Recently, my good friend and fellow Digital Mastermind Michael Reynolds, of Spinweb, posted a beautifully written blog entitled Why Your Fancy Website Plan is a Waste of Time. Companies often spend more time thinking about what they want than they do about the broader goals of their business and what their website can achieve. Believe me; we see this situation all the time. We've covered the topic thoroughly, but it deserves revisiting.
It's a clichí© to say that time is money, but phrases become clichí©s only because they are also universal truths. Don't ask a web developer to build something based on a wish list of technical capabilities. Every website project should be approached with the same foresight given to a meticulous business plan. Don't worry about which CMS it's built on, or the private member area. Focus on how much you want to grow your business, solving customer service issues, and increasing leads. Then sit down with your web developer and put together a marketing strategy to accomplish your goals. Your ultimate purpose for designing a new website should be to improve your business performance, not to fill a toy chest with the latest hot gadgets.
As Hubspot so eloquently states, the business goals of your website should be attract strangers, convert visitors, close leads, and delight customers.
Everything you put into your website should be aimed toward achieving those goals. Never say 'I want,' without first completing the statement, 'I need _.'
Let me commend Michael's approach to this subject. You can, and should, read the whole article here.