Internet for beginners All about Internet in the Philippines

 

 

Questions to consider when developing or upgrading your Web Site


By Rod Brooks <rod@abaconsulting.com.au>
  1. Where are you now (in terms of the Internet) and where do you want to be?
  2. What are the goals of the web site?
  3. Who is the target audience?
  4. What is happening in the marketplace?
  5. What is the content and how should it be organised?
  6. How are you going to maintain human relationships in the digital world?
  7. What do you want your site to look like?
  8. Where is the site to be hosted?
  9. How is the site to be updated?
  10. How are you going to drive traffic to your site?
  11. What are the success criteria for your site?
  12. Will any marketing strategies, business processes or systems need to be modified to fit in with your Internet strategy?

Too many companies have put up a web site without a clear Internet strategy. In some cases the web site was created in response to a competitor having a web site. In other cases there simply was a vague belief that these days you must have a web site. It is no surprise then that many companies are disappointed with the results.

To maximise your Internet success, you need to develop a clear Internet strategy as an integral part of your overall business plan before you spend any more money on your web site. And to help you do this here are twelve questions you should consider:

  1. Where are you now (in terms of the Internet) and where do you want to be?

    If you don't know where you are going, then any path will get you there.

    Your web site should be an integral part of your business plan. If it is not then it is much more likely to fail or at least not achieve its potential. So before rushing off to a web developer and creating a pretty web site, think about answering these questions. And don't be frightened to ask for some independent expert advice. Not many web developers are good marketing strategists and you should get your strategy right before you spend any money on development.

    Remember that development costs are often only 40-50% of the total costs. Maintenance can be 40% of your web costs, with promotion of your site being up to 20% of costs.

    Many people find that a planned phased approach allows you to identify where you want to go and develop checkpoints to assess your progress along the way. You don't need, or it may not be appropriate, or you may not be able to afford to put your ideal web site up at the beginning. But you do need a plan as to what you want to do, when you should publish each new version of your site, and how you are going to monitor your progress along the Internet path.
     

  2. What are the goals of the web site?

    Firstly you need to determine what you want your web site to do.

    Is the purpose of your site to inform, educate, entertain or sell? Is it supposed to enhance brand equity, lower costs or improve customer intimacy? What transactions are appropriate or necessary, and when should they be part of your web site. How important is it to provide a personalised experience? What is the user's expected benefit or response?
     

  3. Who is the target audience?

    Now that you have decided what you want your site to do, you need to determine who will be the users of your site. (Sometimes identifying the goals and target audience needs to be done at the same time). And there can be more than one target audience.

    What categorises your target audience, what are their needs, and can you develop scenarios for them?
     

  4. What is happening in the marketplace?

    You should not create your Internet strategy in a vacuum. What are your competitors doing? What are the relevant industry and technological trends? Can you identify best practice sites for benchmarking?
     

  5. What is the content and how should it be organised?

    Now you can consider what types of content you want on the site and what level of detail will be presented. What functions should people be able to perform on your site? How should the information be structured and what global and local navigation aids are you going to have?

    Your web developer may be able to help you with structure and navigation but you must have a big input, as you will know your business and your customers better than the web developer.
     

  6. How are you going to maintain human relationships in the digital world?

    The Internet can appear to be a very impersonal medium for conducting business. So you need to make sure you consider how you are going to create, maintain and enhance customer relationships on-line.

    Therefore, think about how e-mail, chat rooms, discussion groups, on-line communities and even information can be used. Do you have an e-mail response policy to ensure appropriate responses to all e-mail?
     

  7. What do you want your site to look like?

    Now, and only now, should you consider what your site should look like. Users should know where they are on the site, where they have been, and how to get to where they want to be.

    Therefore, consider issues such as colour, branding, design and links. What is your policy on the appropriateness of links? Who monitors links?
     

  8. Where is the site to be hosted?

    Are you going to host it yourself or host it on an ISP? Do you have the resources (especially ongoing resources) to host it yourself? What services do you want your ISP to be able to provide? And remember that your ISP does not have to be local. There is little difference for most people in uploading files to an ISP in your city or one in another country.
     

  9. How is the site to be updated?

    Remember that 30-40% of your site costs may be incurred by site maintenance.

    How often should content be changed? Who is going to make the changes? Who is going to approve the changes? How are the content, software and hardware going to be upgraded? How are you going to check for dead or broken links?
     

  10. How are you going to drive traffic to your site?

    It is no good having the best site in the world if no one knows about it. Some sites are spending up to 20% (and more) of their budget promoting their site.

    Options are many and include considering possible points of entry, banner ads, keyword ads, PR, links, offline promotion, search engine registration, articles in e-zines, and event or content sponsorship. Many people get expert advice on how to promote web sites.
     

  11. What are the success criteria for your site?

    Too many people simply put up their site and sometime down the track wonder if their site is working or not. If you have not determined how you are going to measure the success of your site in advance then it can be difficult to be objective. Many people these days do not believe that you can rely on hits alone as your only success measure.

    So it is best to decide prior to the site going live how you will know if your site is achieving your goals. This will require a mixture of criteria which could include some of the following: page views, unique users, time spent on the site, return visits, revenue, and reduced costs.

    However, it should also include measurable business criteria that are critical to your business objectives. For example, number of new customers, improved customer retention, quicker new product development, better coordination between business partners, and enhanced customer intimacy.
     

  12. Will any marketing strategies, business processes or systems need to be modified to fit in with your Internet strategy?

    Some organisations will need to transform their business in order to thrive with the Internet.

    Do you need to consider the impact on your organisational structure or functions, your distribution channels, or your product range? Are there any back-end databases or information that should be shared with suppliers or customers?

    In many companies these changes may not be appropriate yet, but if you neglect to keep up with the rapidly evolving circumstances wrought by the Internet then you are at real risk of being outwitted by a new or existing competitor, or missing out on new opportunities.

    So to maximise your Internet success, develop a clear Internet strategy as an integral part of your overall business plan before you spend any more money on your web site. Time and money spent on developing your strategy will be well and truly rewarded!
     

 


Articles in WIRED! Philippines are copyrighted by the authors.
WIRED! Philippines is a monthly online magazine published and hosted by KabayanCentral.com
Copyright 1999 KabayanCentral.com. All rights reserved.