The fundamental question I guess is, how do I get my product to my existing customers and furthermore how do I convince my potential customers that my product is right for them. So now that you have that question answered how do you start answering the next question, what do I need a website for (is that a relevant question today)? Do you need the website to advertise product only or do you need to advertise product with a value proposition? The two are fundamentally different approaches to selling product. Selling a product as a product where your customer already knows what it is requires no real upfront up-selling but if you are offering something of tremendous value that needs to convince the customer – well you have two different types of websites really. Its also pretty clear to me that there is a significant difference between a service-related vs product-related website, especially when it comes to its design. A product-related website has a shorter point of action, or call to action whereas the service-related website has a slightly longer one. Generally service oriented websites offer a service and with that service comes a portfolio and I generally look at a portfolio before I contact the owners. A product related website goes from homepage to product in a matter of one click, two at the most. A simple example comes to mind, Takealot, which I use to look for DVD’s and electronics. If I hit the homepage it generally takes me two clicks at the most, often one, to get to the product I am looking for, but that is because I know what I am looking for.
Another important question is one that addresses your current brand footprint – if you have little influence or footprint how are you going to make an inroad into those that do have a bigger brand footprint. How would you as the customer requiring the website measure that brand footprint? What other activities do you plan with the exercise of promoting your brand? Often PR activities and activities on the web run on separate budgets and often with separate teams of people, at least in my experience. How do you bring the brand footprint of your website closer to your other PR activities? Are you going to create a blog on your website to promote pre- and post PR activities? Once you have established that how will you ensure that there are continuous activities to promote the content on the website and to keep it current.
I think from the above a few elementary questions can be formulated to possibly help drive someone with no real knowledge of what goes into building websites make an informative decision.