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Do have a marketing budget for your website. Launching a website without a marketing plan usually always results in a zero return-on-investment. Why? Because there are millions of sites on internet, and if you donít market your site, no one will come. Unlike a typical brick-and-mortar establishment that benefits from exposure to passersby, your website will not be seen by anyone until you tell people that it exists. Take advantage of fact that your website can reach more potential customers than a small storefront ever could. Set aside marketing funds at onset of your project.
Do prepare a timeline for project. Many developers work virtually, that is, directly through internet such that you may never meet them in person. This style of work is very different than conventional, and lack of face-to-face contact makes it easy for both parties to simply forget about project as time goes on. Ensure that your project wonít stagnate. Prepare a solid timeline with clear milestones, expectations, and deadlines so that it is easy for both you and developer to stay on target.
Do provide feedback in a timely and detailed manner. Although you are paying a design firm for its creativity, remember that ultimately what you say goes. You must be sensitive of fact that development is a step-by-step, layer-by-layer process. If you donít respond with feedback immediately, developers will have already completed other layers of site before your feedback reaches them. This means that they must not only re-work layer in question, but also following layers. Some developers have been ďburnedĒ so many times in this manner that they will wait patiently for your feedback before they go on to next layer of work. This means that development comes to a screeching halt until they hear back from you. They may get so fed up that they take on another client while they wait, leaving you at 2nd priority.
Do research developers before setting a budget. There are two reasons to do your homework before you decide on a budget. First, setting a budget without understanding a particular industry is simply nonsensical. You must know price ranges of development and also what type of service to expect within each range. Second, a small business website, unlike a typical personal expense, is an investment. The goal of launching site should be to aid company in making more money. If site wonít make money, donít create it! If you limit your budget at $1000 without understanding investment or industry, you may get an excellent site in that price range that makes no money. You would be better off if you do your homework, however, and find that spending more will likely yield a return. For example, you might spend $4000 on a site that actually makes you and additional $20,000 annually.
Do plan to keep your site up-to-date. One of biggest advantages to having a website is that you can quickly and easily update information. Nothing sends a more powerful message to a potential customer than a website that hasnít been updated for several months, or even years! You are telling people that business is defunct or unpopular. Make it a point to update your site frequently, even if you donít have much to say. It will let your customers know that things are going well and that your company takes an active interest in keeping them informed.
Although above Dos and Doníts are definitely not comprehensive, they are a good set of guiding principles for any individual or small business owner looking to create an online presence. No set of rules if foolproof, however, and there are always exceptions. My suggestion would be to always err on side of caution. Many of clichť statements weíve all heard will come in handy: there is no such thing as a free lunch, and, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Finally, donít be afraid to ask questions to people who know more than you. In fact, feel free to contact me if you ever get into a jam: firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck!
Adil Wali is Chief Operating Officer of SteeZo Media, a company founded in 1999 that focuses on consulting small and medium sized businesses in their efforts to create or revamp an on-line presence. Under Adilís leadership, the company shifted away from broad-based IT consulting to a more specific focus on matching clients with the most capable and cost effective developers. SteeZo Media also manages web development projects on behalf of clients.