What a Successful Website Looks Like for a Community Business Owner
Websites can do anything these days, however just because a website can do anything and everything doesn’t always mean that you should get one that performs every type of function possible. Success from your website begins with deciding what success looks like for you and your business.
Having helped hundreds of community business owners through the website build process, it’s safe to say we’ve learned a thing or two about what sets our most successful clients up to stand out from the crowd as soon as they launch. We’re here to help you, so let’s jump into a bit of knowledge sharing.
Often setting up a website for your business starts with the realisation that you kind of just need one. After all - everyone else has one, you yourself use them every day, it’s just how things are these days. It’s how people find what they need, when they need it, and how they need it. Websites can do anything these days! (We’ve even found a website that will mail a raw potato to someone at your request. Yes, that exists.)
However, just because a website CAN do anything and everything, it doesn’t always mean that you should get one that can shoot lasers across the screen or send fireworks up on New Year’s Eve just because you can and you think it will make it great. Success from your website simply begins with deciding what that success looks like for you and your business.
For example: if you want to increase sales, then a website that can handle eCommerce from the start is key. Even better if it’s one that can integrate with your POS system and suppliers to keep product information up to date. (I had to throw a shameless plug in somewhere.) But what sort of products should you get online? Should you lower your prices to be competitive? How many products is the right number of products?
It's totally fine not to know these things straight away, however in order to set yourself up for success it pays to think about what that success will look like in 3, 6, and 12 months’ time. So, let’s walk through what that could look like, shall we?
1. The good old ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why and How?’ questions.
We love a good open-ended question as it forces us to think. The classic Five W’s and One H are a great place to start as you should be able to answer them quite easily. For example: let’s start with ‘Who?’. Who is the website representing? Well, that’s easy, it’s you and your business. Who is the website for? In theory this would be your customers but could also extend to other businesses you work with or even for future employees researching your workplace. Who is going to build the website? This one is a bit trickier and will depend a lot on the other answers. The main point is to do some thinking, do some research, then go with whoever can meet the brief best.
To give you somewhere to start from, here’s some other examples of questions to ask yourself:
- What do I want my website to look like or focus on? Do I have other websites as a reference?
- What is my point of difference that will make customers come to my website over choosing other businesses?
- Where will my website visitors come from? My community or further afield? Where do my customers spend their time online?
- When would I like my website live by? A website can take between 2 weeks and 12 months to build depending on the complexity and level of customisation, so take this into consideration when planning.
- Why does my business need a website? Is it to get more visibility online? To strengthen relationships with my community? To improve efficiency in the business?
- How would I like the website build to go? Am I able to dedicate some time to it, or will I need someone else in the business to oversee most of it?
2. The simple matter of ROI. Or, not so simple.
ROI (Return on Investment) is a discussion point we hear a lot in our business. And understandably too – after all, your website can be a reasonable investment, so you want to make sure you’re getting out at least what you put in. For an eCommerce site or any website that is able to take payments, this can be a simple equation. Does the money you get from the website each month at least match the money you’re paying to maintain the website? But if your website has more than just products for sale, such as information on the services you offer in store, it can be trickier to measure just how many people are finding that information on your website then coming in store and spending money to access that service. It can sometimes be best to look at the broader picture and create measurable targets based on your goals – for example, if your goal is to get basic information out there in order to reduce the number of non-urgent phone calls in the business, then start by recording just how many calls you get of that nature on a given day. That way, once the website is live, you have a clear benchmark to assess the success of the site against. A website’s ROI will differ for each business, as well as the amount of time it takes to reach that ‘break even’ point, so it definitely pays to define that criteria before pursuing your website project in order to properly define success.
3. You don’t need a village to raise a website, however it pays to at least have a plan.
Your website doesn’t need to be this giant beast that you need every man and his dog to help you wrangle it into behaving. In fact, that’s just not sustainable, and something we don’t recommend at all! When it comes to setting up your website, the amount of work that is involved from you during the build process will again vary, depending on who is managing your website and the level of functionality. You will generally be required, at minimum, to provide digital files of your business branding or photographs you want online, create Terms & Conditions, and attend a few appointments to discuss the look and feel of the website. So if your calendar is packed to the brim over the coming months and you can’t dedicate the time, don’t put the project on the backburner! Have a think about who else could help manage the workload in order to keep things moving. If you’re worried about marketing the website once it’s live, don’t stress; reach out to a local agency for help. Or check out our handy article on converting your in store shoppers to online ones. Once the website is live, who is responsible for updating it? Will small changes, such as changing your contact details or adding a new photo, be something you can manage yourself or will your developer charge you for it and make you wait 2-5 business days?
So, there you have it, a brief overview of how to define success from your website. As you can see, it can be quite the complex topic! But we hope that this serves as a great starting point to help you define your own sucess on the world wide web. So, get to brainstorming, formulate a plan, and we hope to see you online soon!
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