Firstly and most importantly get all stakeholders together and consider your audience:
Write the answers to these questions down and refer to them when you are discussing ideas.
Most sites entail users performing two or three core tasks. Over complicating things will frustrate users and will move them on elsewhere. It is better to do a few things well than lots of things badly.
Secondly consider your branding. Will your existing branding work online? Do you have a design brief? You can contract someone to do this for you but if you have strong feelings about how it should look you should discuss and document this now.
Thirdly you should agree on how to measure success. The Internet is here for the long term so decide on what you want to achieve and how you are going to track it. Are you going to measure your success by number of hits, the number of customers acquired through the site or something else altogether?
Fourthly be prepared to adapt the brief with any agency that you choose. Agencies should challenge your brief and bring new ideas to the table. But having your ideas and aspirations on paper will help them to know what you want and how they can help you.
Finally ensure that the decisions taken are accepted internally. A strategy that changes five minutes after it was written is doomed to failure.
How you document your strategy is up to you. But having a document you can refer to will help you keep focus on what you are trying to achieve.
A rough structure that has worked in the past is:
Assigning a budget can be difficult. If you are in any doubt use your initial requirements to gather some quotes. Agencies generally won’t charge for a quote and this will help you understand what you can get for your money.
Finally set a review date for your strategy. Generally a good time to review things is about six months after the launch of a new site and three months after a re-launch. Get your agency involved and assess what has gone well and what could be improved.
If you have been through this process you will give yourself and your business a head start over your competitors, many of whom will not have any strategy at all
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