In the age of the internet and easy market access, most business plans include a description or sample of a business website. With the surge of companies enabling even non-technical people to create a website has also come a surge of websites that are poorly designed and difficult to maneuver. The end result is that the website fails to convert website browsers to customers.
Turning ecommerce shoppers into paying customers is the ultimate end goal of the business website that is included in the business plan. The strategic design of the website is the most important aspect of website creation. The strategy is to include the foundational design elements that will attract, retain, and convert prospects into customers.
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Following is a just a sample of the critical elements:
• Logical layout- Website visitors should quickly understand how to navigate the website, find critical brand information, and enjoy an intuitive experience. Though aesthetics are important, they are useless to the business if site visitors abandon the website. Logical layout will also influence search engine rankings because they consider structure and content.
• Navigation strategy – How will website users move from page to page? Is it easy to navigate to the contact information, respond to the call to action, order goods or services, become a member, and so on?
• Integration with social media and mobile technology – It is a connected, mobile world. What is the strategy for integrating the website with social media sites or for making the website useable on a smartphone or tablet computer?
• Key conversion elements – Conversion elements include the overall user experience, functionality, branding, layout, and content.
The conversion friendly website is a well-planned, thoughtful site that entices the site visitors to take action. That action differs from business to business. Businesses may pursue online sales and/or customer leads. Nonprofits may define conversions as donors or supporters. Clubs and associations convert browsers into members. To realize these conversions requires a website that considers organizational mission, brand, and goals.
Instead of jumping into website development, the business owner can develop a Web Development and Design Brief (aka a Website Strategy and Brief). This is a strategic website planning document that considers the critical conversion elements within the context of the organizational brand, goals, targeted market, value proposition, and customer service process. It also considers industry best practices that are based on real world website experiences.
It is true that it is easy to setup a website today by using the software tools made available for free or low cost. However, the website that appears in the business plan needs to demonstrate strategic planning, in-depth market research, and high level understanding of customer behaviors. The best websites are strategic websites and that takes strategic planning.
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