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The Purpose-Driven Website

Assuming your website is successful, what will it have accomplished?

This story appears in the June 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

I recently met an who told me her startup needed a . When I asked why, she said, "Because every company has a website, so why should mine be any different?" When I pressed further and asked what end the website would serve, she paused, looking a little puzzled, and said, "Well, I don't know--you tell me."

Create a manageable site with CMS

A CMS (content management system) can significantly simplify the process of editing your website. With CMS, you create and edit web pages online (inside your browser window), just as if you were editing a document in a word processor or a desktop publishing program. Here are a few CMS packages to try:
Movable Type

Build CMS into your website from the very beginning or discuss your CMS options with your website developer. Adding it later can be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

This same entrepreneur never would have imagined launching her startup without a . Yet she had no problem with the idea of starting a website with no in mind. She's not alone. This Field of Dreams mentality of "If you build it, they will come" is pervasive among startups. Unfortunately, it doesn't work.

A website with purpose has significantly more impact than one without it, so the first step is to define its purpose. Is the site intended to inform and educate, sell products or services, raise your company's profile, build community or something else? Think of purpose this way: Assuming your website is successful, what will it have accomplished?

To ensure your website furthers its purpose, develop a plan in the form of an RFP (request for proposal). The RFP describes each area of your future site, how it works and what end it serves. Ideally, your RFP should address at least the following:

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