When you´re writing your business plan, don´t neglect the importance of a Web site presence. In these days where Google.com rules over the Yellow Pages and Craigslist.org is preferred to newspapers for job listings, including a Web site in your plans should be regarded as a "must" rather than a "maybe."
Kristopher Couch, principal and creative director, and Ben Ryken, principal and project director, possess decades of experience between them. As the management team for Refreshmedia.com, they recommend beginning by reviewing your marketing plan.
"A small start-up should think about their marketing plan overall and decide how much the Web is going to be a part of that plan," advises Kris. " Some start-ups may require a one-page site… enough to provide some basic information and let the world know they exist. Others may have a full-fledged online strategy delivering content, products or services online."
In addition, notes Ben, consider the size of the Web design firm that you hire. "The cost of a project will typically scale depending on the size of the team working on it." The larger the team, typically, the higher "the overall project cost," Ben says.
Tempted to handle your own design and development for your Web site? If you´re on an extremely tight budget, "that may be the best solution," Ben notes. "But I think you have to realize that templates are not going to create long-term success. Each company is unique. Your website needs to communicate your unique message and positioning. Plus, you sometimes only get one shot at it. A site that doesn’t stand out or deliver what a potential customer is looking for will be quickly forgotten."
Kris recommend s that you focus on the results of a professionally designed Web site: As with any business expense, you want to get the biggest bang for the buck. "The great thing about the web is that you can track that and know exactly what you are accomplishing. Determine the number of leads or customers you want your site to generate. Be clear about that objective with the firm and ask them to put together a plan that will deliver on those goals. In the end, if the firm delivers, then the costs will be well worth it in the long run."
These two experts see the three most common mistakes as:
1. Moving forward without planning. "Think about your business goals and objectives first, then put yourselves in the shoes of the potential customer," says Kris. Ask yourself what the customer is seeking and what information they need." Taking the time to do this assessment at the beginning of the project will increase your success — and reduce your costs.
2. Neglecting the importance of Web site promotion. "There is this false theory that ‘if I just build it people will eventually find it.’ You need to look at the process as a whole and realize the website is just a part of attracting new customers," Ben notes.
3. Building the site — and neglecting it. The Refresh team encourages "always encourage collecting user feedback and planning on adding content and refining the website over time. Your website is a unique tool with the ability to deliver a lot of information at a low cost, target different customers with specific messages and to adapt and change quickly as business needs dictate."
Check out the Triactivekids.com site as an example of the Refresh team’s work!