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Planning Your Website

Before you purchase a website, here are some important steps to consider:
  • Research your market
  • Define the intention of the website
  • Determine your target audience
  • Understand the costs
Here is an outline of your likely website costs:
  • Website Development cost
  • Domain name registration
  • Hosting setup fees
  • Hosting yearly fee
  • Ongoing maintenance costs
  • Online marketing costs
  • Street level marketing (business cards or webcards, posters, newspaper advertising etc.)
Slipstream Media can give you a free upfront fixed quote for website development. We are a hosting reseller, so can offer you very competitive prices for website hosting. Setting up SlipManager CMS to manage your website content can greatly reduce the cost of ongoing maintenance, and is recommended for all but temporary websites.

Contact Slipstream Media if you have any questions about costs involved in your website project.

Focus

Decide upon one or two things that you really want people to do at your site. Your home page should have a clear outline of what the business is, and directions for people to do those one or two important actions.

Testimonials

Collect testimonials! They are invaluable for promoting your product or service, and lend credibility to your business, (which is very important in cyberspace). Write to past customers and ask them for comments on your product or service. Make sure you record their comment verbatim, along with their name, job title and company name.

Feedback Forms

Customer feedback forms are invaluable in obtaining useful information about your website, products or services, and can often help you to make improvements. Providing feedback forms make it easy for website visitors to send you the information you most important to you, such as who they are, how they found the website, what they thought of your products or services, whether they have used your services before, and any suggetions for improvement they may have.

Free Content

Try to find something that you can give away for free, to attract visitors and encourage interest in your site. If you are selling something, free content advertises the quality of your product, makes visitors feel like they are not receiving a 'hard sell', and keeps visitors at your site longer. Also, if you are giving away someing like a picure or downloadable files, you can incorporate your contact details and website address in the item. You can give away a background image which has your website address at the bottom.

Some good ideas are: general information, tutorials, recipies, useful links, pictures, or a song sample.

Provide Solutions

Focus on how your product or service will solve the visitor's problem instead of just saying how great your product or service is. Relate your product to your customer's situation and give examples of how your product or service will help.

The All-important Mailing List

Your mailing list is one of the most valuable assets of your business. You can regularly keep your customers informed about new products, updates to your site, and exciting news about your business. Previous customers are more likely to become repeat customers. The awareness of your business grows.

Work hard to get your visitor's email address. Give the visitor many inscentives to join your mailing list - free content, newsletters, contests, an article via autoresponder, even small discounts on your products. Make sure what you send your mailing list is interesting, and will make recipients want to go to your site. Present informative news, useful content, good gossip perhaps or inside scoop on issues that you do not necessarily display on your website. Your newsletter should have two sections - your short advertisment, and interesting content which has nothing to do with selling your product.

It's important to let the visitor know that their email is being added to a mailing list. The last thing you want to do is annoy your potential customers with unexpected emails. Not only that, bulk emailing to people that have not requested it is called "spam", and can get you into legal trouble. Also, you must allow people to unsubscribe from your mailing list easily.

Guarantees

Provide the best guarantee that you can. If you advertise a hassle-free, 100% money back guarantee, people are going to feel comfortable enough to order from you. Make your guarantee as long as possble. If customers feel pressured to decide on keeping a product within a month, they are more likely to return it than if you had given them a year. Also, a year-long warranty makes customers feel like you are going to be around for a while. People are naturally cautious about ordering over the internet, so do as much as you can to reassure them that you are a legitimate business with a strong guarantee. Usually, a good guarantee will increase your sales and not your returns.

Reciprocal Links

This is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site, and move you up the search engine listings. Find business who are in your industry (but not direct competitors), and ask them to put a link to you on their site, and you will do the same for them (usually on a separate "links" page). If you have their phone number, call them rather than use email - that personal connection will go a long way in helping you get what you ask for, and it is less easy to turn down a person than an email. If you put their link on your site first, and then request that they do the same for you, they will be more likely to agree.

Make it easy for people to link to you. Send them the HTML code to put into their site, or better yet, have it available at the top of your links page, along with a picture of your logo. You can tell other sites that you have linked to them, and to check your links page - not only will that get them to your site, but they will be able to get the code for your link too.

If you are including SlipManager CMS in your website, you can easily add links to your website, making it easier to offer a link exchange with other sites.

FAQ

A Frequently Asked Questions page helps your customers find information about you business quickly and easily, and saves you time in answering similar questions.

Check Your Email

Every day! Customers often measure the professionality and trustworthyness of a business by how fast they receive a reply to their query. They have taken the time to contact you, so make sure their first impression of your business is a good one!


Now you are ready to go to the Website Planner, which helps you to gather and send the information necessary to begin your website project.

Also, don't forget to check out the Marketing Guide.