You've put careful thought into developing a clear and specific focus for your Web site, and you have a good idea about the audience you want to attract. Now it's time to decide exactly what information to include.

Begin this phase of planning from the visitor's point of view. A common failing of Web sites is to select content based on what you, the site publisher, want your customers to know about you. Photos of company officers may seem important to you, but does a visitor really want to see that first? What the customer wants to know may be very different from what you would like to tell them.

Query Your Staff
Your sales staff can be helpful with this phase. Ask them:

  • What are the first questions customers commonly ask?
  • What other questions are most frequently asked?
  • What kinds of concerns or fears do customers have about the product or service we sell (e.g., quality, repair history, support, price, etc.)?
  • In what ways do customers often misperceive or misunderstand our product or service?

Ask Your Customers Directly
Existing customers may also be invaluable sources of suggestions for site content. What were the deciding factors that led them to select your company's products or services rather than your competitors'? What do they feel is the most important thing others should know about what you do? What would they most like to be able to do through your Web site: place an order, look up operating instructions, make an appointment, search for products, see photos of your manufacturing process?

Finally, look for opportunities to ask prospective customers what they would hope to find on a Web site for a company like yours. The answers are often surprising and provide valuable information.

Parlay the Information You've Gathered into an FAQ
Once you've gathered the information from your staff and customers, you can assemble a list of FAQs (frequently asked questions). If people can find answers to their questions online, they'll likely be ready to buy as soon as they call. This may allow your sales staff to handle more customers in a day, so you can reduce your costs while making customer needs the priority.

In short, find out what viewers want and need from you, and give it to them. Make it quick and easy for them to find or do exactly what they want. If you do, they might even stick around long enough to look at your mug shot on the "About Us" page!

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