Over the holidays, an old college friend of mine met with his well-accomplished father about his father’s next professional phase. He is exploring a full-time consultancy business after spending many successful years in the private sector. And now he needs a website.
While his father’s skill set and knowledge are by no means budding, there is a lot of newness to his venture. For one, he hasn’t run his own business without a built-in brand and marketing team to support him.
Thus, my friend reached out to me befuddled, not knowing where to start planning a website that showcases his father’s new consultancy venture while highlighting his business sense and vast experiences.
To kickstart their planning efforts, I sent him this grounded and handy checklist, the 8 Essential Components for Planning a Grounded and Professional Website.
Start by listing the types of visitors you expect will view your site. Organize them by potential customer type, gender, age, location, income or any other relevant demographics. Next, list what each group would expect to see on a site like yours, including any actions they would want to take. The most successful business websites cater to their audience first and foremost. Knowing your potential site visitors determines not only what content belongs on the site, but also how it should be designed.
What were your most challenging and satisfying projects? Can you find old emails of what your clients said about you and your work, and how you helped them? Keep these in a file to understand the language they used to explain your successes. They may also serve as a basis for your site’s future content.
First, compile a list of “peer sites”. These are sites by other professionals who are doing what you say you’re going to do. If you don’t know of any peer experts, use a search engine (like Google.com or Bing.com) to explore the keywords you’d expect people to use to find you. Make note of what you like and don’t like about each of these sites in terms of content, style and features. Next, make a list of “inspirational sites,” even if they’re outside of your business genre. These sites are ones that use colors, styles, layouts and features you’d like to mimic and help you better understand the vibe you’d like your site to have.
Now that you’ve reviewed possible peers, write down what makes you stand out from the crowd. What personality traits, experiences and skill sets make you unique? Consider asking your past clients what made working with you a successful and worthwhile experience, as well as those with whom you have previously worked in a team or office setting.
Every site is selling something, whether or not they have ecommerce buttons for online purchases. Consider: Will your site sell services, like coaching and consulting? How about products, such as books or clothing? Or, will your site have informational-based offerings, like blog posts and resources that highlight your skill sets, talents and expertise? Make a list of all types of services, products and offerings your site could offer.
Don’t keep your business mission in your head; write it down. Start with a bulleted list of what you’re offering and connect these to your potential customer segments. Consider using one of these statements as you refine the statement. Then, hang it up on your office wall and make it official.
YOUR BUSINESS NAME provides LIST OF PRODUCT/SERVICES to TARGET AUDIENCE.
YOUR BUSINESS NAME stands for COMPANY VALUES and will conduct business according to THESE VALUES.
Establish an official company or site name along with some possible taglines so others can know what you do at quick glance. Consider having a logo created (we love LogoTournament.com for unique yet cost-conscious creations with a rapid turnaround), or at least designate fonts and colors for your brand. And, if you don’t have a recent, professional headshot of your and your team, be prepared to get one.
Do you have an established professional presence on social media channels like LinkedIn or Twitter? Do you have a business-related blog? How about a resume or business card? Be sure to have these on hand to integrate with your new website’s message and core design.
Finished your checklist? You should feel empowered, clear-headed and grounded as you’re well on your way toward creating the website you and your business deserves. Our team has the tools to help you further define, design, develop and drive your website. Get started now
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