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Small, niche, microbusiness entrepreneurs: thinking of giving your business the gift of a web site? Start here to prepare to talk with a developer.

Thinking of creating a site or rebuilding your current site? Ask yourself these questions (updated 9/28/2009).

Confused by the web site terminology - domain name, URL, web host, etc.? Wonder no more! Domain, hosts and URLs demystified here!.

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A Website for Your Entrepreneurial Business: 4 Essential Strategies

Hey, entrepreneurs!  Thinking about creating or updating a web site for yourself or for your small business, niche business, or microbusiness?  Especially if you're not really web-savvy yourself, start here to prepare to talk with a web developer. It will make the conversation more productive, more enjoyable, more satisfying, and less expensive - great ingredients for success!

Strategy 1: Jargon Preparedness
Strategy 2: A Sense of Purpose
Strategy 3: The Lanuage of Love
Strategy 4: A Sense of Purpose, Part II

Strategy 1: Jargon Preparedness
Unless you are a highly technical person, prepare to hear words and phrases that mean nothing to you: jargon. Your web developer means no harm; it’s just difficult to avoid throwing out technical geek-speak when we’ve spent so much time immersed in it. Don’t hesitate to stop the person and ask him or her to explain what a hoojamajimmy is in plain English. If the developer sneers (or just can’t use plain English), it’s a sign: find a different developer.

Strategy 2: A Sense of Purpose
It just seems like a business ought to have a web site – right?  Because everyone else does, because it’s cool, because all the marketers say that you can make lots of money with virtually no effort on the internet.

Well, none of those things are quite exactly true – and at least one (guess which?) is wildly false.  A web site is a piece of business strategy like any other.  Be clear about what you want it to do for your business.

In other words, have some idea of what you want your site to accomplish. If you don’t, you will almost certainly be unhappy with the results.

Possibilities include bringing in new customers, selling products online, presenting information for existing customers. Different types of sites require different focuses of attention from both you and your developer. If you don’t direct this, your geeky developer may choose the geeky thing that interests him or her most. (It’s true - your web developer may have a secret technical passion that does not really apply to your web site needs!)

Strategy 3: The Language of Love
What are your customers or clients like?  How do you communicate best with them? 
If you know your audience, you will have a good idea of what kind of content will get their attention. For example, do they need hard statistics, or will touching life stories reach them? Are they readers, or will video better capture their attention?  What about pictures?  Charts and graphs?  What will make them feel the love?

That immediately brings the next question: who will create this content? Are you (or should you be) working with a marketing specialist?  Do you want your web developer to help you with content creation?  Do you want to be able to update it yourself later?

Also consider whether your best communication with your customers/clients will be served by anything like a calendar of events, a blog, a discussion forum, a helpdesk, an email form (e.g., request for information), the ability to create polls or surveys, etc.

Strategy 4: A Sense of Purpose, Part II
Remember your goals, and base your decisions on them. For example, if bringing in new customers is the main goal of your site, you’ve got to invest in marketing – just creating the site won’t cut it. A good developer will work with you on determining what is needed, and then on the best way to accomplish your goals within your budget.

Now, your geeky developer will almost certainly have lots of really cool ideas about your site.  Some of these will be good; some may be middling to bad.  Please DO listen to your developer.  This is his or her job, and so he or she can be expected to know a lot about the topic, including what is likely to work well for the type of site you are requesting. This is why you’re going to a pro, right? But do not hesitate to ask your developer these questions: 

You don’t have to figure it all out on your own – helping with this is part of a web developer’s job, and often passion, too.  But educating yourself a bit and knowing what you want from a web site will help you make good, cost-effective decisions regarding development, and will result in more satisfaction with the results.


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