Why Do You NEED a Web site?
For the same reason that the microwave is considered a necessity in today's culture, people want access to information and they want it fast. No longer to you have to haul your phonebook out from under the couch or visit a place to have your questions answered or to buy products. It's all seconds away on the Internet.
The Function: A good Web site can be your best employee. Not only is it on-call 24/7, 7 days a week will actually tell each customer the same thing! (Seriously how many employees can really do that?) If properly designed the site will serve as a hub of information for both your general constituents and consumers purchasing your products. It should serve as a means to accomplish your company's goals, whether they be to bring exposure to your brand, sell a product, or attract business connections.
The Focus: One of the most common mistakes made by new Web site "owners" is trying to cram too much information onto a site. First you should determine what it is your business does. This is where many small businesses become scattered. Either they haven't found their niche in the industry or they are still attempting to generalize in their field. A site that contains too many branches of information can be confusing and chaotic. Viewers should easily be able to determine what it is you do, sell, or want them to know.
The Format: The Web site should be formatted with both the functionality and focus in mind. A clever layout that allows the user to easily navigate through all features and components is a must. If the user isn't able to find the information they're searching for within the first fifteen seconds, they will lose interest and leave the site. From a design perspective, the site should be branded to correspond with the rest of the business in look and feel of other promotional pieces if possible. As trends and options are expanding, the site should be designed in such a way to make this growth easy.
The Future: Every business owner is looking towards the future. Where will your company be in 5 years? In 10? In 15? Keeping the future of your business in mind as your organize your Web site is vital to optimizing your system from the beginning. When selecting a start-up package, make sure the services offered will enable you to exponentially add elements to the site at a later time as your client base and revenue increase. Your Web site will be required to grow as your business expands.