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    How to Develop an Effective Web Presence?
For the first time in history, a new medium, the Internet has allowed anyone with a few dollars and a little bit of knowledge to become a writer, designer, or publisher. But in our haste to write, design, and publish, we've seemed to have forgotten our reasons for doing so. How else can one explain the high number of poorly written and designed web sites that now litter the Web.

While many existing sites only add to the mess, it’s not impossible to buck the trend and create an effective web presence. By taking a few precautions before you start and following a few basic rules you can avoid the pitfalls of other sites.

Learn as much as you can
Online design is different from print design. A fundamental understanding of the medium and how users interact with it are essential to developing an effective web presence. As a communicator, you need to decide how you fit in. Do you want to design the site yourself? Are you going to let your Information Systems or Marketing teams lead the way? Or are you going to hire outside experts? Regardless of which route you take, you’ll need to understand what’s possible and what’s involved to form an effective strategy. You can do this by looking at other web sites and talking to others who’ve been through similar situations. The more you know, the more prepared you’ll be to handle the challenges of creating an effective web presence.

Begin with a plan
Once you’ve done your research and formed your own opinion, you’ll need to develop a strategy. The planning stage is the most important part of the development process. Imagine, going to a bank with a few notes on a napkin to ask for a loan. Who cares if you have a good idea? If you haven’t shown that you’re able to articulate your ideas in a cohesive plan, you’re bound to be turned away. Like a good business plan, an effective strategy can mean the difference between success or failure and possibly your credibility.

Don’t be afraid to take your time here. A well thought out plan can easily consume at least 20% of the entire development project. And if you’re working with outside developers or a large committee, you can expect to spend up to 35% of your time committing your ideas to paper.

Solve a problem
Like most communications, addressing the problem should be your number one goal. Too many sites begin with statements like "Our competitors have a web site," or "Our site is going to use all the latest technology." Instead, focus on why you need a web site or why you should use new technology? You’d be surprised how much easier it is develop a solution and how simple the final result might be. It may turn out that a small web site with basic service and product information is enough for the first phase of the site. Or you may decide that using the latest technology will shut out 30% of your audience.

In any case, asking "why?" will help you to focus on the real reasons you need a web site.

Be realistic
Finally, be realistic with your goals and strategy. Try not to let yourself or others within your organization promise too much. It’s easy to get swept away in the excitement and promise your superiors that the new site will help reach an untapped market which will increase revenue by some unknown percent. Great web sites take time and continued effort. So be honest to yourself and others. Become an online preacher and help dispel the myths of this new medium.

By doing your homework, developing a plan, and staying focused you'll be on the right track to creating an effective web presence. And if you need help along the way, remember you’re not alone. There are thousands of others out there who have been through similar situations and may be happy to share their experiences with you. The best part about it, is that they’re only a web site away.

Hire professionals
If you're a little unsure about starting an online venture by yourself, there are plenty of design companies, consultants, and high school students to help you. But, like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. So make sure you do your homework.

If your web site is in need of targeted traffic, please contact us at info@mediakraft.com for assistance.