Category Archives: Website

The Work Behind a Workhorse Website

In a previous post we discussed the benefits of what Lion’s Share calls workhorse websites—websites that reduce labor costs and valuable employee time while serving a critical function for your business. Whether you need a website to engage customer service, enable information exchange, deliver software updates or to perform other heavy-lifting tasks, the workhorse lives up to its name and can help generate sales to boot. But not every website development firm is up to this potentially quite complex task. How exactly do you go about creating such a site and what sort of skills do you need in your arsenal?

Unlike billboard websites, workhorse websites require more than just great design and site architecture—though these are important, here, too, of course. Workhorse websites tend to be infinitely more variable in the development process and demand a nimble, technologically savvy team.

Helming that team should be a project manager who can translate requirements between the various languages of designers, coders, stakeholders and end users while keeping the ultimate goal in mind: increased, reliable functionality with an easy-to-use interface.

You also want someone with the experience to recognize what works and what doesn’t; what’s realistic and what’s not. We’ve found that when people try to expand their website beyond the simple “billboard” they often struggle to ground their ideas into attainable goals. You may have a hodgepodge of millions of great ideas, but you can’t build a hodgepodge into a website. As with everything, simplicity rules here. Your site will be most effective with a few key functions. Part of the website’s project management is managing expectations and anticipating complications.

This is one situation where you definitely don’t want a Yes Man. You don’t want a contractor to agree to all of your ideas simply because a bigger site means more work hours and more money. We’ve seen cases like this where the resulting site’s design is confusing, its functions unnecessary and its overall efficiency is subpar. A key quality in a contractor who will help you build your site is the ability to edit, even if it means focusing on just 20 percent of the imagined site. In the end, you will have a stronger product.

Before your workhorse website can do its job, there’s much work to be done. But with the right team in place, you’ll be thrilled with the results.

To learn more about Lion’s Share’s workhorse website services, contact us today.


What’s a Workhorse Website and Do I Need One?

For some businesses, a static website—what we think of as a billboard—suffices. It tells customers the information they need to know. It puts the company on the (cyber) map. It’s a storefront that displays the company brand, but does little else.

These days, however, most small companies need more than just a billboard. They need a website that carries some of the company’s workload—what Lion’s Share calls a “workhorse website.” They might require a working e-commerce site, or a platform to engage and nurture prospects. Perhaps the website needs to serve as a portal for delivering products and services directly to customers or to facilitate information exchanges between employees. Bottom line: Virtually all small businesses are resource-constrained, which means their website should do more than just exist.

I’d like to share two examples of Lion’s Share clients that have benefited from investing in a workhorse website.

One client, a captive insurance group, used its site to deliver information, forms and content to their clients, which consisted of a college system, its 16 member colleges and their respective employees. Clearly, this company already understood the concept and value of a workhorse website. Unfortunately, however, their site was difficult to access and manage. Clients had difficulty navigating the site and couldn’t find specific information they wanted. There was no way to segregate college-specific data, so the company couldn’t use the website as a central repository for all the information their clients needed. As a result, staff spent hours on the phone answering client questions and sending emails with the information clients had tried to find online and couldn’t. Lion’s Share redesigned and rebuilt the site. A new design streamlined and reorganized content so users could easily locate information. New user permissions were established, which meant sensitive information could be added and only authorized people would be able to see it. And a new content management system made it easy for staff to manage the website and keep it up to date.

A second client, a software company, wanted to use its website to deliver new software releases to customers, receive extremely large data files from customers, and host interactive support sessions between customers and the company’s product specialists. The company’s old website had been used to deliver software releases only. Lion’s Share redesigned and rebuilt the website, giving it far greater functionality and making it the focal point for customer support. A new software release mechanism allows the company to provide targeted releases to customers, including different releases for each version of the software. Clients can use a secure upload utility to send massive files of sensitive data directly to the company so they can receive personalized support for specific problems. Clients can also request and receive live support via the site, and, if needed, allow support staff to directly access their computer and fix problems immediately. The result is more responsive, personalized support for every customer. And since clients now initiate support requests through the site, they’re also regularly exposed to information about other software products that the company offers.

Whether it’s an interactive tool or a platform for customer engagement, a workhorse website does a massive amount of work for you, which means that it reduces staffing requirements and makes your company more efficient. And if it’s designed correctly, it will also drive sales—which is exactly the kind of result all small businesses need.

Do you need a workhorse website? To find out more about what your website could be doing for you, contact us today.