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7 Essentials for a Great Website

By Tricia Ryan

Regardless of where you turn to design and market your website investment, there are several key essentials to keep in mind when building an effective web presence. If you want your website to generate action, think about how each component of your website will get your customer through the sales lifecycle – to capture their interest, create desire and generate action.

What are the essentials?

1. Planning

If you’re going to put up a website, only do so because you feel you have something of value to offer the general public.

  • Prepare a mission statement : In a sentence or two, summarize exactly what you are trying accomplish with the site.
  • Map it out:Outline your site in a flow chart. Draw tables, links and graphics, noting where you want to place any animations or multi-media.
  • What’s required: Determine the purpose of each page. A strong outline makes it easier to work with a designer. Or, if you plan on using a do-it-yourself design tool, you’ll have a great place to start.

2. Design

There is a fine line between a well designed site and an over designed site.

  • Attention: Consider colours and graphics that will get your target customer’s attention. What colours represent your company the best? Is your brand bold and colourful or more subdued?
  • Consistency: Keep a similar look and feel throughout the site.
  • Action: Design can help you generate leads, inquiries and land sales. Consider a flash demo of your products or services. Create an online tutorial. Use interactive surveys.
  • Feedback: Create a rough draft of your home page. Use tables and table backgrounds to illustrate the colour of the site, and layout images. Get feedback from friends, family, employees, customers or anyone who is willing to give it a look.

3. Clarity

Keep it simple. Your site has to be organized so that users can easily find the information they are looking for.

  • Use white space:Too much copy or graphics will confuse the user. Use white space to direct the eye where it needs to go.
  • Write to the point: Users should have an idea where to go and what to do on your site as soon as the page loads. Use one word menus, alt text for descriptions and bullet point descriptions.
  • Organized:Keep your links to the left, right, or top of your page, and content in the middle. If it doesn’t seem like there’s enough space to include a link you want, either make the space or lose the link.

4. Content

Your content is the backbone of your Website. If you’re a service or solutions oriented business, content is crucial to explain what you’re selling. But the first step, is planning your content.

  • Mission critical: When you start thinking about what you want to say, reflect on your mission statement. Does it relate back to the mission statement? If your mission statement is to make people laugh, don’t be serious.
  • Provide value: The best writing is usually the most researched. Include statistics, trends or testimonials. Anything that will make the customer want to stay longer on your website is valuable content.
  • Don’t fill ‘er up: Don’t put something online just for the sake of having it. Not everybody will be interested. If a user visits your site, finds a good article, reads it and enjoys it, he/she will likely come back.
  • Easy on the eyes: Keep sentences short or use bullet points.
  • Keep it fresh: Update your site and your content regularly. Don’t put something up and leave it there for months or years. Everything changes, so your content should keep up.

5. Administration

Have you ever run across a site that hasn’t been updated in the past year, or has just launched and is still under construction?

  • Manage Your Updates: Only launch what’s ready to go up and keep your content fresh. Otherwise, you’ll end up with blank pages, broken links and confused customers. Once you start letting go of your site, so will your users.

6. Service and Support

Every person who visits your site is a potential customer. That’s why it’s a good idea to insert an e-mail link somewhere highly visible on the home page.

  • Give them an outlet: Reach out to customers and have them reach you. Use customer surveys, online forms and make customers feel they have a voice.
  • At your service: Provide users with multiple ways to reach you. Take into consideration your service hours and time zones, and allow customers multiple options to inquire about products and services. Consider live support, support downloads, product spec sheets etc.

7. Marketing

Provide potential and current customers with quick and easy access to your business.

  • Search engine optimization: Search engines, online directories, links from other websites and e-mail marketing are an important part of ensuring that a website is found by different types of customers.
  • Drive traffic to your website: Consider marketing vehicles that will drive traffic to your website. When you print business cards, brochures or any other marketing materials, ensure that they have your URL, and create online promotions that will attracts prospects. This ensures the long-term success of a website investment.
  • Track your traffic: Have a means of measuring your marketing efforts. As the saying goes… “you can’t manage what isn’t measured”. Many hosting plans will offer traffic reporting, so you can see the results of your promotional efforts, and see trends.

Author site: Tricia Ryan | View all articles by

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