24

Aug

2011

The Comphrensive Guide to Planning a Website – Part I

This article is first in the 3-part series The Comprehensive Guide to Planning a Website – created for prospective clients who are interested in developing an online presence for their pet business, but aren’t quite sure the planning or protocol that goes into developing one. In doing so, I hope to address some common concerns or questions that may be floating around in your head.  Creating a website can sometimes be a massive undertaking, and the result of producing this guide is so the client has a better understanding of common procedures that should be addressed before the concepting phase even begins.

Planning for a Website

In today’s world, phone books are becoming a thing of the past. Everyone is expected to atleast have a basic website containing general contact information and a description of their service or product. Before we commit pen to paper, you should first ask yourself why you need a website. To start, write down a few reasons why you think you need a website:

  • Do your customers ask you if you have a website?
  • Do you sell products or services that they might want to inquire on first before hiring you or making a purchase?
  • Is your pet business brand new and in need of marketing?

These are some common reasons why a business may need a website. They may seem unimportant, but actually provide a web design studio critical information in positioning your brand the best way possible.

Showcasing your services

A website is a great way to showcase your knowledge and expertise in the pet industry. It’s where potential customers go when they don’t have time to visit each individual store. With so much information available online, it makes choosing between businesses that much easier. In this scenario, your business may not even be considered if it can’t be accessed on the web.

Thinking about a Redesign?

With the influx of new technology inundated in our lives it’s hard to keep up. Your pet website might have been all the rage back in 2007, but how does it hold up today? Designing a website that allows for flexibility and change is key. Most small businesses don’t have the budget to update their websites every two years, but a small budget should be set aside for updates and redesign projects.

Common Reasons for a Redesign

  • Our pet business wants to integrate a blog onto our site
  • The design is outdated and doesn’t match our branding strategy
  • Our website doesn’t account for new media such as social networks
  • We want a way for our website to do ‘x’ for our customers and our technology doesn’t allow for it.

To read more about the redesign process, read our post How to Approach A Pet Website Redesign.

What are your Goals?

It’s pivotal you know what you’re trying to accomplish with your website. Are you trying to acquire new customers? Are you trying to give your current customers reason to stay with you over the competition? Do you need a contact form to make it easier for your customers to give you specific information when contacting you? Are you looking to start selling your products online?

As mentioned before, establishing your goals is necessary in the design process. It allows us as designers to solve problems and offer you more solutions. If you don’t know your problems the process can become more cumbersome.

Design Briefs

At Atticus Pet Design Studio we will issue you a design brief pertaining to the work you want done before the project starts. This brief contains questions about your project needs. You should discuss your target market, brand, likes and dislikes (if you already have a website), your competitors & their websites (if applicable) and more.

Know Your Target Market

To effectively reach your market, we must understand who your target market is. Your target market describes every aspect about your customers. Here are a few things you should know about your audience:

  1. Age Range & Gender
  2. Location
  3. Education Level
  4. Income Range
  5. Lifestyle (what does your customers like to do?)
  6. Household Size
  7. Stage in Life (is their family just forming or are the kids moving out?)
  8. Values (family, career driven, travelers, etc)

Budget & Considerations

As much as you hate to think about it, websites do cost money. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of making a website that will often contribute to the overall cost of producing it. For instance your website should be functional and appeal to your target audience rather than being purely ‘eye candy.’ You also must be able to use and manage it effectively. In summary, the process of creating a functional pet website that caters to your prospects can’t be done in a day.

The best way to budget for a website is to talk to a professional and have them give you a quote.

Items to Consider:

  1. Web Design
  2. Web Development
  3. Photography
  4. Illustration
  5. Content & Writers
  6. Video
  7. Blogging Cost
  8. Maintenance & Updates

If you’re working with a small budget, what are some essentials you must have in running your business properly? The more functionality you’re looking for, the more it will cost. The more advanced the design elements are, the more time to build, etc. In establishing a budget first, we’re able to pick and choose the features that are absolutely necessary in doing business and remain within your budget as much as possible.

In the next stage of this series I will cover topics such as working with a deadline, putting a team together, and the benefits of small design studios vs. in-house.

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