Yup, you need a website.
When was the last time someone called you and asked you to send them a brochure? Or better yet, when was the last time someone called you? 1995, right? These days folks are going to look for you on Google and then check your site to see what you have to offer.
You need what communicators call "a online presence." Today most established businesses do, and the startups know enough to be working on one. Once you do have a site, it 1) needs to be found, and 2) needs to get the job done.
Ways you can have a online presence:
The obvious. But they can take different forms. Here's how we break it down:
"Brochure-ware"—this site just exists to prove that you are legit. Don't expect much new content or interaction, basically just functions as validation for your business.
Interactive—this site is trying to get visitors to do something: inform, create community,or turn visitors into customers (but not yet e-commerce). These can be B2C (business to consumer) or B2B (business to business), so expect fresh content and ways to interact.
Ecomm—the online store. So expect catalog pages, product details, shopping carts, and checkout. These are a little trickier to get off the ground, needing a heftier administration area, credit card payments, return policies, and security.
Web Applications and Services
These are basically software-on-the-Web. Take your online banking, for example: a typical website on the front end, but then a login to your personal dashboard and typical banking tasks you used to go to a teller for. Web apps cover the gamut: blogging, social media, membership, subscription content, trip planning, invitations, surveys, email, and so on.
Landing page—a one pager linked to by another website, email blast, web ad, or blog. Usually a "info-mercial" with a call to action
Blog—lots organizations and individuals who are providing rich content, skip the formal website and just organize and post their content in blog format. Blogs tend to be more timely and editorial in focus, often opinion or very focused subject matter.
Social media—none of the above, but an increasingly important online presence. This is way big brands still have Twitter and Facebook accounts—it's a must these days.
The Combo Plate
Lots of websites have blogs, social media pages, and even a membership area. It comes down to who your audience is and how they might connect with you.
Ours is like any creative process, with some geeky stuff thrown in. So, let's get your branding, your message, and your purpose figured out before we do anything. Then let's talk it though, draw some boxes and arrows on a white board, assign some homework, and dig in.
Things you can be thinking about
Branding—is branding house in order?
Content—where is all that content (words, pictures, diagrams) going to come from?
Purpose—what do we want our visitors to do in the end?
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