At least a few times in your life you've probably muttered the phrase "Just wing it." When you "wing it" you improvise, or do something without proper preparation or time to rehearse.
Appropriate times to wing it may include:
- Running into a prospective client and completely forgetting their name but wanting to close the sale
- Getting a last-minute invitation to the event-of-the-year and not having any time to go home and change
- Realizing it's the end of the month and you haven't posted a blog entry yet
However, one time you do NOT want to wing it is when you are creating your website. Sure, it's as easy as ever to just throw together a website with a couple of clicks and some pocket change, but is that really the best thing to do?
When you wing your design you risk blending into the woodwork of the hundreds of other sites that used that template and color palette. And it will happen. There is nothing wrong with using design templates, but that doesn't mean some thought shouldn't go behind which one you use and how you implement it. When you think about design, it's not just about the look-and-feel (although that is a big part of it) it's also about function. Make sure that your website design will work with the information that will populate it.
If you wing your site structure or sitemap, you risk alienating site visitors by keeping them from the information they seek. What might make sense to you as owner of the information might not really mesh with how your customer thinks. So as you sit down to figure out what needs to go where, make sure you are putting yourself in your customer's shoes.
Never wing your development. Okay, so maybe right now your site only presents information. No pricing, no online sales, just the information someone needs to make the decision to come into your store. Don't set that in stone. Even if you think you will never, ever sell online because your product is too custom, or never need an event calendar because you have no events...realize that anything can happen. You might add off-the-shelf products. Or start hosting regular events. If you build a site without the capacity to expand, you may be asking for headaches down the road. Just have an open mind and build a site with what "could be" in mind so that when it becomes a reality, you have options.
Your commitment to creating (and maintaining) a website that is an accurate reflection of your company and your mission is the key to creating an affective online presence. Once you have a website, devote the time needed to keep it current and active as an integral part of your business. A website can be a very valuable tool as long as you realize it really shouldn't be wung.