Sounds like a silly question? You’d be surprised how many people haven’t got the answer clear though

Websites exist for many purposes – from simple contact information through to a complete customer information, sales and management system. Setting down a clear answer to the simple question: ‘Why do I want a website?’ starts the whole process off with clarity. The answer may change as you see what is possible, but start with the answer that is right for now.

What can a website do?

A website is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

There are a significant number of people who have mobility proboems. These people are turning more and more to the internet for information and to do their initial window-shopping.

There are various functions that a website can fulfil:

An online business card


This could be a single page that tells people what you do and how to contact you. Given that the initial design is done it would seem an under-use of time not to fill it out with more detail such as at least making it an online brochure.

An online brochure


You might want simply to have an online brochure to which you direct enquirers through advertising, following email contact or through telephone enquiries. The huge advantage of a web-brochure is that it doesn’t cost anything to print and can be updated and changed limitlessly and at little or no cost.

It can be designed so that it can be printed by the potential customer in such a way that the usual web page surrounds are left off and the customer’s print copy contains just the important information and relevant images.

You might call this an ‘entry-level’ type of website with which you will start. Later, you might want to expand it to do other things.

Obtaining information, encouraging contact


A website can ask potential customers to provide initial information that would help you provide themn with a particualr product or service.

A form could be presented which asks potential customers to provide information in a standard format which would allow you to contact them back with an estimate, for example, that is geared to their requirements. You could ask for all those basic bits of information that seem to take forever on the telephone. Allowing you to be clearer about heir needs and clearer with them about how you can help them.

Selling products and services online


Part of your website could be focused on selling your products and services online. Many people fall for the ‘off-the-shelf’ systems for e-commerce only to discover later that they have over-paid for an over-complex system that they struggle to maintain. One disillusioned client told us they would have been better off paying all the overheads for a high street shop!

Using and managing data online


At the ‘top’ end of website uses are those that are built from data you already have in a database or that collect and manage customer information – subscriptions, order history for example.

What you need to think about

Ask your self – what might a website do that would improve some aspect of your work – whether you are a business, a service, a voluntary organisation or a private individual.

Once you’ve done that, you can move on to the next stage – deciding what you actually do want a website to do for you.