Randal Design

Pure-CSS Website production in the San Francisco Bay Area

So You Want a Website

It's time your company made a presence on the Web. But what exactly do you need? How will you use the site? What kind of content will you host? Here are some things to consider before shopping for a site designer.

What's your target market?

diversityWho is your audience? Are your users going to be incredibly Internet Savvy? Or are they confounded by the Tivo? Is your user-base local, or international? Do they speak English or will you need several translations? Will they be accessing your site on desktop computers or cell phones? Is their software current? Will they be accessing your site while at home or in the office, or even on public transportation? Try to draw a picture of your projected site visitor.

What kind of activity will happen on your site?

Will you be producing a full e-commerce site, or simply a brochure about your products and services? Will you be able to sell your product on the Web, or is it enough to initiate contact with the customer and instill confidence in your business? Have you looked into Shopping Cart services available from sources like Yahoo and Amazon?

Is this a site you date, or a site you marry?

Will static content be adequate, or will you need to update material on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis? Will the content be managed manually, or by a CMS? Will you need to add pages yourself, or can you afford to maintain a relationship with a Webmaster?

Where does content come from?

Do you have copy writers, or will you need to hire them? Can you extract content from an existing print brochure? Do you have customer testimonials? Do you have photography related to your business? Will the site contain social networking tools like discussions, blogs and comments--allowing the users to create content for you? Are you licensing material from an external source? Will it improve relations to show your employees on your site?

Who are you?

cityscapeDoes your service deal with consumers directly, or business-to-business? Are you non-profit, or big-budget? Are you a large firm or a mom-and-pop? Are your products tangible or abstract? Are you in the arts, entertainment, household products, consulting, or retail?

Do you really need a site?

Is this a personal project, or do you expect a presence on the Web to improve your credibility, create new customer contacts, and even sell products for you? Is this valuable PR or are you just keeping up with the times? Will a recommendation on Yelp be sufficient?

You need it when?

Will this project span months or is your deadline in two weeks? Can you launch your site in increments? Is this a make-over of an existing site, or from whole cloth? Is the content ready? Are you prepared to produce copy for the basic needs of a site, like the "About" page?

What's the scale?

Is this a community site? Is this a 10-page brochure, or even merely an address page? Will this site spawn localizations? Will your site include an intranet? Will users need to create accounts? Will your site be database-driven? Will your site maintain relationships with outside homepages or marketplaces? Do you need to operate Web applications? Can you manage a dedicated Web team within your firm?

Where will you get users?

Can you depend on search engines to capture a culture in a market which includes the entire planet? Are you prepared for a campaign of banner ads, targeted marketing, and even print? Can you write articles about your industry to spark interest from outside sources like blogs and discussions on other sites?

What's the Look and Feel?

Do you have a strong branding to go by, or will you need a whole new design package? Is your logo ready for the Web? Can stock images create a friendly feel? Does your product imply a self-evident motif, like red white and green for Italian foods? Is your tone informal or official; classical or high-tech; large or accessible? Do you need heavy graphics to excite visitors, or does the content speak for itself? Is your color scheme warm or cool? Is your typeface common or exotic? Is it appropriate to represent your business in an embedded Flash presentation? Is your interface cutting-edge, or easy-to-use? How do these questions relate to your business and your customers?

These are just a few topics to consider before even consulting Web development teams. Ponder them seriously, then you will have a idea of what kind of developer you need.

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