I often get strange looks from prospective client's or long pauses of silence when I ask this question on a phone call. The truth is I really want to know. The answer to that question helps me to understand your expectations and learn what your ultimate goal for the site is.
I'm generally expecting 1 of 3 answers...
#1 - Validation:
"If I hand someone my business card, or they see my website address on the side of my truck I want them to be able to find out more about my company and for them to feel comfortable I'm a real business."
This is the most basic of sites. We often call this a brochure site. Rather than handing out a paper brochure the client wants the website to be their on-line brochure. They are using the website to "Validate" the company. This is the least expensive type of site and may contain a few pages, generally less than a dozen, to provide information about the firm. It's important that this site be professional in appearance and should portray the right image to the site visitor. If you want to appear to be a professional company, have a professional website to back it up. Most any prospect is going to Google you (sorry Google, yes I'm using your company name as a verb) before they do business with you. The key thing to remember about this level of site is you'll be driving the traffic to it... by handing out that business card, the sign on your truck, etc. It's not been built or SEO's (Search Engine Optimized) to generate its own traffic. Typical DIY (Do It Yourself) sites that you would setup at GoDaddy or WIX fall under this level.
#2 - Lead Generation:
The next step up the food chain is a Lead Generation site. A company builds this website not only to use as a validation strategy, but to attract new customers that don't know about them by name. The key here is driving traffic to the site, either with advertising like Google AdWords program or better yet through the natural or organic search results due to an SEO campaign.
It works like this... A potential customer searches for your product or service in a generic manner on Google or another search engine, without knowing you exist. As an example a search for "Phoenix Web Designer" would be a generic search for our services as opposed to someone searching for "BANG! Web Site Design Phoenix" who obviously already knows us by name. In order for a lead generation site to work, you must rank well for keyword phrases your prospective customers search for, or attract and generate traffic through other means such as Google AdWords. Once at the site a clear CTA (Call to Action) will lead your site visitor to contacting you to discuss your product or service.
#3 - Transactional or eCommerce:
Some companies have the ability to sell their products or services on-line. Perhaps it's an event based business and they want to allow on-line registration & payments for the tickets. eCommerce sites where a product is being sold and shipped also falls under this category. For these clients the obvious goal is to sell products, the more the merrier. As an example, Household Essentials
has a great eCommerce site we built to sell home storage, organization, and housewares. Customers come to the site, browse, add to cart, and then checkout, purchasing items that will be shipped to their door. Obviously great SEO results are a huge benefit to them as it drives customers to their site.
Communicating clearly with your Web design firm, what type of site you want will get you to your goals quicker than saying "I need a website!". Ready to discuss your website goals? Give us a call at 602-427-5626 or fill out our Request for Quote form
and we'll be in touch.