Below is a recap of the presentation I gave to InterCom Kalamazoo at their 2nd Friday Speaker Series for October. This article was originally published on the InterCom Kalamazoo website.

Websites are tools that help us reach our business goals. If a website doesn’t help us reach those goals, why are we spending time and money on them? After 10 years of working with small businesses build successful websites, I’ve put together a 5-step step process for building a successful website that I want to share with you.

1) Who is it for?

This is the first questions I always ask my clients. A tool I’ve come to find quite useful is the buyer personaHaving a clear definition of your target audience will help to focus your website, your copy will be more engaging, the content you publish will be more compelling, and your website will provide stronger results.

2) What are your goals?

Next, you should define your business goals. I recommend the S.M.A.R.T. methodology, because they provide focus, accountability, and naturally require regular evaluation.

3) Build your website

When building, use your buyer personas & your business goals to inform you of the features and content you should include. For example: If you have a goals to increase online sales, your should probably include an e-commerce platform. How you build your site doesn’t really matter, just so long as it’s easy for you to manage and you have access to and control over the content and site. For hosting, I recommend BlueHost, especially if you’re thinking of using WordPress.

4) Measure

I find this to be the most important aspect of having a website that works. The internet has revolutionized marketing, in that it provides us the ability to measure everything! So, let’s be sure we find a platform to measure our goals – Google Analytics is free and and has a plethora of data, but be sure to create custom dashboards to simplify the data you’re looking at.

5) Evaluate and Evolve

Technology evolves. Not too long ago computers took up an entire basement or building floor. Today, we wear them as glasses, watches, or keep them in our pockets (masquerading as phones). Sok, be sure to have a budget for quarterly or yearly updates. You may find as you measure your website that you need to make changes and having some budget is better than none.

To sum up, websites are tools that are meant to help you reach your business goals, they evolve over time as consumer habits change due to technology. Following the 5 steps above you’ll be able to build a website that brings you insights about your consumers and business success.