Business Savvy

Is your website designer also a business analyst? If not, a poor return on investment will result...

Without the site builder understanding your business, your site will not serve your business interests, or in starker terms, will fail. Successful sites, in fact all successful technology, recognizes a simple truth - technology only amplifies your business process or model. If your business model is good, and the technology is aligned properly with it, a website can become a huge business advantage in attracting and retaining customers, in building new revenue streams, in reducing overhead costs, and in branding and reputation management.

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As Peter Drucker said, "The purpose of a business is to create customers". Everything else is costs. So if your technology cannot prove it is helping to bring in and retain customers (people who pay real money for your products or services, not tire-kickers), then it is failing (a net negative return on your investment). The chart on the left shows the relationship between key elements of your business, your social media, your technology platform, and how ultimately good analytics can give useful feedback on whether your online presence (apart from social media) is successful in getting clicks (but will not help with your click-to-customer conversion rate).

The two parts of a successful website engagement are 1) technologists understanding the business priorities and principles, and 2) finding and applying the proper technology to YOUR business, agency, or non-profit.

Step 1 requires a website designer who has experience in business analysis. Make sure that is the case before paying money for a website. Many website designers are simply graphic designers who may have picked up some technology along the way, but have no depth of understanding of either the available technologies or of business operations. Caveat emptor.

Step 2 requires the site builder be agnostic about technology, because the possibilities are vast, and too often the technologist will build your site without a thought as to whether that solution is the right one for your business. Most technologists specialize in a small set of technologies, then try to squeeze your requirements into an inappropriate solution. There are critical tradeoffs between business requirements, technology frameworks, and good design principles. The number of website design firms qualified to make good decisions about those tradeoffs is a fraction of the industry.

Opstreams is one of the few qualified to make these decisions. We are not alone, but we are among the few, and we are the most affordable of that breed in metro New York.

Curious about how to find a company qualified to build a business-centric site? Here are five key questions to ask of your technologist/site designer:

  1. What is your experience in business analysis? How would you go about performing an analysis of my business, if at all?
  2. How would you determine if I would even gain a net advantage from having a site at all, versus simply using social media to promote my organization?
  3. Do you use a template framework for your site design, or do you build from scratch, and why? In either case, what is the approximate cost of my site template and how many variations will you show me?
  4. Which technology framework do you use to build sites, and what key factors do you use to determine the most appropriate one for me? What are the key differences between the cookie-cutter builders (such as Weebly, QuickSite, etc.) and true frameworks such as Joomla, Drupal, and Wordpress, and why should I care?
  5. When you quote me, do you clearly separate these four elements - 1) Building the site framework, 2) Graphical design, 3) Content preparation, and 4) Training?

The answers to these questions should be clear, matched and priced appropriately to your needs, and give a good understanding of the builders' responsibilities versus yours.