When you develop your business Web site, do you think about return on investment or how it will look? In the early 1990s, it was easy to ask a system administrator to develop a Web site. Back in those days, the Web site was mostly a brochure, and many didn’t necessarily focus on a call to action, the business brand, or the creative design. The 1990s did not require the sub-specialization needed for today’s successful Web sites.

When engaging in Web site development today, it’s critical to evaluate return on investment. In order to foster results and return on investment for a Web site development project, there are several elements which require consideration. In this discussion, we will not touch on the obvious creative development, but rather emphasize other process elements.

Brand Recognition and Strategy
How will your business name and brand interact with Web site visitors? What will these visitors take away from the Web site; and how will this strategy impact your marketing outside of your Web site later? (A very simple example that tends to be overlooked is your Favorite’s Icon for your brand, since this Icon may carry over into traditional print marketing pieces.)

Research, Strategy and Planning
Every page of your Web site has to be optimized differently and adhere to content relevancy algorithms of the search engines. Understanding how each page will be optimized is important to facilitate Web site marketing. You do not need to guess how to do this, rather use various existing tools that will help you.

Competition and Competitor research helps determine why other Web sites are ranked before yours and how to plan the development accordingly. Also, the ways in which competing Web sites are designed, how they flow and how their Web site metrics are performing will help determine what needs consideration in the planning process.

Subsequently, if every page is optimized differently then each page can become an entry point to your Web site. The impact this has significantly changes the content of each page of your Web site too.

Business and Creative Objective
This objective will determine how to develop the Web site flow. What is the call to action to get the visitor from the entry page to an information page to an action page?

Content Management Systems (CMS)
CMS gives you the ability to manage your Web pages without having know HTML code. It is an interface, in most cases, similar to using Microsoft Word. CMS uses a database and program infrastructure in order to give you this ability to present the Web pages to visitors. To use CMS, a Web site may be prepared using templates and needs to be planned for current and future considerations.

In the above items, you will find that the disciplines needed for Web site development in today’s business environment cover:

1. Brand and Marketing Intelligence
2. Creative Design
3. Technical Programming, Software and Databases
4. Web Site Assembly, Management and Maintenance

We have seen many times where clients expect their Web developers to have the knowledge and experience to plan around Web site that has results. While some developers possess this capability, unfortunately, the time and discipline required to understand these aspects are not necessarily a part of the average Web developer. Sometimes clients and Web developers have a mis-communication or misunderstanding around the expectations of the realistic results that could be better managed with the appropriate skill set.

As we think about business Web site development, we have to realize the project is not only a minimum of 3 months from start to finish, but also plan around the expected results and return on investment. You are no longer developing a brochure, but a business tool that will help generate revenue. Does your Web site perform to your business objectives?