The Development Process: Step 1 – Initial Consultation

First Step – Initial Consultation

The process of setting up an Internet World Wide Web site for your business begins with the free initial consultation. In order to make a business web site work effectively for the company and its clients, there are a number of basic marketing and development questions that should be answered. During the initial consultation, we’ll walk you through these critical questions:

Why do you want to be on the Web?

This is perhaps the single most important question. Do you want to use the web site as a marketing tool, a promotional tool, a customer service and information tool, as an information clearinghouse, as a simple corporate point-of-presence on the Internet, or some combination of these goals?

Who is your audience, and where are they?

What do you know about the people and customers that you are trying to reach via the Internet? Are these the same customers that buy from you now, or are you trying to reach a new market? Are they very familiar with computers? Do they tend to have newer computers, or older computers? Where do they come from? What is their average age? Where do they hang out online? How sophisticated are they? Why will they be looking for you? Which browsers do they commonly use? Who is your competition, and what are they doing? The answers to these and other similar marketing questions will not only guide the web site development and subsequent marketing strategy, but will also help to determine the complexity of the web site design, artwork, and features.

What does your web site need to do for you?

Once you have some ideas about why you need a web site, and where your audience is coming from (and why), then it is time to specify exactly what you need your web site to do. Will it simply provide general company information, or will it provide a complete catalog of all of your products? Will it provide a searchable database? Will it provide updated product details and technical manuals? Will it provide online ordering capabilities? Software upgrades? Discussion groups and online technical support? How about downloadable demos and catalogs? Will you need sound, animation, or custom CGI programming? Guest books, forms, counters? The idea here is to specifically identify what business functions that you need your web site to perform in order for it to be a useful tool. If you had to answer 100 phone requests for information per day, you would be very busy, but a web site can easily handle thousands of such requests daily, freeing you up for other tasks.

Who will be maintaining the web site?

Once built, a web site needs to be updated and maintained. A site with a high information turnover or large viewership will require extensive daily maintenance, other sites may only require infrequent updating. Maintenance of a site can include text updating, links updating, HTML code updating, graphics acquisition, development, optimizing, and placement, site uploading and testing across various browser platforms, site promotion, and quickly responding to incoming e-mail. Web sites with more advanced features such as CGI, Java, Javascript, ActiveX controls, animated gifs, and database connectivity will require further specialized maintenance. For the best and most consistent worldwide results across all of the viewing platforms that your viewing audience is using, it is recommended that medium to large complex sites be maintained by skilled HTML developers, on either an in-house or contract basis.

Where will the web site be hosted?

There are a wide range of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that can provide you with hosting space for your web site. Fine Line Communications can set up your web site on any of these. The type and range of advanced hosting services these ISPs offer can vary widely. Fine Line can help you select the ISP that is right for your site’s specific needs and make certain that your hosting environment will provide you with the tools and support you need now and into the future.

Using the answers provided from this initial discussion, we then move on to the next step in the web site creation process, and create a development proposal for the web site.