Before you meet with a designer, you should have a good idea of what you want your small business web site design to include. Knowing what you want ahead of time can save you time and money, as the most initial consultations with web designers are not always free. Here are some things to consider before meeting with a designer:
What do you plan to use the website for?
This is an important question. Websites can have many functions. Some businesses use a site as advertisement, or a way to help online customers find their contact information or information about products or services offered. Some companies sell products online, or link to partner businesses or other websites. Having a good idea of the goal of the site is the first step in determining the type of website you need.
Types of small business sites
There are three main types of websites. Each is used by a variety of businesses. The cost of your site and it’s capabilities will be largely determined by which type you choose.
Information-sharing – This type of site is the most basic, and is usually the fastest and least expensive to create. Information sharing sites are almost always based on a template, and customized to include information about your business. Information sharing sites are not recommended for most businesses that rely on a site to attract customers.
Showcase – Showcase sites are a "flashier" version of information sharing sites. They usually contain graphics, videos, and other tools to highlight products or services offered by your business. Showcase sites can be expensive, depending on the level of customization, but are usually more cost effective than ecommerce sites.
Small Business E-commerce - A web ecommerce for small business is extremely dynamic, and allows your business to sell products, control inventory, and manage customer databases. Though an ecommerce site can be template based, most require additional programming to customize. This is the most complex and expensive type of site.
Once you determine how the site will tie in to your business goals and the type of site you want, you need to consider how the site should look. If you have an existing logo or graphics that are associated with your business, these can be incorporated into the design. If you want to use photos, media players, or music, you should determine how these will contribute to the "mood" of the site. It is a good idea to make a list of sites you like in terms of graphics, organization, and color schemes before you meet with a designer. This way, the designer can get a good idea of your taste and the look you are trying to achieve. If you’ve worked with a small business graphic design company in the past, collect any images or logos they provided and transfer them into a single folder or onto a CD for the designer to browse through.
Of course, these are not the only concerns about your website you should consider. Think about the types of customers you want to attract in terms of geography, demographics, or income level. A good designer can tailor the site to a specific type of internet user, make the site more navigable, and easier to find.
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