Monday, June 11, 2012

Ask why before you build a website

A lot of people ask me - "Hey I want to make a website for my business - How do I go about doing that?" and my first response is - "Why do you want a website?" The answers mostly is - "oh but in today's times isn't is necessary to have one?" OR even "People ask what is your website address and I need to give them one", OR "Everyone I know has one so I should have one too." OR sometimes few people say - "I want to increase my business".

Well it's great to want to have a website. However what is equally important is to know why. Answering the question why helps define the purpose / end result desired, and the target audience, which in turn helps decide the features, technology and other issues involved in starting to plan building a website. Just as you didn't start manufacturing Razor blades, or selling packaged food because one fine day you just wanted to, similarly you shouldn't make a website just because it's necessary to have one.

I meet a lot of people who have build websites, just because someone told them to or one fine day they decided that everyone else had one so they went and got one too or because someone told them that it was a must to have a website if one wanted to grow their business. So they went and got a web designer or an ad agency or a nephew or niece to make a website for them. Now they don't know what to do with it and most lament - "Oh I have a website but it hasn't really helped me in any way."

Yes there are a lot of useful, interactive websites in India today that have helped and are helping the businesses grow, however what I am talking of here is the numerous many who have built a static website in the past or those who are wanting to built one and believe me the number of such businesses is way way higher than this who have functional useful websites.

So to all these people my advice is
  1. First define the purpose - keep it simple and narrow it down to one or two or maximum three basic functional purposes that can be defined and measured. e.g Do you want to sell products to consumers? Or do you want other companies to hire your services? Or do you want to attract talent? etc etc..
  2. Then based on the purpose define the target audience for the website - who are you building it for. e.g Your dealers? Consumers? Investors? Potential employees? Potential Investors etc. Narrow the list down to the key audiences for the key purpose or purposes.
  3. Once you know what you want, for whom & why, then it's fairly simpler to decide how to go about finding the right team or service provider to start the process.

Have someone with in-depth knowledge of your business and target audience drive the process of making the website. Make sure they also have authority and reach within the organisation to act as a bridge between the people who run the various aspect of the business and the team that will build the website.

It's very rare to meet someone who wants to build a website and knows precisely what they want from it. But those who do are the ones who really benefit from it. 

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