I’ve done several web design and builds for smaller organizations; many of which have smaller budgets, but we work with them to give them the very best site for their needs.
Unfortunately, many smaller organization, like ministries and churches don’t want to pay for these services at all. So, often times they seek out an individual within their church or organization that has some type of knowledge what-so-ever and enlist them to build a web site. Or, they try it themselves, using a web builder from the hosting company, all of which typically lead to poor designs.
Like any business or organization (big or small), you are providing some type of product or service to a populous of people. As such, you want to make sure that you are representing yourself, your organization or your product/service to the best of your abilities. As you move forward with your desire to have a web presence for yourself personally or for a small business or organization, there are a few questions that you should ask. I call these the who, what, where, when, why, and how of web presence. Let’s take a closer look:
Who is your target audience? Who are you attempting to reach? This is a very important question, as it will be the foundation to your web design needs. The look and feel of your web site might be quite different if you’re desire is to reach 20 year olds or 50 year olds.
More important still – Who Are You? What is the culture of your organization? If this is a personal site, how do you want to represent yourself? Be honest with your audience of who you are, because this will capture the attention of the right people, not just any people!
What is the message, product, or service you want to communicate to your audience? This will help you decide what type of User Experiences you want available on your site. Are you a public speaker, a photography company, a church or non-profit looking to gain customers, followers, or speaking engagements? All of these answers help shape the design of your web presence.
How integrated do you want to become in the World Wide Web? Do you just want a web site to help create awareness of your organization? Or, do you want to be active and muster up support and involvement from your audience? If this is the case, then you might want to get involved with various types of social media! Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ are just a few of the major networking sites that can help you create awareness and involvement, but it does take time to be connected with all of these sites and successfully engage your audience. How involved do you want to be? Depending on your time constraints, you may consider hiring someone to do your social media administrative work for you.
What is your timeline? Is web presence something you want right now, or something you’re looking at for the future as you grow your organization? You must decide when the right timing is for you. In my opinion, some type of web presence is vital even at the earliest of stages. We live in a digital world and more and more people look for organization and services through online searches. When was the last time you looked in your phone book to find a restaurant, a church, or a service that you needed? Chances are, quite a long time.
The WHY question is an important one as well… Why do you want web presence? What is your goal? We touched on this above, but it is important to look at again. Have a clear vision for your web presence! Don’t just jump in and get something out there – know the WHY; the reason for really doing it, and then it can be done with excellence.
This leads me to the HOW question. If you’re like most people, you want the very best product/service for your money. And, if you’re like most, free is best – right? Well, when it comes to web design no always. If you truly want to represent yourself, your organization, and your products and services well, you need to choose wisely. Just because their is web building software provided by your web hosting company doesn’t mean it is good, or that you will be able to design a quality site. Just because someone has a little bit of understanding doesn’t mean they will give you an excellent design. Just because it is free or cheap doesn’t make it better – sometimes you really do get what you pay for! Take the time to find someone who will catch your vision and take it to the next level. Don’t be afraid of telling them you have a budget, but don’t be cheap either. Remember, these designers are spending their time creating a design that will help make you shine – they deserve proper pay for their services.
Also, let the professionals do what they know to do! A student doesn’t tell their teacher they’re teaching wrong! Don’t hire a great web designer and then ask them to create an ugly, ineffective web site for you. Give them the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW information and then allow them to soar. Don’t allow your limited understanding to block their creative process and design knowledge. Keep communication lines open, give feedback (constructively), but don’t bombard them with every little detail every day of the week. At the end of the day, you have a great looking web site that will accurately represent you! Then, depending on the answers to those questions above, you’ll know the next step in the process!