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THE FIRST STEP TO A SUCCESSFUL WEB SITE

There are probably a few Web sites that don’t need to examine their goals before they start; sites about the family cat or other personal home pages come to mind. Otherwise, goal setting before work begins is essential. As Stephen Covey wrote in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, “begin with the end in mind.”

Your first step when developing, revamping or updating a Web site is to establish your business goals, not your site goals. Don’t try and decide whether you need Flash, an email newsletter, or a Member Only section at this juncture; instead, work on clarifying the goals of your business or organization.

Are you looking to sell more products or bring a new product to market? Are you trying to gain more market share or keep a competitor from doing the same? Are you trying to increase membership, build a community, improve communications, become more profitable, cut costs, hire new employees, or something else entirely?

Once your business goals are clearly defined it’s a simpler task to develop your Web site and allocate your budget. Since we’re all working with a limited amount of time, money and resources, understanding our priorities makes decision-making easier. Your site needs to support your business goals; pages and features that don’t accomplish this can be unnecessary expenses at best, and at worst can drive away business.

If your business goal is to bring a new product to market, it’s easier to allocate more home page “real estate” to promote that product. Easier to budget more of your time or money to develop content on the benefits of your new product. Easier to spend more of your Web marketing dollars on a pay-per-click advertising program like Google AdWords or Overture to get your product on the first page of an appropriate search.

If your goal is to increase your organization’s membership, it’s easier to understand the need to develop a Member Only area with unique content as an enticement to join. To appropriate funds for an online payment system to convert more visitors into members…and “strike while the iron is hot.” To develop an affiliate program that rewards current members for bringing new members into the fold.

Although it’s most cost-effective to determine your business goals before developing a Web site, it’s never too late to improve your site through a goal-setting exercise. If you’re unclear on your business goals, how can you ascertain if your Web site is successful? Take some time this week to clarify your business goals, then determine whether your site is currently helping you reach these goals.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, please contact us.

–Rich Brooks

President, flyte new media

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