These days, there is no denying your website is your ‘shop window to the world’. So if you are just starting up in business, or an established company looking to re-vamp an existing site what are the steps you need to take to ensure the design and build of your new site is as smooth as possible and ultimately, the website really works for you? Tessa Denison, creative director and recent winner of highly commended at the Wessex Business Woman of the Year Awards, explains.
1) The Web Spec
Before you talk to any web designers it is critical that you have a clearidea about the purpose and objectives of your new website and come up with a web spec. And this doesn’t need to be complicated. Start by asking yourself some basic questions – for example: how do you want visitors to use the site? Is it designed to be an information portal? Do you want to sell online or do you simply need a web advert or your product or services?
Consider what functionality your target audience would expect from a site. Do you need a search option for example? Will you need to upload your own content? Having a clear idea of what the website will be used for and why will help you develop the right content.
Consideration of good layout and ease of navigation is also essential. From landing on the home page you have an average of just two seconds to impress and encourage your audience to look at the rest of your site. Look at different websites for inspiration and to establish what you like and don’t like and what you believe will work for your organisation.
Developing content for your site is divided into two main areas – firstly web copy and secondly images. If you are not a great copywriter consider outsourcing this to a specialist might be one of the smartest moves you make as it will be one of the most important things ever said about your company. Copy should be crisp. To the point and at the same time include common search phrases to help drive traffic to the site.
Websites often act as an on-line brochure so visual impact is also key. Imagery of the same quality and professional standard that would be used in hard copy marketing collateral should be used as these will not only have a visual impact but reflect the image of the organisation itself. In short, use a professional photographer or use stock imagery which can be bought on line for as little as £50 per image.
5) Optimisation & Monitoring
Only some of your target audience will come directly to your website (through the url address on a business card for example). Others will need to be driven to the site and for this your site will need to appear near the top search engine listings. This can be achieved in a number of ways including key word/key phrase optimisation, inbound linking strategies or dynamic content for example, so ensure this discussion is held with your web designer early on.
Once your site is built it is important to monitor how it is being used. For a small additional fee your web hosting company will be able to provide you with web-statistics illustrating how long visitors stay on each page for example. This allows improvements to be made the site in the future so it is well worth the investment.