Building a profitable Web site can seem like a truly daunting task. Whether you are building a simple 5 page site or a complex site with forms or e-commerce, there are 10 essential things every business owner should plan for.
In the next 3 posts, we'll break down the 10 essential elements of a Web site plan, and pinpoint the fundamental decision you'll need to make based on your goals and your resources. The direction you choose to take for each of these 10 essentials will form the foundation for your Web site and enable you to move on to getting your Web site done with the confidence that you have the right plan in place.
Let us know in the comments which way you chose and other fundamental decisions you've faced in your Web site projects and how you resolved them.
1. Build or buy? – The biggest first question is will you build it yourself or are you going to hire someone? All of the other 9 steps depend on this.
The decision boils down to: Do you have 30-40 hours you will likely spend building a Web site yourself? Does your site require complex tools and features not available from DIY tools? Do you have at least $1,500-$15,000 to hire someone reputable? Decide this first, then move on to the rest of your planning … Also stay tuned for my list of DIY tools and let me know if you wish to be notified about upcoming blog posts.
2. Domain Name – Businesses often make mistakes with their domain name. Because it's so difficult to find one, often words are added to the name like "mybusinessonline.com." Instead of just adding words, strongly consider changing your company name based on the domain names that are available. Consider the alternative – if your company is Acme Corp. and your competitor already has acmecorp.com, all the time and money you spend marketing Acme Corp is sending traffic to your competitor's Web site.
The decision: Choose a company name according to available domain names (including altering an existing company name now if it's still young)? Or stick with a name that is already taken but also live with the knowledge that you will be marketing someone else's Web site?
3. Logo – Do you have one? If so, your Web site design should match your logo in color and style. If you don't have a logo yet, get one! It doesn't have to be overly fancy or even have an image – text logos are perfectly professional and usually less expensive.
The decision: Consider your budget. By all means, avoid using clip art for your logo. Try logoyes.com or logoworks.com for easy, inexpensive logos! Alternately, hire a logo designer who will typically cost from $750-$15,000 for small to medium-sized businesses.
That should get you started on the first essential elements of your 3-hour Web site plan. Next time we'll discuss the fundamental decisions involved in design, structure and content.
In the mean time – get working and tell us what kinds of challenges you've faced with your domain name, logo and the build or buy decision.