CONCEPTION comprises two phases: (1) Understanding and appreciating the ‘concept’ of a website which is a big deal, and (2) Conceptualizing the website to create a framework for its content.
THE CONCEPT OF A WEBSITE
It’s my opinion that many Trini business owners fail to appreciate the sheer magnitude of this ‘thing’ called a website. While owning a one is equal opportunity, not all websites are created equal. In the right hands a website can wield unlimited power, control and influence. If you think I’m being overly dramatic, thank you for proving my point.
I can rattle out a laundry list of what a website is: a 24/7 global presence, a means to communicate with customers and blah, blah blah… but that’s telling you what you know. Let me tell you something that you DON’T KNOW: the false concept is that it’s a salesperson, it’s not. Your website is YOU the owner. Heavy stuff right?
Your salesforce can never sell your business as if it was their own because only you can. Sure a crackshot salesman on the road or store clerk may do a bang up job but no one can do it like you- you know, with the same energy and passion that got you into the business in the first place. That’s the driving force behind it right, passion? When that’s lost in the mundane day to day operations it gets manifested in the mundane day to day operations.
Your website puts you in control of what message is put there and the way it’s told IN YOUR VOICE. When visitors come to your website they’re looking around and asking ‘Why should I buy from you?’ and ‘Now that I’m here what do you want me to do?’ What are you going to say?
CONCEPTUALIZING A WEBSITE
The mind thinks in pictures. If I say don’t think about an elephant what do you think of? If I ask you to describe your house, you’ll mentally walk into each room. Now that you ‘get’ the concept, you have to envision it- see it in your mind’s eye.
Define Business Objectives
What do you want it to do for you? There must be some business objective: sell online, product/service catalog, showcase completed projects, drum up Caribbean business? You know what you want the end result to be: more paying customers, referrals and repeat business- more money in the bank.
Who are these people? They are your market and you want a greater share of it and the share that isn’t buying from you is buying from your competitor (for the moment at least). For the Trini business owner these objectives can be as broad or narrow as you need them to but for heaven’s sake have a goal. Don’t throw up a website in typical Trini fashion ‘for so’.
Identifying Market Segments
Your Trini market is not one homogenous group. It is wide and varied so your website is not one size fits all. You have to speak to each subset accordingly but in an organized manner. Only then would they react positively and answer your CALLS TO ACTION. So the first step in conceptualization is to carve up your market into its component parts: women, housewives, kids, sports teams- whatever, you know better than me.
Internal Self Examination
You never expected to have to do all this for a website did you? That’s why there’s no shortage of crappy websites in Trinidad & Tobago as most are Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am, here is your website, do you want fries with that? Look inwards, here I ask my clients to do a general SWOT Analysis: identify their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats with a goal of using their findings to their website’s advantage.
The Website Wireframe
Up till now it’s all your input vetted (or pulled like teeth) with some help from me. This is my step and we haven’t gotten to the design yet, now it’s just the wireframe. The wireframe simply depicts the webpage layout or arrangement of your site’s content, including interface elements, features, functionality and navigational systems, and how they work together to provide the greatest synergy.
I take what I’ve learnt from you, add my insights and come up with an outline sketch of your website, starting with the Homepage which I like to call (and this is my own term) a snapshot of the entire business. The homepage my friend is a HUGE DEAL and has to be gotten right.
By all means you may come up with your own sketch even before we meet and after the above process we can tweak/modify as needed. In fact I encourage you to do so. Browse the net to find other websites in your industry to draw some inspiration, look at your competitors’ sites. I’ve had many clients come prepared with their basic vision which allows me to hit the ground running.
Stay tuned for Part 2.