Identify the Goals of Your Website
The Old Goals
When you first had a business website put together your goals in doing so may not have been entirely clear. Some companies did it simply because "it was the thing to do" in this new (early 1990's) internet age. They'd purchased a domain name and somehow it just seemed right, once the internet evolved to include the facility called the World Wide Web, to create a web site.
If you were really early in the game (1994) then you could have ended up with a site that was largely text with a few GIF (256 color block graphics) images. Not too much later "continuous tone" JPG graphics were included and your site probably included some fairly fancy graphics. Many design houses spend hours and days (and charge tremendous prices) creating and then carving up fancy graphics into the pieces necessary to create borders and buttons and getting tables and iframes to fit "just so" so that the site looked like the pages of a brochure - at least on one or two browser types.
If your site has been updated in the past 5 years or so it likely has evloved to include "Cascading Style Sheets" (CSS) - but it still looks like a brochure - maybe on more browser types if the webmaster knows there stuff.
The goal of many of these sites was simply to be first a "place-holder" for the domain - and then maybe to augment the physical paper brochures and business cards that marketing produced and salesmen gave out. In many cases it saved printing costs and mailing costs and that pretty much was it. Recently, if the webmaster or in-house web person was on the ball, the key words in the site may have brought some people to the site via search engines.
But that was it! The rest of the interaction with customers and potential customers was done by phone and in person, or possibly by email.
But there's more to the web today.
Only recently have the tools to craft sites that build pages "on the fly" based on scheduled events, external events, viewer input and preferences come down in price (hey, free is pretty good!) and up in capabilities to the point where the average business can afford to use these tools to truly craft a site that is more than just a brochure on the screen.
Now the active site is practical, what exactly is it that you hope to accomplish? What CAN you accomplish? Read on...