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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Build a Destination and not a Website

Today I had someone say to me "that every business in Australia needs a website". My answer surprised them as it was NO; businesses need a destination, they need a business solution that adds value.
If you look at the numbers; around half of all Australian businesses do not have a website; and around 80% do not transact online. So the obvious conclusion is what an opportunity. But there are deeper issues.
There are a plethora of free website builders available and there are also free online store builders. Some are open source some are software as a service (SaaS) but free or very cheap. Theoretically there should be no impediments to a business having a website in this day and age - it is after all the Information Era.
However I believe that a business can make a significant business mistake to treat the decision to create a website like creating a placeholder or digital signpost. Websites are not a disposable commodity and reflect on your business credibility. In fact I believe more than half of the websites that Australian businesses have created do more harm than good.
The comment I often hear is that it was free or cheap so it was done as a placeholder. Nothing in business is free and often the things that we do not pay for can be the most expensive. You just have not worked out how you are paying for it yet.

If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there.

As para-phrased from the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland knowing the destination is important. So, is building a website for your business the real objective? Or is it providing a destination for your stake holders. A web presence is an important external, as well as internal, tool for your business.
In the information era the internet is a road that leads in many different directions and we get value when we end up at the right destination that can deliver us a result.
Along the way we have to navigate some difficult terrain and often end up in places that we were not expecting. When we end in the wrong place we often never go there again.

Make your website the Destination for your business

How do you know when you have arrived at the right destination?
The first and simplest notion to consider is that you have found what you needed or were looking for. However it needs to be coupled with some other core issues.
The most important of those is the recognition that you arrived at the right place. This generally is about consistent branding. Your business physical identity and digital identity need to share common factors in style and imaging.
Trust is also a key issue and is supported by a professional appearance, contact details, security and the information that you present.
Unfortunately businesses often rush in and build a website without considering the objective or the impact. How often have I heard that "the friend of my cousin has created a website for us"; I have lost count, but in each case it is generally followed by a sad story.

Set your Objectives and you will get a business Destination

What is the mission and objectives of your website?
This the key question that you need to get answered for your business before getting that website built. Remember that the website is the essential destination for your business and needs to support and enhance your business presence.
So start the process by answering that question and the end result will be a better solution that will add value to your business.
Yes you need a presence on the web now more than ever, it is a business necessity, but think before you act.
If you want to learn more about getting the right digital destination then read about the 10 Steps to eCommerce Success on our website.

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