Posts Tagged ‘Britton Watson’

Website Worksheet

Monday, December 20th, 2010

In this day and age websites are a critical part of business, or at least they should be. But we all know that establishing an online presence requires, time money and commitment. There are still companies that think their website is just an online brochure, but it should be much more then that. When executed correctly it can help increase sales, reduce costs such as support for example and it helps to improve customer relations. A website should be an investment that is nurtured over time. The first building block of a successful website is refreshing the content in a timely fashion. While all companies, even Blue Olive, has the best of intentions of keeping their website current, it is a more daunting task then most realize and can often be neglected because the business of running your business takes priority – but that’s a whole other blog…

Input is the foundation for a website and this worksheet should help identify the goals of a new site including audience, look and feel, functionality and content. You should allow every person involved in the project fill out his or her own form. Skip the questions not relevant to your project, and once all the information is gathered, collate into a single document and email it to solutions@theblueolive.com. We can help get your site off the ground or revise a tired and outdated site.

1. Project Scope
a. In order for Blue Olive to get to know your company a little better a brief background is needed. This will provide better insight into what you are looking to accomplish not just for your site but for you company.

b. This should be followed by a brief description of the project.

c. There should already be a budget set aside for your website so that miscommunication and disappointment is avoided. Budgets are a driving factor into what can and can’t be built and/or programmed.

2. Objectives
a. What do you wish to accomplish with your website? – a well thought out or defined goal must be considered if you want to build a successful site. Think things through, even if you start small, you can grow with ease if the site requires a particular approach or feature in the future.

b. What are the expectations of the website?

c. Do you want to sell a product online or will this be an extension to your traditional bricks and mortar business?

d. Will the website accompany a new product launch?

e. Do you want to collect information from your users (aka data mining) so that you can establish a better profile of them and have the ability to communicate with them via outgoing emails later?

f. Will you expect people to use search engines to find your site (if so SEO or search engine optimization should be budgeted) or will established customers use it for informational purposes?

3. Target and Project Management
a. Who is your company’s primary target audience? If Blue Olive has a profile it can be easier to plot out a design with that group in mind, so try to give us an idea about the audience including
     i. Age,
    ii. Gender,
   iii. Race,
   iv. Income level,
    v. Marital status, etc.

b. How often will the site be updated? CMS (Content Management System) tools allow for self management and therefore do not tether you to an agency when a small change is necessary.

4. Site Structure
a. Most companies don’t have a structure in mind when they contact Blue Olive. However, a structure, blue print, or site map is an important part of the price setting formula. Blue Olive can help you in that area but it’s always better to do some research on that particular topic so that you can determine the number of pages your site will be. Just like a collateral brochure with numerous pages is more expensive than a tri-fold, so too are many web pages. Browsing the internet for examples of sites you like and don’t like is very wise. This will also help you identify and define the major content areas.

b. Think about the navigation and how to keep it from being complex. People will quickly leave your site if it takes too long to find something or they feel lost within the site. While people want content, good web design will have the right balance between visual appeal, content, and usability. A website with an amateurish design will not provide credibility and visitors potentially won’t buy anything from an untrustworthy looking site.

c. Will you need a back-end to house encrypted information or manage an e-commerce site? If so purchase of an annual security certificate is a must to include in your budget.

5. Content
a. This needs to be at the top of the list. Use the site structure as an outline and then define the content for each page. Knowing how much copy and or visuals (aka content) needs to be housed on each page on the front end and ensure that the design will compensate.

b. Content is king and it is necessary for a site to be searchable. It should also drive users back to your site. Like we mentioned previously, a regularly updated website is a factor not to underestimate. A well updated site together with cleanly coded pages will get a higher ranking on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

c. If the budget allows, a professional copywriter is the best way to ensure your site communicates its message – Blue Olive can handle that too.

6. Summing It Up
a. Company Info
     i. Contact Information
    ii. Brief background of your company

b. Scope, objectives, and Target Audience
     i. Brief description of project
    ii. Goals and general scope of the project
   iii. Target audience, to whom the site is aimed

c. Budget & Time Frame
     i. Provide and estimated budget – allow additional dollars for complex sites or ecommerce sites
    ii. Include time frame or upcoming deadlines – the larger the site the longer it takes to build

d. Design Information
     i. Site Structure
    ii. Overview of design elements that should or must be considered
   iii. Corporate identity guidelines (if they exist for your company)
   iv. Examples of site you like and dislike (at lease three of each, good to use competitor sites as a point of reference as well)

This list may seem long, but in fact it’s more efficient to keep your answers brief and to the point. This list simply provides us a reference to get the communication started. Only in an ideal world would all the items be answered, so use this as a guide to talk with Blue Olive or to any firm providing you a website.

Need social marketing help.. stay tuned for the next blog.

Shopping for a website is like buying a vehicle

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

There are so many variables that go into pricing a website and let’s face it web producers all need the same basic information, copy and pictures to develop a design prior to programming; but the difference in producers is their ability to develop a site architectured specifically to gain the widest appeal for the client’s audience.

So what does it cost?  That is the question Blue Olive gets asked on at least a weekly basis and that depends on what you can and will do for yourself, and how much you want done for you.  Here are 10 basic questions to consider and that should be asked/answered to give you an accurate price:

1. Do you want a customized design or will a design template do?

2. Do you already have photography, if not then will you be satisfied with stock photography or will you need a photo shoot?

3. Is the copy already written and grammatically correct, if not will you need a copy writer to research and write your copy from scratch or will you be providing some draft copy for them to re-write?

4. Do you know how many pages you anticipate the finished site to be?

5. How often will the copy and pictures on your site need to be updated? If more than yearly, you may need/want a content management application or are you willing to learn some basic HTML coding?

6. Do you want your site to be found by search engines?  If so you will need to have Meta words and analytics (preferably Google, Yahoo, and Bing) embedded in your source code and will need a monthly budget for optimization updates. You will also need to develop a list of potential keywords words or word strings that people would use to search and find your site?

7. What are the goals for your site? To be an electronic brochure or do you want it to be an interactive experience? Is it to attract new visitors/customers or will it be for existing customers already familiar with your products/services or does it need to attract both? Do you want/expect to be on Page 1 of searches?

8. Will you want to gather visitor contact information so you can reach back with emails later?

9. Will you sell products/services on the site?

10. Do you already own a URL address and where will the site be hosted?

While these aren’t the only questions you will need to answer, they provide a good start in making an educated decision before selecting the best interactive team to meet your web needs.

And, since a blog of mine wouldn’t be finished without an analogy, think about your web budget like shopping for or replacing a vehicle. Why do you need a vehicle? To transport people and cargo from one place to another? Why do you need a website? To transport information about products and services you provide?

While a compact car is less expensive than a transport truck, and a Saturn, Honda, and Toyota are generally less expensive than a Cadillac or a Range Rover, many buyers of web services don’t understand the web end product like they do a vehicle and unfortunately you just can’t make a Schwinn bicycle work when you really need a Cheverolet Suburban.  Think of the frustration you will feel when you can’t transport your kids to school or take your family on vacation.

So, beware… sometimes you get what you pay for, but did you really know what you were buying?