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Researching website features now = big savings later

Craig Reardon /

It’s a new year and chances are you are considering ways of improving your business for 2013.

And at the top of most 2013 business wish lists is improving the way your business leverages the behemoth that is the digital world.

Despite what you may hear, professional websites are still the most important digital asset a business can have, so ensuring yours is as professional and multifunctional as possible is still of critical importance.

Beyond good website design

Many think of a website refresh as simply updating the appearance or ‘look and feel’ of the website, which is not an invalid goal.

But nowadays your website has to do a whole lot more than simply look good.

These days, website objectives often include many of the following:

  • Adapt well to smartphones and tablets
  • Complete an online order or enquiry
  • Allow customers to complete a sale online
  • Attract sign-ups to email lists and social networks
  • Improve productivity by answering customer queries online
  • Rank highly on search engines
  • Integrate with financial and CRM systems
  • Allow the easy addition of new and regular content

And many others.

Inadequate briefs

Unfortunately most smaller business wish lists are far less comprehensive, often making do with simply ‘looking good’ and ‘rank higher than our competitors within search engines’.

Apart from not utilising the considerable marketing and productivity gains that a longer list of objectives will provide your business, there is a very good second reason to spend time on a long list of objectives before you have a website created.

And that is this:

The fewer objectives you set for your website now, the greater the cost of accommodating new ones in future.

In other words, by not specifying your future requirements now, you are not setting up your website to easily incorporate them in future. And this can lead to thousands of dollars in development or configuration costs that can be avoided with a little extra research and planning.

Now these requirements don’t have to be utilised immediately. Correctly established, you can ‘switch on’ these features for no or low cost when you are ready to do so.

But only if you have allowed for this ‘scalability’ in advance.

The ‘dual wish list’ method of briefing

A great way to do this is to provide two lists to your webmaster, designer or developer.

The first is immediate objectives such as aforementioned appearance, search engine ranking and other immediate requirements.

The second is a list of ‘future requirements’ such as eCommerce, integrated email marketing system and so on.

By doing this, your web professional will create the website in such a way as to allow for the easy and affordable addition of these capabilities when required.

Estimate future costs

Better still, ask the professional to provide an estimate of costs to add these capabilities in future with your initial estimate.

In good hands, they should only cost a small establishment cost or a slightly higher addition to your monthly platform/hosting charge.

Remember, technology features are now more affordable than ever, so if in doubt, get a second quote or opinion.

Apart from the savings this approach can represent, it also gives you the peace of mind to be able to get on with what you do best.

In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.

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Craig Reardon

Craig has been assisting and educating Australian smaller businesses with their marketing and website requirements since 2002 via his business The E Team.

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