Monday, July 13, 2009

Can Anybody Build A Website? It Ain't Brain Surgery

It costs money to have a full-featured website built by a pricey digital design company on the 40th floor – the whole 40th floor. Somebody’s paying for all that flash. You. That’s why these pros from Dover want $20K for a website you could build – if you only had the time.

At the outset of any start up, it’s all outgo and no income. However, some new site owners have big plans and small budgets. They know where they want to go. They just need the capital, a little time and a bit of luck to make that dream an online reality.

So, you don't have, or don’t want to spend, an entire year’s marketing budget on some hot shot site design. Okay, no problem.

But are you going to wait until you’ve got all site features in place before launch? Probably not and there’s no reason to. Your ideal site can become your vision over several generations, with each generation adding new features, greater functionality, more products and services and an optimized home page.

If you’re into your sixth month of beta testing your new site and you still haven’t launched, you need to call a meeting of the board of directors (who may be you and your spouse if you’re a start-up) and kick-start this enterprise.

Keep Your Vision Clear

Even though you don’t have the scratch for every bell and whistle you’d like, plan for those additions right from the site. Develop a generational website map showing how all of the pieces fit together.

Take it a step further. Develop overlays of phase one, two, three, four and so on to see the evolution of the site – from bare bones to nicely optimized and, holy cow! – profitable. (Oh, they laughed at you but who’s laughing now?)

If you design the site as a completed, interactive concept on paper, you can begin phase one knowing that phases two, three and so on will fit your ultimate model.

Determine Your Priorities

If your’s is a retail site then a secure checkout, product pictures and complete product descriptions are tops on your to-do list. If you’re using templates to build your site (they make things nearly idiot-proof), you can construct product pages with nice pictures in no time.

So, your bare-bones basics website with products and pictures is up, along with a secure checkout, your SSL certification and a couple of trust-building logos on the first page in the checkout sequence.

You’re database is collecting client data, you’re seeing some traffic from PPC and links advertising and, all-in-all, things look good.

Second Generation Websites

They build on the foundation already in place. You’re now in a position to add some basic features to make the site more friendly and useful. You can add a site search feature to make it easier to find specific products, add a “Recommend Us to a Friend” link to stir the viral marketing stewpot, expand your product offerings and maybe even show products from different angles if it’s useful in making the sale.

Third, Forth and Fifth Generation Websites

Websites are always a work in progress. Want to have some fun? Go to, enter a site URL and, in the lower left corner of that site’s rankings is the Time Machine that takes you back to different iterations of the same sites.

So, you can see the first generation, second generation and so on until you see the current site. The point is, websites are redesigned all of the time. So, if you’re waiting to dot all of those ‘i’s and cross all those ‘t’s, your going to be late for the party.

So, get the site up and running, hook up your product pages, secure checkout and data base, then gradually add design elements, features, new products, a blog, today’s specials, RSS feeds and on and on and on.

Don’t wait. The countdown to launch has begun.

No comments: