Do you need a website?

and what kind of website do you need?

As Part 1 of our guide to setting up a website, I’m going to address the most basic questions – do you need a website? And if you do, what kind of website do you need?

Now, it may seem counter-intuitive for a website designer to be asking if you really need a website.  We make our living making websites, right?  Well, yes, but professional integrity compels me to say that there are instances when a standard website is not the best answer when you need an online presence. What might those circumstances be?

  • When the budget is extremely tight or non-existent
  • When the duration of the project is very short (only a couple of weeks)
  • When the deadline of needing something online and working is very short (one or two days)
  • When a facility exists which does the job required as well or better than a standard website

Lets say for instance, that you’re arranging a charity fundraising ball and want some sort of online presence for people to see all the details.  This fulfills nearly all of the circumstances noted above: no budget; not needed for long; last minute; and a facebook page or event would do the job fine.

So the first question you ask yourself should be – do I really need a website?  Quite legitimately, your answer might be: I don’t know.  Worry not – we can discuss your requirements with you and advise you if facilities already exist which do what you need.  We can also help you set them up and show you how to use them.

Lets say that we’ve done this, and actually what you really do need is a website.  The next question is, what sort of website do you need?  The things that will influence this are:

  • Your intended level of involvement. If you never want to do anything with your site once it’s been set up, and you’re really sure about that, you’ll want a static html site.  (Note, we don’t do very many of these.) If want to be able to update your site, change the text, prices, etc., blog, or put up the latest news about your compnay you will want a ‘content management system’ type of website which we specialise in. (More about updating your website.)
  • Your confidence with computers and the internet. There is a trade off between functionality and ease of use.  If you’re a competent and confident user of computers you may want that extra functionality.  If you’re a bit nervous (which is fine) it may be better to start off with something simple and build from there.
  • What the website needs to do. If you want to sell things online, do you want to sell lots of things (which needs a full blown shop), or just one (which needs one simple ‘buy it now’ button)? Do you want your visitors to be able to engage with your content by posting comments?  Do you need a ‘brochure site’ where people can browse and find out about you? This is related to..
  • What do you want your user to to do when they go to your site? Buy something? Contact you?  Download a brochure? This isn’t always an obvious question to answer and is well worth thinking about as it dictates the design in terms of the focus of the site.

The answers to these questions will help us to find the right format and functionality for your site.

Next: Part 2: Price, features and details.

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