1. Study client & job specificities
Let’s get together and discuss what you want. We can meet for a coffee or talk over the phone while we do an online screen share.
You’ll be able to tell me what your plans are and bounce any ideas around.
2. Appraisal of existing website, IT systems
You might not have a website just yet, or maybe you do, or did, or don’t know how to proceed with the new one.
Many small businesses and self-employed people are at least using email (Google, Yahoo, Hotmail and all the others) or are trying to use Facebook but find the algorithm changes annoying (“we’re getting zero reach!” is an increasingly common concern.)
Let’s talk about what you’ve done so far.
3. Check competition
It’s unlikely you’re the only one selling what you sell, whether it’s a product or service. Competition is a sign of a healthy market, although if you’re ploughing a very particular furrow you may find you’re the only one operating within your niche.
We would discuss any competitors you have, and what they’re doing well and what they’re not doing well.
We can trawl the search engines and social media for any mentions of them, and check their reputation and reviews, and look at their website and see what other websites are linking to it.
There are lots of free online tools available for real-time monitoring of your competitors. Give Talkwalker Alerts a go if you want to monitor mentions of particular keywords used online, such as forums or news articles.
4. Define site goals and overall strategy
Assuming a website is the way to go for you, it’ll be important to have goals and a strategy.
What you don’t want to do is throw up one of those boring “brochure” style websites that have little on it.
In this day and age, we know consumers expect to 360 degree view of your business.
They want to make sure you’re not a fly-by-night scammer, because, sadly, too much of that happens.
Well written content is the cornerstone of your website. This is where you stand out and shine, by setting honest expectations and telling people who you are and what you do.
Pictures of you add personality. So do videos and audio. Sound scary? We’re in the social media age now and you must build trust, rapport, familiarity, reputation and visibility.
5. Legal obligations, data privacy, risk assessment
The Data Protection Act 1998 requires every data controller (eg organisation, sole trader) who is processing personal information to register with the ICO, unless they are exempt. Over half a million organisations are currently registered.
Most of the time, the legal requirement to register was ignored, and data protection obligations were flouted.
GDPR has now come into force and is an upgrade to the DPA. It’s long overdue.
Once you’re registered, it’s strongly advised that you display your registration number in the footer of your website.
If you’re not sure if you need to register with the ICO, you can take the ICO’s quick self-assessment to find out.
I’ll give you a tip: the definition of “processing” is putting a person’s personal data into an electronic format. If you’re sending and receiving emails, taking online payments etc, this is processing.
ICO registration isn’t that expensive, although the cost is annual.
If you run several Companies, you’d need to register separately for each of them with the ICO.
If you’re a sole trader, you register once and this covers all your business activities.
Understanding Your Business Questionnaire
I’ll be using a questionnaire called “Understanding Your Business”.
I want to get quick overview of your business. Your answers will help develop a strategy and course of action.
We can meet to discuss your project and go through these questions and answers together, or we could discuss it over the phone.
I’ll be jotting down the things we talk about and we can add notes and information to this document at any time.
If you want to to know what the questionnaire looks like, you can have a look.
It’s been uploaded in several formats.
The PDF is a universal document that works on most machines and devices, but cannot be edited.
The Microsoft Word document 2003 format will work on all versions of MS Office and can be edited.
The Microsoft Word document 2007 format will work on newer versions of MS Office. It can be edited.
The Apache Open Office format will work with most word processing software packages, including Microsoft. You can download Apache Open Office for free at http://www.openoffice.org/download/