Top 5 mistakesnew businesses make on the web by Craig Premo Einstein's Eyes loves to help new businesses succeed on the web. This makes sense, since our company was built by an entrepreneur. One benefit of being in business for 12 years is that we've seen a lot of businesses use the web, and can share best practices with our clients as a value-added service. Listed below are 5 mistakes that we've seen businesses make when they decide to launch a new site. These apply to existing businesses that are redesigning their site as well as to start-ups.
Trying to include too many features at launch There's a natural tendency when planning a new site to want to include every feature that the target audience might possibly desire right from the beginning. That can lead to a longer development cycle, which delays the “go live” date and consequently the opportunity to start generating revenue, either directly through ecommerce or indirectly through customer contact. Don't be afraid to concentrate on a subset of key features when launching a site, and introduce more down the road in phases. Another benefit of this approach is that your users will tell you what they want as they experience your site, rather than you guessing what they want.
Trying to replicate a service that's already on the web Like Facebook? A lot of people do. At last count they had 750 million users with no end in sight. That kind of success gets peoples' attention, and inevitably the idea to do something similar, perhaps for a specific industry or area of interest, takes hold. The difficult question that has to be answered is “Why would someone want to use my site when there's already groups of like-minded users on Facebook?” Facebook is only an example; when planning your site you have to to be sure that a proposed feature is actually desired by the target audience and will get used. Otherwise, you're just wasting development time (and money).
Making functionality the business model We occasionally get a call from an entrepreneur who wants to start a website. As we discuss his or her requirements, it becomes clear that their idea revolves around tying together several pieces of functionality into one site. We'll hear them say, “Well, I want a site that has something like Facebook, along with ecommerce, a directory and classifieds.” What's missing from this equation is the underlying reason why someone will want to visit your site. You need a mission that serves an audience need, and then they'll transact and network on your site. Functionality can be easily copied; a great value proposition for a specific audience can't.
Trying to skimp on a first site New businesses inevitably need to conserve cash, and some look to template-based solutions like Quicken for quick and easy web solutions. Unfortunately, “quick and easy” can look “quick and dirty.” Your company's site is often the first point of contact you have with prospective customers. If they perceive you as unproven or unprofessional, you may never get a chance to engage in a dialog that leads to a sale.
Getting locked into closed systems Certain types of site functionality can be accomplished through either open-source or proprietary solutions, and it can be hard to distinguish the difference based on descriptions you read on vendor websites. We have a current client in the technology space who used a hosted solution, i.e. a proprietary piece of software that sits on the vendor's server, for their ecommerce shopping cart. When they wanted to add the ability for customers to custom-configure a product and purchase it, they found their solution didn't allow for that. The upshot? We're completely re-building their site so customers can seamlessly purchase both standard and customized products through one cart, and see their extended warranty options at the time of purchase. Though it means an initial upfront investment for our client, the new site will more than pay for itself in a short period of time.