Why have a website?
Using the web has a huge number of advantages over traditional media. Part of this question has to be which of those advantages are relevant to your business. The main advantages are; low cost per view, flexibility, global audience , can create a mass market from a niche, can allow savings in other areas. Understanding what benefits having website can offer your business is key. It will allow you to make the decision of whether to get a website and what to do with it.
Key to any business decision is cost. Website costs can be split into three areas, set-up, maintenance and running costs. The set-up costs depend on what you want to accomplish with your website, and who you get to realise your requirements. A typical website (20ish pages) with no dynamic content should cost less than £1000 GBP, whereas a site with dynamic web applications or linking in with a database could cost up to tens of thousands.
The low cost of a website does count on a number of things being done in the right way. The initial design and planning of a website has to be done in the same way as any other product. Establish the requirements, get the basics right, the framework for the site, ensure that the styling of the site matches the look and feel that your company has. Do your research ensure that you choose a design company that has produced sites that you like.
Maintenance costs vary. At one end it could be bought into the company and performed by anyone with basic computer literacy, or it can be completely outsourced. Using a WYSIWIG html editor such as FrontPage will allow modifications to be made easily by someone with little technical knowledge, but for more complicated changes or additions it is often quicker and cheaper to call back the original design company to do this.
The reasons why the web offers such a low comparative running costs compared to other media are best illustrated on a per page basis, with one page view of a website being equated to one of any other media. With the web the on going costs for a simple site can be very low. Hosting packages start at about £7 GBP pcm and often include a host of additional features. Its usual to have some kind of monthly cap, but it will work out that for your £7 you can get tens of thousands of views. With the Web there are no print runs, postage costs. Also say for example you print off ten thousand brochure's and then attempt to change one small detail, such as a telephone number. The whole run is wasted and has to be written off. This doesn't happen with the web. The change can be made as soon as its discovered and any subsequent views of this material have changed to reflect this. You have control of the documents.
The web is global, there are millions of users already, you're not just limited to markets where you have established a base. Its also multi-lingual, if your site is written in one language never fear there are other websites out there that will translate your work into the native language of the user. With the web a niche market can be transformed into a mass market. People interested in your product will seek you out using search engines, referring their friends, or by a mass of other methods.
So the reasons why every company is attempting to get on the web as quickly as possible are becoming clear. But this is where the next set of mistakes are being made. A poorly thought through structure and design can be as limiting and damaging as none at all (arguably more so). Start with the basic's what do you want to do with your website? What are its objectives?