Before we get going on this chapter we need to agree something together – whether your website appears as a shop window on a person’s ‘connected’ television set or it materializes as a mobile site enabled for a smartphone, or is just a simple old-fashioned homepage on a computer screen – it is still a shop window to your digital world and it is still a website. Later in the chapter you will read about developments in the world of ‘responsive web design’ and that is impacting the creation and evolution of sites, but now this is all we need to agree on: a website is increasingly EVERYWHERE and as long as you can access and acquire your products and services do we really need to get into semantics?
A conversion engine for traffic
All of the digital marketing techniques we discuss in the coming chapters have one thing in common: they are designed to drive targeted, pre-qualified traffic to your website. But traffic on its own does nothing but consume internet bandwidth: it is your website that converts that traffic into prospects and customers – taking the numbers and transforming them into something of tangible value to your business.
Building an effective website
An effective website is essentially about the convergence of two things: your business goals and the needs of your target market. Build something that aligns the two and you will end up with an effective website. Broken down like that it sounds simple, but achieving that convergence can be a tricky process and a quick surf around the web will soon demonstrate that it is easier to get it wrong than to get it right.
You’ll note we used the word effective, rather than successful. For a website to be successful people need to be able to find it (which we cover in the next chapter), but if you build your site to cater for the right people’s needs you significantly increase the chance that, once they arrive, they will become more than just a passing statistic.
Know why you are building a website
‘What is my website for?’ It’s a simple enough question, yet you might be amazed at how many businesses have never asked it. They have a website because everyone else has one and it seemed like a good idea at the time. The result is a site invariably an isolated little island in the backwaters of cyberspace – that brings nothing to the business but the expense of annual hosting Then Build Your Channel 47 and maintenance. Ideally you should have a clear idea of exactly what your organization wants to achieve from a website before you start to build it.
Know who your website is for
Knowing who exactly you are creating your website for is also crucial to its success. Yet, surprisingly, it is another thing that is often overlooked in the process. Far too many websites end up being designed to appeal to the committee of executives who ultimately sign off on the project, instead of the people who will actually be using them. Don’t fall into that trap. For your website to succeed it needs to appeal to one group of people, and one group of people only: your target market.