Websites are now generally considered essential for any company in business today. While social media platforms and blog sites are important, websites enable you to own all of your own content, to work on search engine optimization so that you can show up in search results, and offer sales messages together with informative, objective content. Whether your site is an e-commerce site, an informational site, or a combination of the two, establishing a site is an extremely important step in a company’s development. A website is like a store’s front window. It gives visitors a chance, at a glance, to get to know about you and what you do.
All of that being said, there is a lot that can go wrong when developing a new website. As always with these posts, we will just be scratching the surface of what needs to be considered when developing a website for your company.
1. Decide what you want your website to do
What exactly is the purpose of your website? Is it a place your salesforce can visit to gain updates about the company? Is it meant to keep in touch with your existing customers or do you want it to attract new business? The answers to these questions will form the foundation of how you approach the development of your website for the duration of the project. Everyone in the company needs to be on board with the approach before this stage is left behind.
2. Determine whether the website will be directed at “you,” “we,” or “us”
This stage of website development will in part be determined by how you end up with step one. If your website’s purpose is to increase sales, you may find a “we” approach most beneficial. A “we” focused website will emphasize features and benefits, company history, and more. A website intended to increase sales could also use a “you” approach. “How can we help you, our customers?” “How can our products help you?” These websites may offer a lot of additional content like white papers in addition to basic product information.
3. Pick a navigation style that will be user-friendly
It is very common for websites to go live with navigation that is counter-intuitive. This is because after spending weeks or even months working on a project, you can lose track of how a site will be viewed by new eyes. Make sure that you keep your navigation simple. A nav bar that is too complex or a site that is too hard to follow will be left quickly in favor of one that is more efficient.
4. Consider SEO on the front end
It is possible to go into a website after it is live and optimize it for Search Engines. However, this is really doubling your work. The copy you wrote will likely have to be written again with emphasis on keywords. Page titles may need to be altered. The list goes on. Incorporating SEO research into your website on the front end can save time and can get your website moving up the search engine organic results faster.
5. Test. Test. Test.
A year or two ago, the biggest concern about a website was that it might have a flash opening or a lot of flash content throughout, which did not work at all on the popular iPhone. Mobile usage continues to increase steadily. While many people now visit your website on an iPad or other tablets, which can come close to simulating the computer experience, you still need to make sure that your website works effectively across all available devices and platforms. This does not take a long time to do, and the time you do spend is well worth the investment.
Of course, this is just the beginning of the “must do” list when working on a website, but this should be enough to get you thinking. If you have any questions let us know!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/angelaypablo/860181962/ via Creative Commons