The organization of content, design and functionality should be built around a simple balance: What do you want a visitor to your site to do, and what do they want to do? You can answer the first in your business plan; the answer to the second part will come from seeing whether they buy what you're selling. Want to know more? Read "The Elements Of User Experience," by Jesse James Garrett.
With your product online, it's time to help people find your Web site and begin the process of converting visitors to customers.
"Get out and press the flesh at conferences, trade shows, and your local industry organization events," Gerneglia said. "Exchange business cards. Some are better at this than others. If you are not good at networking and meeting others then find a partner that it is and ask to go along with him and learn to network."
Partner with other small companies similar to your own. When your e-mail list gets to a reasonable size, barter a space in your newsletter for space in someone else's list.
Blog about what is going on in your industry and plug your site at the bottom of the blog. Find similar blogs, and comment on the posts with a link back to your own site. Insert yourself into the conversation.
Use a social network such as Facebook to connect with others and network online. Start or join a group.
And, get found by search engines. How? There's a good overview at itbusinessnet.com.
Or, spend money on a Google Adwords campaign using keywords to drive visitors to your site. This can be expensive, however, so it probably should not be your primary source of traffic.
Once you submit your Web site to engines such as Google, "Expect it to take two to six months for them to notice you. Google will assign your Web site a page rank in this time frame. Most importantly, keep adding articles and content to keep the search engine spiders and crawlers coming back," Gerneglia said.
Build Your Business
Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and other social networking sites are easy to use and a great tool for driving Web traffic your way. However, "It's important not to confuse social networking with social commerce," Lambert said. The difference? Social networking can bring your site an audience, but it can't convert that visitor to a customer.
You need to base your Web site's design on what Lambert called "conversion points," features that persuade a visitor to spend money. "Build your model around that," he said.
Build loyalty to your site by developing an e-mail list from visitors who register. Once you have the e-mail address, use it to start your sales process. Craft a series of messages and send them out periodically as a newsletter.
"Visitors might not buy from you right away, but over time some percentage of those that do not opt out of your newsletter or messages convert to buyers," Gerneglia said. Work on your messages until you have a reasonable conversion rate of 3-5 percent.
"Remember, consumers want to be sold. It is your job to remind them of the solutions available and why they should do business with you," Gerneglia said. "Real customer testimonials, quotes on your Web site from satisfied customers, are important to the online sales process. If you rely solely on just hard sales from visitors without follow up marketing you will most likely fail."