What is your website about?
A nice simple question but one that will impact upon everything else you do. Even the biggest of
sites can be summarised easily and ideally you can describe what your site is about in one simple
As you build your site you will be tempted by shiny new widgets or flashy graphics you stumble
across which can easily lead to you going off topic or creating a confused site.
The answer to this question is essentially your mission statement and will help you to maintain
focus throughout the development process.
Mission statement examples:
“Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
“To provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything.”
“To build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Segment, target & position
Every market, no matter how small, has multiple segments with one or more unifying
characteristics. The art is to identify those you want to target and then position your site in such
as way that they respond to it positively.
Segmenting your market
The categories below are not mutually exclusive and you can mix and match to your heart’s
– Age, gender, marital status, ethnicity, occupation…
– Country, County, city, town, size of population…
– Benefits sought, Occasions (e.g. Christmas), usage rate, price.
It is likely you will do a lot of this unconsciously and you don’t have to sit down and draw up a
business plan General Motors would be proud of, but make sure you always keep your audience
in the back of your mind whenever you make a decision.
Unless you are first to market you will be competing with other websites for people’s eyeballs and
loyalty. To avoid reinventing the wheel take advantage of their hard work and have a look at what
they have done and sign up to any newsletters / marketing
• How have they structured their website?
• What tone of voice do they use?
• What services / extras do they offer?
• What can you do differently / better?
• What are their product features / prices?
• How do they promote themselves (new and existing visitors / customers)?
Note: This isn’t to suggest you should copy any design work or web copy just take inspiration
from what is good and fill any gaps you see.
To see how active they are marketing themselves and gaining brand exposure use Google’s web
search, news search and blog search. To find out which sites are linking to them use Yahoo’s site
explorer http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/. It is also worth looking at their meta-description
and meta-keywords. Although they no longer influence the large search engines, they are still
useful in helping to drive visitors to your site.
How to view a sites meta-description & keywords:
• Go to the website
• In your web browser click on ‘File’ > ‘Source’
• The meta data is always in between the <head></head> tags online.
Conduct a series of searches using your market’s core search terms:
• Which sites are ranked highest organically?
• Which sites are advertising using PPC?
• Are any user feedback / comments ranked highly and what do they say?
• Who are the big directories / forums / blogs in your market?
Forums, blogs & niche social networks.
Have a look around the social media sites that cater for your target audience and see what people
are saying about their current providers, both positive and negative (e.g. “I wish they gave me xyz
as well” or “Mine has been so quick in responding to me”). From this you can see where the gaps
are and what people consider to be important.
Choosing a domain name & hosting
Picking a domain name
You’ll find a warehouse’s worth of content online offering advice and guidance about choosing a
domain name, but to be frank it’s not that hard. The difficulty lies in finding one that is actually
A good domain name should be 3 things:
1. Easy to remember
2. Easy to type
3. Relevant to your service or brand
Ideally it should also still have the .com, co.uk & .net available to prevent you losing traffic and
anyone cyber-squatting on one of the big three domain extensions in the UK.
You will find that a lot of descriptive domain names already have the .com taken and possibly the
co.uk as well. An alternative to both options described above is to create a name that could not
possibly have been taken and build your brand around that. Existing examples include Ning.com,
Meebo.com & Flickr.com.