What do you have a website for?

What is the first thing that you do when you want to find someone who does or sells something you need?

For instance, when you need to find a plumber for the first time? Or a mechanic or to find a B & B or hotel or to see what’s on at the cinema?

We look online. We expect businesses to have a website.

So it makes sense that when you start a business one of the first things that comes to mind is “I need a website”. The need is there, unfortunately this leads many people to rush their website set up process.

That’s an interesting phrase ‘website setup process’. When I said that did you think technology? Or graphics and colours and styles? Many people do.

Often what gets rushed – or even missed out completely is the thinking time and the planning time where you consider what your website is for (and who it is for and why they are going to your website) before you even start to think about anything else, least of all colourschemes.

It’s easy to skip this step because it’s not visible, it’s somewhat intangible. But when someone has taken the time to do this the benefits to their website in the end are highly tangible.

The end result of starting off by identifying goals, is a website which makes sense to the visitors, where they can easily find what they came for. In some instances that what they are looking for is even there at all – have you encountered the website of a restaurant you would like to try and it doesn’t have its opening times – I have.

So what can you do? Answer these questions:

  • What do I want a website for?
    • Is it to show people that you/your business exists, what it does and how to contact you? (known as a brochure site because it does a similar job to a paper based leaflet or brochure)
    • Is it to engage with people, to have conversations with them, to gather a following?
    • Is it to sell things to people, directly?
    • Something else that I haven’t listed… a combination of the above?

The answers to these questions will give you a starting point for making future choices.

For instance, if you know that you only want or need a brochure site you can look for hosting provision which doesn’t have masses of space.

If you decide that you want to sell to people you can look at e-commerce platforms (e.g. existing services like Etsy or Amazon or doing it yourself using WordPress e-commerce plugins).

If you decide that you want to engage and have a conversation you can look at blogging or email list building.

Do you see that I haven’t mentioned colourschemes yet? They come a lot further down the line – they don’t even come next.

Once you have identified your own goals, the next thing is to consider your site visitors – who they are and what they are trying to achieve.

But the first step, as Simon Sinek tells us, is to start with why.

So – why do you have a website?