Many site owners make the mistake of building a website without laying out a clear plan for their online business. This is a sure set-up for failure. There are 1000s of abandoned sites on the web due to lack of careful planning. Before designing your website you should ask yourself some questions to avoid making mistakes down the road.
10 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Designing a Website
1. What Are Your Business Goals?
It's easy to say, "I want to make money," however, this is not a great motivator. Think of a deeper motivation that you feel passionate about e.g. "I want to have the financial freedom to spend more time with my kids as they are growing up."
2. What's the Purpose of Your Website?
This is the question most visitors will ask when accessing your website. Your home page must clearly explain the purpose and benefits of the products and/or services you are offering.
3. What Type of Products or Services Will You Sell?
Research the marketability of your products or services by doing keyword research. Use the Google Keyword Tool to find out how many searches your main keywords receive every month. If there are no searches, it means there is not much demand and therefore not worth marketing.
If it is a very competitive market (millions of searches per month), it may be difficult to stand out from your competitors and create a profitable online business.
4. How Many Products Will You Sell From Your Website?
This will determine how many pages your website will have. If you're only selling one product or service, you may only need 4 web pages e.g. Home, Product (or Services), About, Contact. If you're selling 100s of items, you will need a database driven site to store and manage all of them.
5. How Many Variables Does Your Product Have?
Variables may include size, color, type, sku#, shipping, tax? Make sure your shopping cart allows you to include these variables.
6. How Will You Accept Online Payments?
To accept bank card payments online, you will need a shopping cart, merchant account, payment gateway and SSL certificate for secure transactions. This means you will have monthly fees and processing fees every time a customer purchases something from your website.
A less expensive option for accepting payments online is the Paypal shopping cart. You don't need to purchase a separate merchant account, shopping cart, payment gateway and secure certificate. For a small processing fee it takes care of all this in one place.
7. Do You Have a Web Hosting Plan?
Your website needs to be hosted on a server for it to be available online. Select a hosting plan that has sufficient space for all your files and bandwidth to receive 1000s of visitors each month. Make sure you have the flexibility to upgrade your plan should you need more space and bandwidth.
8. Will You Need to Maintain the Website Yourself?
Asking this question before the design will determine what software your designer will use to build your website. If it only consists of a few web pages which don't need regular updating, then use software such as Dreamweaver to build it. It creates clean code and you will have only a few files.
If your website has 100s of pages, consider a content management system such as WordPress, Joomla or Zen Cart. They all enable 100s of items to be stored in a database. The website can be managed (add, edit, or delete items or pages) by logging into an administration area.
9. Do You Have a Marketing Plan?
To create a profitable online business you must create a plan to promote it. Some methods may include, search engine marketing, pay-per-click, article marketing, press releases, social media, video marketing, etc. Website campaigning needs to be done frequently and consistently to be effective.
10. How Will You Monitor Your Website Statistics?
Check if your web hosting plan includes site statistics (e.g. AW Stats). If not, create a Google Analytics account and insert the code on your web pages. It will track how many daily, weekly, monthly, yearly visitors you receive, where they are coming from and what keywords are being used to find your site in the search engines.
If you answer these 10 questions first, you'll avoid the pitfalls of designing and building a website and add to your potential of creating a profitable online business.