If you’re like most people, the excitement of setting up a website will cause you to enthusiastically plunge right into the project.

This approach is why many businesses have failed to do well on the Internet. Their sites were created and put online without much thinking about what they wanted the website to accomplish or how it would accomplish it. Simply put, there were no defined goals for the website or any strategies on how they would be achieved. And even when the first two elements were present, a crucial third element was often missing. Goals and strategies are obviously important but without a continuing commitment to action, many websites just don’t, and can’t, meet expectations.

The process is similar to starting a new business. You need to conduct market research, find out how your website can best serve your target audience, analyze your on-line competition and allocate the necessary resources to monitor progress. By understanding where you stand now, analyzing the possible pitfalls and knowing the potential rewards, you will be able to design a website, or have one designed for you, that meets the expectations of both you and your customers.

If you want repeat visitors and customers, your websites need to be updated regularly. Those who use the Internet for business do so because they see it as an important tool. They want to deal with companies that share their view. They expect to see growth and change on your website. If none is evident, they will assume your business is not growing or changing, or that your company is not committed to its Internet business. By having a vision of what the site will accomplish and how it will grow, and updating it to consistently meet your audience’s needs, your website will enhance your company’s image and generate new business.

Being successful on the Internet is a continuing process. It seems like more work to do things correctly right from the start of the project, but it is definitely less work than making a lot of errors and correcting them later. Companies with vision and commitment may reap short-term gains but they will certainly enjoy long-term rewards from their Internet presence.