Web Site ROI & Project Delivery

Generating a return on investment (ROI) from your web site should be an easy affair. Gone are the days of a brochure based web site whereby the information published to the site becomes out of date over night.

To successfully achieve a ROI from your web site the planning phase of the project needs to meet the ongoing business requirements, increased sales targets and offline marketing requirements of your business. Being able to generate reports based on criteria that are identified as being important to the success of your business and web site will begin to demonstrate that the 24 hour online shop front is returning significant value.

Key reporting variables that is often used includes number of page visits, time of visits to the web site (after hours is a good online indicator), subscribers to your eNewsletter, sales leads, online sales (eCommerce), employment requests, number of changes to your web sites per month and so on. By combining these factors plus many more a business can begin to demonstrate web site ROI.

Gone also are the days where a web developer needs to be paid just to perform updates to the web site. By managing your web site instead of paying a web developer a business will increase the effectiveness of the site as well as reduce ongoing costs of running a web site. Web site publishing tools are prolific today however many fail to meet the ongoing business requirements of an organisation. Just being able to edit some areas of your web site will not generate a return on investment alone.

By following a well constructed plan, choosing a company that will aid you in understanding how to leverage the web and being diligent about the tools you purchase to manage your web site will generate a significant returns from your investment.

So many web development businesses find it acceptable to deliver a project over a series of months if at all! When choosing your web developer ensure references are checked and ask the referees the tough questions that may include; how long have other projects take? Did the web site meet your expectations? and finally; Are we purchasing a supported product or freeware or custom solution?

Most web developers cannot demonstrate successful project delivery cycles within 1 month of accepting a deposit; even fewer have a product strategy and virtually no local vendors support products with regular upgrades and feature enhancements. We hear the same stories over and over again.

Once choosing a vendor and deciding to create your interactive web site the next phase of the project is the planning and delivery cycle. This phase will determine the success of the project with communication with your vendor, emarketing best practice and leveraging search engine crawlers.

All business managers that are involved in the interactive web site project have a series of tasks that are essential to the success of a project. By planning the structure of the web page(s) including functional requirements drawn in, creating sitemaps and of course developing content maps that meet best practice sets clear expectations and guidelines. Web designers and developers will then be able to deliver to a set of instructions that will reduce delivery time, reduce the occurrence of unexpected issues and increase the effectiveness of the web site.

The planning phase also will determine search engine marketing results and emarketing effectiveness. Expert advice should be sought to maximise results.

When Do I Start Making Money From My Web Site?

The million dollar question! Of course, the dream is that I put up a web site and within 6 months I’m living in a condo in Southern Spain, rolling high on the profits. I’ve been in web development since 1997, and I haven’t even had a two week vacation in Southern Spain. Either I’ve been cheated or there is something wrong with that model!

The problem with the dream perception is a lack of understanding of web models in 1) how long it takes to build a web site, 2) how long it takes to make a profit from a web site, and 3) how much work it takes to keep both the web site and the profits rolling. I worked for one non-profit with a very viable web site model, but totally unrealistic expectations. One particular board member started asking me, “How are sales?” from the first few weeks after the site “went live.” I always wanted to tell him, “You are asking the wrong question.” One of the questions he should have been asking is, “Now that the web site is up and running, what do we need to do to make a profit?”

One of the results of not understanding the web model timeline was that there were not enough resources allocated to make the site profitable. And, the lack of a plan with specific steps to get there made it very frustrating. The only goal was to make a profit; there were no acknowledged intermediate goals to show steps toward success.

7 Basic Web Models

  1. Very small, static, informational site to market a brick and mortar business.
  2. Very small, static, informational site with some programming (feedback form, newsletter signup, calendar, etc) to market a brick and mortar business.
  3. Small site to market a business without a brick and mortar business.
  4. Website with shopping functions to expand a brick and mortar business.
  5. Website with shopping functions without a brick and mortar business.
  6. Website to generate advertising revenue.
  7. Web services web site (online stock broker, online conference registration, online sales management, …)

An Example: a small, static, informational site to market a brick and mortar business
The benefit for this site is that your business is already known. People have walked into your facility and made purchases. Your website is another way for them to interact with you. You can start web traffic as soon as your site is up, just by making sure your existing customers know about your web site. This is a case where the timeline from beginning to profitability can be relatively short (months).

For many businesses, this is a great place to start. A small site allows you to gather your ideas and try them out without the time and expense of a large site. A larger site can be part of your long term planning.

Planning Steps

  • look at your competitors sites to see what they are doing
  • ask your staff and customers what would be helpful for them on your web site
  • decide what pages you want and what photos and content they should have
  • gather photos and write text
  • learn about the technologies available for you to use for development
  • learn about how the technologies you choose will affect your search engine optimization
  • decide what you would like your web site to look like, a rough sketch on paper will do (notice this is last!)
  • Don’t be surprised if this takes several months!!!

Building

  • find out what human web resources you have available (the people who can build your site or classes for you to do the development)
  • learn the up and down sides to your possibilities and make a choice – remember, you will have to live with this one for a while!
  • start the development process
  • TEST EVERYTHING
  • This could take from an afternoon (if all your photos and text are ready) to several months, depending on schedules and how many changes you want.

Marketing

  • while your web site is in development, write your title and alt tags
  • make a schedule for weekly (preferable) or monthly updates to your web site – forever
  • get at least one new link back to your site from another site each week – forever
  • get good feedback on what your viewers think about your web site – forever
  • People have to find your site before it becomes an asset to your business. Even if you do Planning and Building perfectly, if no one finds your web site, there are no profits from it. This one is a forever process.

Success Points! (have a little toast at the end of each one of these)

  • Plan with list of pages and rough draft of “look and feel” is finished.
  • All materials are gathered
  • First iteration of the site is up and running online
  • Staff and selected user tests have resulted in good feedback (is. changes that need to be done)
  • Feedback changes are finished.
  • 1000 visits in a month
  • 5000 visits in a month
  • 1st sale that can be directly attributed to the web site.
  • etc!

If you don’t recognize the small successes, both you and your staff will become very discouraged, waiting to make it big. Each success point represents a successful outcome.

Revisiting the Benefits of PHP and WordPress Development for Your Business

PHP is at its peak of popularity as a web development language. WordPress is the most popular content management system known. Both of these are known for their simplicity, flexibility and scalability. Businesses find immense comfort in working with either PHP as a core development language, or with a CMS like WordPress that offers a user-friendly interface to work with. It is developed with PHP as a base and can be programmed and customized with this scripting language. Open source software have brought in a great deal of opportunities for customization and businesses all over the world find them very appealing. Here are a few benefits of PHP and WordPress development.

PHP is platform independent

PHP can be run on all the major operating system platforms like Windows, Linux and all Unix flavours as well as Mac OS. WordPress offers businesses with similar kind of flexibility. This enables businesses to use PHP and integrate newer apps into their existing IT infrastructure. There is no need to change too much to include a new web app.

It’s Free and Open Source

Both PHP and WordPress are open source. This means that they can be modified by viewing and editing the source code. This means that Businesses can ask a developer to include all the features that they require and the developer can easily tweak the code for you!

Support for all Major Web Servers

It supports all the major webservers available today. These include Apache, Microsoft IIS, Netscape, personal webserver, iPlanet server, etc. This flexibility is very appealing for businesses who plan changes, and for those who already have the infrastructure set up.

Support for a broad set of databases

It supports a broad set of databases such as MySQL, dBase, IBM DB2, InterBase, FrontBase, ODBC, PostgreSQL, SQLite, etc. This gives it the power to build large and extremely demanding websites that are run by large businesses.

Faster Development

It uses its own memory space and puts lesser load on the servers. It can hence power applications like eCommerce, CRM, CMS and Forums.

Secure

PHP is known for its security and its multiple layers prevent malicious attacks.

Proven history

History proves it all! PHP is one scripting language that powers millions of websites on the web. It has been used to build development frameworks and content management systems and a lot of other flexible development options.

WordPress and PHP are the most sought after web solutions! They are known to be scalable too. Today’s businesses are growing with a very fast rate and they expect their web solutions to scale too. That’s exactly what these two development platforms can offer businesses with!