It seems like just about
every business out there is putting up a Web site these days. If you haven't
got one yet, or if you've already got one and aren't really satisfied with it,
then you should take a look at the five basic steps that it takes to put a great
Web site up.
Here they are:
- DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS
- DESIGN THE SITE
- DEVELOP THE SITE
- GO PUBLIC AND DEPLOY
- DO IT OVER - CONTINUOUSLY
UPDATE AND IMPROVE YOUR SITE
1. BEGIN WITH A SOLID
There's so much hype about
the World Wide Web now, that many companies are setting up Web sites simply
because they think they should. That's really ineffective. To be most effective
you should have an idea of what you want to accomplish with your Web site, and
what business purpose it should serve.
The only reason you want
to put up a Web site for your business is because it helps you meet a strategic
objective. It should either help you increase revenue, or decrease expenses,
or make your other operations more effective or do some combination of those
In the research Wally Bock
and I conducted when we wrote our most recent book, "CyberPower: How To Profit
From The Information Superhighway," we identified six basic ways that people
reach those strategic objectives. We found six basic models that people are
using on the Net to increase their profits.
Briefly, the six models
- Direct Sales
- Net-Related Services
- Cost Cutting
- Enhancing Other Operations
They all cover practical
ways that businesses are improving revenue or decreasing expenses and we found
most effective businesses don't use just one, but use them in combination for
You should define your business
objective in terms of what you want to accomplish, increasing revenue, decreasing
expenses, or enhancing other operations and in terms of one of these six basic
During this step you most
likely conduct the following actions:
[A] Select and Form Your
Core Internet Task Force Team to create a Master Internet/Web Implementation
Action Plan Project:
- Select people that are
key opinion leaders and or your businesses visionaries
- Select high level decision
makers and leaders who have the power to make things happen in your business
- Include a representative
from each the primary functional areas of your business (for example some
one who is part of your businesses primary functional areas - Marketing, Sales,
Advertising & PR, Production & Quality Assurance, Product Development, Distribution
& Customer Service and Administration & Finance)
- Don't forget to include
both your technical experts and your financial experts on this team
[B] Set up your organization's
Strategic Focus (existing purpose or mission) and introduce your Internet Task
Force Team to how you could use the Internet as a strategic and tactical tool
to enhance the ability of your organization to achieve it's mission.
- What business are you
- What do you want to
use the Internet tools to achieve?
- What are the benefits
and potential ROI offered the business for using the Internet tools?
Possibly prepare a brief
business proposal with a solid analysis of what kind of online activities your
competition and peers are doing, some specific applications and solutions you
can see using the Internet technology offers your business and a detailed report
on the potential "Return On Investment" and benefits you can see developing
and implementing a Master Internet Action Plan will offer your business to introduce
the members of your Internet Task Force Team to the compelling reasons for participating
in a project of this nature.
[C] Assign "Internet Awareness
Building" Project Preparation Actions. Have everyone on the Internet Task Force
- Get connected to the
Web (we recommend the Netscape browser for this) and spend time browsing the
Web just to become familiar with the nature of the Internet Technology
- Research and study similar
and competitive business sites online
- Read Internet magazines,
trade journals and periodicals for what's happening and what's working in
the online world
- Subscribe, attend and
lurk in industry related mailing lists, newsgroups and forums
[D] Use your Internet Task
Force Team to brainstorm, develop and define your businesses Web/Internet Presence
Vision, Goals and Objectives.
Now once you've done that,
you're ready to move on to the next step.
2. DESIGN THE SITE
Once you've decided on your
objective, it's time to do a basic site design. This isn't writing the code
for the pages, it's determining what information and other factors are going
to be there and how they're going to be linked. The power of the Web is its
links. Done properly, a good Web site can help people move through information
in a way that's natural, comfortable, and effective. For that to happen, you've
got to spend some time defining how that information will work and what information
will be linked.
This is where you should
consider four things: the tools available; models of sites you like; how your
customers, prospects, and friends will come to you; and what are your target
marketplace needs. There's no particular order to address these in. In fact,
we found that very often people touch each of these bases more than once as
they go through the process of site design.
When you're thinking about
tools, pick tools that work with the strength of the medium. Consider Web links,
mailing lists, information sharing methods, forms, surveys, and other things
that we've talked about in this book.
Spend some time looking
at other sites to determine what kinds of things you like. That way you'll be
able to direct a site designer to things that you think are excellent and help
the designer get inside your head.
Design your site from the
outside in. Ask yourself, "What do people look for when they come to us?" What
kinds of questions do they often ask us first on the telephone? What are the
most common questions that prospects ask our sales people?
As you answer each of these
questions, consider what information is necessary to help your customer or client
at that point and how you can help them move toward a decision to become involved
Design your site from the
inside out as well. Think about who you are and what you do, and what your products
and services are. What features do they have? What benefits do they provide?
We've found mind mapping
can be an especially powerful tool for both of the above analysis functions.
With mind mapping you connect concepts and ideas on paper in the same way that
you do in your head. Try picking up a book like Joyce Wycoff's book Mind Mapping
or Tony Buzan's book Making the Most of your Mind for details on this tool.
We've also found one particular
piece of software to be very helpful at this point because it handles mind mapping
and can give you a visual demonstration of links. That software is called Inspiration.
Inspiration is available for both Macs and PCs through standard software channels.
If you do your analysis
rigorously on your site design, there will come a point when all of your analysis,
tools, models, inside/out, and outside/in come together and you have a clear
idea of what your site will be. At this point, you should have a picture of
the kind of site you want to have with a diagram of the links.
3. DEVELOP THE SITE
Begin your site development
by developing a mock site. A mock site is a Web site that you develop on your
own computer, not on the Net. That let's you work out the information, links,
proofreading, and other issues before you take it live.
When you've developed a
good site on your own computer, put it on the Web for a Beta test. At this point
you won't be public with your site, you're just putting it out there to see
how things work in the real environment and buying some time to do some other
things relative to your site announcement.
With your site out there
on the Web, test it with a number of browsers. Be sure to include Netscape,
browsers from the commercial gateways, and several versions of Mosaic. Check
out your site at various times of the day and night. Pay special attention to
how fast things load, how easy things are to use, and whether your links work
While you're testing the
site, get ready for prime time. Modify your printed materials so that your URL
appears on your brochures, business cards, in your advertisements, and any other
materials. Get your people up to speed, especially your customer service and
sales folks who may get questions about the Web site.
And, prepare your roll out
plan. That includes registering your site with all of the appropriate search
engines and making sure that you know how you're going to introduce your new
tool to your clients, prospects, and friends.
In summary these actions
you take in this step are:
- Holding a company wide
- Recommend and select
key personnel for specific implementation tasks
- Establish the main communication
methodologies for communication and updates regarding the progress of the
Master Internet Action Plan
- Pinpoint areas that
- Check implementation
- Track results by conducting
internal and external customer feedback survey's, increase in e-mail, number
of customer registrations, mentions within newsgroups and/or mailing lists
and reporting any other success stories and bottom line success achieved by
the businesses use of the Internet.
4. GO PUBLIC
Once your site and materials
are ready, it's time to go public. Don't make this move until your printed material
is ready and people can find you on the Web's search utilities.
Issue a news release to
your trade press about your new Web site and send copies of that release to
your entire customer and prospect base.
Have your sales force use
the new Web site as a reason to make a call. They can introduce the Web site
by showing it to purchasing agents and others who might be interested in gathering
information from it on their computer in their own office. Then, have them ask
if they can add your Web site to the purchasing agent's hot list or bookmark
You should be preparing
your deployment steps almost from the beginning of the time that you start designing
your site. As soon as you have your URL, be sure to register your site with
all of the popular search utilities. Look at your site design and consider registering
all of the pages that are likely to be primary contact points for your customers,
prospects, and friends. Don't just register the page with your basic corporate
information, what many people call the "home page."
At this point your site
should be well tested, well publicized, and working for you. But the job's not
5. UPDATE AND IMPROVE
This is such a fast changing
and developing area of business that you're going to want to stay on top of
Begin by checking out lots
of sites as part of your daily routine. Have your other key executives do the
same thing. When you find things you like, make notes and add them to your hot
list files so you can show them to the person responsible for your Web site
Consider regular updates
to your site and make sure that the most recent update date appears on the site
Watch for times when you'll
want to redesign the site. We've found with many of our clients that they'll
want to redesign the site after it's been up for 3 or 4 months. By then you
too will have a clear idea of who's using your site and why and when.
When you're ready to change
it's time to go back to step one again. Look at your business objectives; decide
how you're going to measure your achievement and work through the process again.
This time it will go faster.
The process of putting up
a great Web site is fairly simple. But there are lots of little steps and you
do need to pay attention.
- Start with a solid
- Design the site based
on how people will use it and how they will link information in their head.
Use both outside-in and inside-out methods and develop a graphical site plan.
- Develop the site
using the best design methods you have available.
- Make sure that your
site is well publicized, especially among your primary audience.
- And, constantly redesign,
update, and modify your site to make it more effective.