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At what stage is your Website?

Written by Margaret Shakibaie

A website is an organic process, growing and developing as your business grows and develops.

I have written a short story to illustrate this.

Once upon a time there was a small business owner called Mary. Mary had created a range of cookware products. She decided she needed a website, but as her business was only starting up she wasn't exactly sure what she wanted for a website.

She contacted Margaret from The ICT Shak for a web strategy planning session. Margaret discussed with her the business plans and ideas and together they created a big vision, but planned for baby steps.

So Mary started with a single one page website. This allowed her to register her business name domain, apply her new logo and business colours into a simple static design and have something to link her from social media pages. At this stage she could start a link building campaign with local free directories and develop her online NAP (Name Address Phone) presence..

The business started to take off and as Mary was really starting to discover which direction her business was taking. She decided she was ready to change her website to a CMS a Content Management System, choosing Joomla as it gave increased functionality and freedom of application of design.

The CMS was built and she then started blogging to build up her online content, and to present herself as an expert in her field, talking about the application of her cooking equipment and adding video clips. Mary used social media regularly, always feeding the clients back into the website. Mary got more and more people interested in her product and her business grew.

As the business grew even more she was finding it hard to keep in touch with all her contacts, leads and clients, so she added an online newsletter. This enabled her to manage and create multiple lists of clients, contacts and leads. She could also send out automatic email campaigns in reply to people who left their email address in her website.
At this point she decided on applying a model of direct distributorship sales. She used the website and her blog through social media to connect with stay at home mums to encourage people to sign-up as distributors.

She developed an online application form for the distributors. To be sure she didn't waste time with "tyre kickers" having all the relevant information in the initial inquiry. At this stage she had a number of people distributing her product. She then added a list of distributors to her website, allowing each one to have an individual profile. She realised that the majority of her distributors sold at local markets and this allowed them to promote available times and location.

To further support her distributors, she then added an online forum where her distributors could support each other with questions about the product and selling tips etc.

At this stage she decided to add in an eCommerce system, allowing the general public to see the product range, price and information, but not be able to purchase directly from her therefore honouring her distributors. This eCommerce system also allowed her distributors could login and place their weekly orders, and pay by credit card.

Mary is now a happy business owner, realising her website is an organic process, growing and developing as her business grows and develops. This web solution process enabled her to decrease operating costs and increase profitability by harnessing the power of the internet.

At what stage is your website in relation to your business?