A basic guide to your first website. Do’s and Dont’s.
Having an internet presence in the form of a website does not automatically mean that your business will get more sales, or even more exposure.
A productive website environment has many moving parts and they all need to be working properly for a website to have any value. Sure, there are some instances where a build-your-own website with online tools may work, if your requirement is very basic but generally things are a lot more complicated than that.
In the same way that having sat in a classroom, being taught by a teacher does not qualify you to be a teacher, even though you may be able to teach something, so too developing, maintaining and growing a website which adds true value to your business, takes some expertise and knowledge of the environment and the pitfalls you may encounter.
So before we look at the rest of this simplistic guide of things to consider when planning your new or upgraded website, it is important to understand that a website is a business tool. Nothing more and nothing less. Just as an axe is a tool for chopping down trees, a website is a tool to help your business generate more income, whether it is by providing information, a service or a product. And, just as an axe needs to be sharpened from time to time to remain an effective tool, so too does your website need constant “sharpening” in the way of adding relevant content, removing obsolete content, ensuring that site security remains tight, that relevant upgrades are done, that framework patches are applied and that disaster management is in place in case the hosting server crashes or is hacked.
Please understand that this is by no means a comprehensive guide. The subject is just too broad and complex to cover in such a short guide. This is just a very short list of things to consider when planning your website.
The design of the website is the framework which everything hangs off. Choosing the right design from the start minimises the chances of any changes being needed as the website is fleshed out around the framework.
For example. Currently one page design is very popular in the world of web design because it offers a rich visual experience but depending on your type of business, this may not be the best for you. Why? Well, consider a business that sells one service. A one page design would probably work very well in this instance as the site locks the viewer into a narrative and channels them to one product. But what if there are many diverse products and lots of information, all of which may not be relative to the viewer? A good example would be a website designed for a school. In such a case a more traditional website would probably be best as it allows the viewer to navigate the site as they wish, finding and interacting only with content which interests them.
The way your site links internally is also important to search engines like Google. Broken and looped links may lead to your site being penalized which will affect your site rankings in search engines.
Responsive design is also very important. Responsive website design is essentially a means of coding the site in such a way that it displays correctly on any devices your customer may be using, whether that device is a traditional desktop or laptop computer, a tablet device or a smart phone.
Some search engines, like Google, penalize websites which are not responsive which means that you may never rank in Google’s search results if your site is not responsive.
So spend time on getting the design right. It mitigates lots of problems further down the line. After all, as the saying goes: “Planning is everything.”
The next most important thing is the content which is on your site. Obvious, you might say, but the truth is that using incorrect keywords in your content, having spelling mistakes and bad grammar on your site can lead to your site never ranking on any search engines or reaching the wrong audience. Search engines use key words defined in your content to match against searches made by users on the search engine. Let’s say you are doing a search on Google for the phrase “You’re bad”. Entering “Your bad” instead of “You’re bad” results in an entirely different result set being displayed.
Also, the quality of your content sends a message to your potential customers. Again, bad grammar and spelling mistakes or badly explained concepts, ideas or products tell your potential customers that your company does not pay attention to detail, for example.
Badly worded content can also send the wrong message to customers. Consider the following sentence: “Thank you! Your donation just helped someone. Get a job.” versus “Thank you! Your donation just helped someone get a job.”
So spend time on your content before the site goes live. Getting your content right, from the start, immediately enhances your company image and gets the correct information across.
Once your website is launched and visible to the world it requires time to maintain the content. If you have a site which sells a product range, the inventory will need to be updated on a regular basis, for example.
If you are providing information and want feedback, then a blog type site would be ideal and would need the content updated on a regular basis.
If it is a scientific data site, then it may require scientific papers to be uploaded on a regular basis.
So – plan for this maintenance before the site is launched. Who will do the updates? How regularly will updates be done? Who will be responsible for writing and updating content?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through search engine results.
Generally this is a process and it takes time. There is no magic formula for getting your page ranked within the top five of ten sites in search engines. If this is important to you then it is best to employ a company that specialises in SEO to advise you.
Now that your website is complete and visible to the world, it’s time to tell the world about it. At this point search engines may know about your site but it is unlikely that your site will show up in a search unless you enter the exact site address.
Luckily this does not have to cost a lot of money. Although one can employ the use of an advertising agency to plan and implement an advertising campaign, using platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn does not have to cost anything except some time.
So, again, this needs to be planned for. Who will upload ads to Facebook and the other platforms? How regularly will ads be published? What type of content is likely to have the most impact? Video? Graphics? Text?
This concludes our short introduction of things to consider when planning a website. We hope you found it informative and that it has given you some ideas.