follow to help on your first small business website:
- Online sales. If your primary business is selling physical goods, focus on creating an online store that gives visitors a sense of place and makes purchasing easy.
- Marketing. If your primary business is delivering an offline service, you may want an online brochure. This sort of website can deliver useful, practical information about your service and also develop customer loyalty.
- Online service. If you deliver an online service, you’ll need to build an infrastructure for the delivery of your service. This type of site is more complex than the first two and requires you to anticipate what you’ll feature in your product catalog and how you’ll handle online payments and process online orders.
- Customer support. While every business with a website may want to provide some level of customer support, a higher level of support will require a much more sophisticated design. Whether you’re selling directly from the web or from a physical storefront, providing up-to-date product information, tips and tricks for using your product, and a page for frequently asked questions makes it easy for customers to get the information they need.
Regardless of the primary purpose of your website, a number of design fundamentals apply broadly to all good website design. Give people what they want. It seems obvious, but sometimes we forget and give people what we want instead of what they want.