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Site Design & Development

If this were easy, every site would be a winner

In most cases, the reason for taking any product to market is to make money for the company. To make money, you must increase market dominance and survive. To survive, you must make the company profitable in a competitive world, now including the web. In order to compete in the market and to possibly be a major industry player, you need to:

  • Have a quality product
  • Have a targeted market for your product
  • Operate a web site worth talking or writing about
  • Provide solutions to day-to-day problems (content)
  • Be a "daily use" web site
  • Develop a strong following
  • Make others aware of your presence

It is obvious that with the proper ingredients and talent that you can make this happen. Part of the ingredients is a technology solution, and part of it is a marketing solution.

Technology, in the form of an internet Web Site, can either chase away or entrap prospects. Much like an ad, it must compel a surfer to want to spend time at the site. And much like an ad it must hook the visitor. But it even more closely resembles the curb appeal of a home for sale. The visitor knows in advance that the seller wants to sell. The visitor has already identified themselves as a potential buyer simply by visiting. But a visitor chooses to see the inside of the house only if they like the look of the property from their car window where they make the choice to park and visit or to speed away. A well designed web site offers appropriate curb appeal, and compels and entraps visitors.

Marketing is making the world believe you even if you are wrong, and in the case of being right, it is making the world believe that you are bigger than life. A good marketing program can turn dreams into reality. For years companies have been selling products that don't exist. Venture capitalists have invested millions of dollars based upon a product concept long before it is ready for sale. Marketing is getting the consumer to invest in a product that does exist by focusing on the real and imaginary contributions and how well they match the needs of the client.

Strategic Web Site Development is the development of an
integrated technical and marketing design that will allow the
Web Site owner to realize their objectives for the site.

Have a quality Web Site: Does your Web Site present a clear message that addresses a compelling need? Is it robust, offering an intuitive user interface, especially in the area of navigation? Does your site describe why a client needs your product in one sentence? Does the client understand that your product is their desired solution, and that they will receive a professionally packaged, working, and properly supported solution? Clients hate surprises, so make sure there are none.

Have a targeted market for your product: Is there existing or potential market size to support the sale of your product at your selected price point? Do you have a plan to achieve top-of-mind recall and brand name recognition as a quality supplier to this market? Does your Web Site talk about both your product and your competition in an intelligent way? Does your market traditionally respond to ads, promotions, direct mail, conferences, trade shows, and other marketing programs? Are the decision makers (people that sign off on the order) able to order online, or are they discouraged by having to print and mail a form? Do you sell to large businesses in the thousands of units, or to small businesses or individuals a few units at a time? Does your market depend upon seasonal, economic, or sexual characteristics? This requires a comprehensive review of lifestyles, habits, hobbies, legal and environmental trends, work habits, emerging technology, chat topics, and demographics of content hungry consumers. In other words, do you have a clear image of your ideal consumer, and a definable way to reach them? Even if the answer is yes, there still needs to be enough potential to justify the process. Given this, please proceed.....

Operate a web site worth talking or writing about: This can be accomplished by carefully considering what the user wants and needs from your site. It is an accurate assessment that a successful Web Site is one where the user has enhanced access to compelling content and products with absolutely no barriers to having them buy a product. What can we tell the user that they may not already know? And how can we make the user need that content on a daily basis?

If you can answer these questions and develop a focused site, only then will
you have a Web Site that is worth the development effort. Otherwise, don't bother.

Provide solutions to day-to-day problems: If you look at your dominant web competition, those other Web Sites are popular because they meet a need of their targeted users. It is important to understand market direction and hot issues, and to develop a content strategy based upon emerging global marketplace trends. A thorough analysis of the needs of the targeted visitor helps you to understand what else can be offered to help users manage their lives. And once the data is available, if you can make the user crave it you will be on your way to a runaway success.

Be a "daily use" Web Site: This is a characteristic of every successful site. Every other significant Web Site was able to establish themselves through frequent use patterns. After a while it becomes impossible to consider life without them. It is just as important that your site be used on a daily basis. Give the user something they need and is habit forming, and you have frequent use.

If it can gain a following, if it is a hot site worthy of award-level
reviews, if it is easy to use by the masses, yet sophisticated
for the power user, and if it is of general high value (perception - managed
by a marketing program), then it will be visited often and by many people.

Develop a strong following: In order to be a leader, you need a following. To have a following, you need all of the above, and support. A fan club will follow their star as long as that star meets their needs and is constantly newsworthy. That takes the form of offering unique content better than any other Web Site, or in having that content be unavailable (or at least inconvenient) through any other means. If you can get the support of other strategic partners through reciprocal link programs then their Web Site becomes symbiotic, and probably synergistic, and the relationship will create a following for the product.

Make others aware of your presence: This is purely a marketing effort. The identified need must be clear and compelling to properly design a strong communications program for awareness, for rankings, for reviews, for awards, and eventually to support a following. Properly done, a continuing search engine program and (probably) a reciprocal link program will be key components in your marketing plan. These are basic building blocks to product success. Provided that the product you are promoting through your site meets each of the above characteristics.

By designing a Web Site within these simple boundaries,
you should be able to establish yourself in your product niche,
and to have built a solid foundation from which to defend your
market share from the myriad of competitors the web is sure to provide.

Consider a professional Web Site designer: This takes the form of a commercial suggestion. You want a site in order to promote your services. It must be classy, maybe a little bit elegant, and certainly it will serve as a testimonial to the capabilities your firm brings to your clients. You are probably dealing with a home page, services page (or more), a "who we are" page, a testimonials page, some free content throughout your site, probably on a few pages, press releases, a contact page (with a form), and maybe a couple of more pages. You are possibly needing e-commerce, but if you do then there is a data base, five to ten ordering and confirmation pages, a lot of purchased software, and triple the complexity and monthly operating costs. It is not too easy to guesstimate as to the scope of your project without additional information, but based on all of the sites that we have designed a small site as described above would take a developer about 7 to 8 weeks to develop. Our design is integrated with a full SEO Siloing architecture, keyword selection, and W3C implementation. Our projects start at 40 pages and are priced at $800 per page delivered. Content writing is an extra fee.

For you to do it yourself starting from ground zero would take 8 to 12 weeks for something nice (probably costing far more than your salary for the same time) but it would be what you wanted. The hard part is that the web changes daily, and finding something that you want (as a model that you can copy) is not too easy. I suspect that this option is a greater risk than using a professional designer.

Do it yourself: Surf the web looking for sites that you find artistically appealing and print/ bookmark them all. You will need to purchase tools for editing the site graphics, and maybe a page editor like MS Frontpage or something else. Get comments from others about which sample page formats they like, and then copy that page. Edit the text and graphics to be your information and get feedback. Then use what you have learned from books on web development to re-engineer the HTML in your own commands to be to your enhanced format, your specific content, and your targeted market.

Personally, if you need it fast, hire someone to build your Web Site for you. After all, is web design your business, or is it simply a business tool?!

Hope this helps.