Many businesses want to have a website and decide to engage a company with the experience of carrying it out.

However, when doing so, companies should have the following sorted out:

  • What are the goals we want to achieve?
  • What is our budget (to achieve these goals)?
  • What will be the impact on our daily operation?

Designing an online strategy should be directly linked to the strategy of a business, an organization or a project.

Writing a clear online strategy, in tune with the organization’s goals, adapted to the available resources and generally accepted by staff and other stakeholders is not easy. But it’s necessary and important. (…) An online strategy or web strategy is a live document and a tool to help individuals and teams decide on how to run the organization’s online activity. With a clear online strategy the team can focus on what’s important for the organization and it’s mission. It’s a framework to plan, decide and evaluate tools and processes.1

Although Osvaldo’s article – from which I took the above excerpts – focuses primarily on the non-profit sector, most of the arguments and checkpoints are still applicable to all sorts of organizations.

Hence, when companies order a website, they should guarantee that the provider is aligned with their goals and strategy. In the absence of a clear strategy, providers should discuss and help the client to clarify general and online goals. Its also important to clarify and define the audiences the client already speaks to, audiences the client needs to reach, key messages and content strategy, promotion strategy, technology, in-house skills needed, methodologies and teamwork.

One important aspect will be to adjust the web strategy to the client’s capacity to deal with some of the outcomes: will the client be able to process the increased number of customers or demand generated by its new presence on the web? It’s no use to get more interested customers if you cannot provide them with a service in time and according to their needs. Collapse of the ability to respond to clients may create a negative rebound effect and even loss of customers.

Much more than a website, the right Internet strategy, well adapted to the clients’ needs and capacity is therefore crucial for business success. Client awareness of such a fact is also the best starting point, for their own sake and for the sake of a better, higher standard web developing industry as a whole.

1 “Online strategy 101 for non-profits”, Notes on Digital Activism, Osvaldo Gago, August 2011
This article was first published at DRI in 2013