| How to Develop an Effective
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,
its 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, youll
need to understand whats possible and whats involved
to form an effective strategy. You can do this by looking at other
web sites and talking to others whove been through similar
situations. The more you know, the more prepared youll be
to handle the challenges of creating an effective web presence.
Begin with a plan
Once youve done your research and formed
your own opinion, youll 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 havent shown that
youre able to articulate your ideas in a cohesive plan, youre
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.
Dont 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 youre 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?
Youd 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.
Finally, be realistic with your goals and
strategy. Try not to let yourself or others within your organization
promise too much. Its 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 youre
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 theyre only a web
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
If your web site is in need of targeted traffic,
please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org