Our small business has been up and running for 15 months. In that time I have learnt a lot, and I expect my learning is to continue. I thought I would share some of the things I have learnt. If you are new to business it might help, if you have an established business it might get you thinking on the lessons you have learnt.
Like all businesses, as web designers, we need to solve problems for our clients. They need a website to serve a purpose. We need to understand that purpose, their business, and deliver a cost effective solution in a reasonable timeframe.
To start with I thought business was all to do with the product. People ask me for a website, I make one based on my skills, and deliver it,... repeat,... profit. This, however, is a very small part of what makes my business work.
Far and above the most important thing is communication. Communication to understand the client's business, communication to develop an idea for the website that benefits the business.
Many companies have whole departments devoted to updating and monitoring their business website because it is so crucial. This in house development ensures that the website fits in with the business structure and presents the business well.
Other businesses retain the professional services of people like me to set up their website for them. We then have to quickly attain business knowledge to do a good job. "What do you sell?", "Who are your clients?", "Who are your competitiors?", "What is the purpose of the website?". This is an ongoing discussion as the website is developed so that the result is appropriate for the business and its customers.
It is important to be on the same page, this saves time and reduces frustration for both parties. If you have a shared vision for the website then everyone is pulling in the same direction saving time and money and ensuring an optimal result.
Then you mix into the equation the evolving nature of business and website technology. A website has to evolve with the business and continue to provide customers with value, taking advantage of the latest technology. So the relationship I develop with a client and the dialogue we have is the start of a longterm and mutually profitable endeavour.
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