Welcome to very first post on the Sidekick Studios blog. My goal is to help small business and nonprofit owners better understand the worlds of graphic design, web, and marketing and how these these things can help your business. If you ever have questions about anything I write – come find me on Facebook, Twitter or contact me some other way (telepathy is fine but please only during regular business hours).
So let’s get to it – I want to talk about how websites are made in five parts (and five separate blog posts):
I’m trying to keep this as simple as I can while still being helpful, so this mostly pertains to basic ‘marketing-oriented’ websites aimed at letting the world know about your organization, like www.SidekickStudiosIthaca.com, compared to functionality-heavy websites like Facebook or OK Cupid, where the website is the service. Some of this pertains across the board, but I’m going to keep this more general and, hopefully, widely applicable.
If you are considering starting a new website or if you want to revise your current site, I suggest you start with a blank sheet of paper (or, fine, a Word document or Google doc) and answer these questions:
Who are my target audiences for this website? (list them, in order of priority, be specific if you can)
What are my goals for each target audience on my site? (list them, each audience can have multiple goals).
If you have a website already and you haven’t thought about this – two things may happen: first, your site loses focus and it just sits there on the internet, being its unfocused self instead of working for you and with you toward your goals. Second, you don’t have a good way to look at your website and assess it. This assessment can be as simple or complex as you want, but without clear goals it isn’t possible at all. Tracking your site’s success will be the topic of a future blog post, but here’s a teaser: you need specific goals to measure success.
Let’s use a test case and say that I’m making a website for my new company that sells 100% organic water syphoned from the gorges around Ithaca, called Gor’ganic Natural Hydration, LLC.
Here are my answers for my new company:
- Target audiences:
- Health conscious adults in Tompkins County, NY
- Vacationers and tourists to Ithaca, NY
- Cornell and Ithaca College athletes
- Misc thirsty Ithacans
- Goals: (in this case, my goals are the same for most audience groups, but that isn’t always the case)
- Learn about our products
- Place an order
- Visit our retail locations
- Sign up for our newsletter
- Click through to our Facebook and Twitter pages (and engage)
- Contact us with questions
- Share our page or products with potential customers
Don’t be afraid to look at other websites, such as companies similar to yours, for inspiration. Its not stealing – its research. If they have put this much thought into their website, you will look at it and immediately see it: the color-contrasting buttons directing visitors to ‘sign up now!’ (goal #1) and ‘Like this page for more deals!’ (goal #2) show you they have thought about their goals and want to make it easier for their users to accomplish them.
If you have a business plan, you might already have a list like this – especially if you did or plan to do market research. In the future, as you promote yourself, this list of target audience groups may help you identify different advertising channels.
Have you already done this exercise for your current or future website?
Did you learn anything new about your company?
Are there any other key strategy-related questions that I missed?
Speaking of goals… Like us on Facebook to get the next installment of “Better Than Sausage, More Boring Than Babies: How Websites are Made”.
Thanks for reading,
CEO & Lead Cape Wearer of Sidekick Studios