What's in a Website?

What's in a Website?

Having a well designed website is a critical component to achieving maximum results in today's market. More and more business owners are starting to realize that a presence on the Internet is a key component to establishing their brand and enhancing customer loyalty. By adding this tool to your business toolbox, you'll reap rewards and levels of success you weren't expecting.

There are many different ways to approach establishing your web identity as well as a growing number of providers anxious to do the work for you. What's intimidating for many people is knowing what to expect or what to ask about when considering the addition of a website to your arsenal.

Before we discuss what website is, let's discuss what website isn't.

· It isn't overly flashy. A website needs to be visually pleasing, interesting, and have a nice interface, but it's easy to go too far. You don't want an interface that detracts the actual content.

· It isn't stale and boring. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a website shouldn't be full of information that's out of date or be so plain that your customers feel it has nothing to offer to them.

· It's not full of dead links. Linking to other websites, partners, and other information that your visitors will find relevant enhances the value of your site, but it's important to maintain your site regularly to ensure that any links you add are still valid. Visitors become frustrated when pointed to information that no longer exists.

· Your pages aren't named “Untitled Document." A Google search for the phrase "untitled document" will turn up thousands upon thousands of webpages. Each page of your site should have a title and descriptive content – more on that below.

Now, here's what website is.

· It's consistent with your brand. A properly designed website matches and enhances your company's vision and mission, meaning that the colors, logos, and mission statement incorporated into the site should match any marketing materials, print, and advertising pieces you currently employ. When customers to your website, it should be easy for them to identify it with your company.

· It's targeted to your customers. When you build your site you need to keep in mind who your target audience is and approach your design with that in mind. Every industry is a little bit different. If you're going after the general consumer, you'll take a different approach than you would if your audience is a member of a highly specialized and technical industry. Keeping this in mind will ensure that you don't inadvertently confuse or insult your intended customer.

· It's easy to use. The design should be intuitive and drive the visitor to the information most relevant to them. Rather than doling out all of the information on your company, your products, and/or your services in a huge chunk, you should aim to provide information in manageable pieces that invite the reader to move deeper.

· It's easy to find. Your site should be encoded with proper descriptive words which are consistent with the ones used by a customer trying to find you. This is often referred to as SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. Simply put, this is a list of words and phrases that the majority of your potential customers are using when trying to find a company that does what you do. Tools that are incorporated into Google Analytics are examples of ways to determine the most effective words to use. Look at this way, regardless of how well your site is designed, if your customers can't find you online, you won't get the traffic needed to see the benefits of actually having a website.

· Content is well written and relevant. This is the whole reason you have a website. You need to make sure that when customers arrive at your website, they get the information they need, but more importantly, that their visit compels them into action. The best written business websites are an effective sales tool, both independently and as a demonstration utility for your "in the field" sales force. And, if you don't have an "in the field" sales force, it becomes even more critical that your content is professionally written by someone who understands how to use words to their strongest impact.

· It's built to grow with you. Your business will change and evolve over time, making the investment up front to ensure your site is easy to change and update as your business grows will save you a great deal of money in the long run. Many small business owners spend thousands of dollars advertising and branding their product or service line but opt for a simple plug-and-play, limited impact website. A growing number of consumers will visit your website prior to deciding to do business with you. What this means is that you need to look at your web presence is a critical part of your identity and investment in your future success.

Now that we've covered some of the basics, let's get a bit more specific on site structure and content.Your site’s content will be unique to your industry; however, there are certain key elements that almost every website should include. These are basic things that most people are used to seeing when visiting a website and help them determine that they're in the right place.

· Home Page. Think of this as your virtual lobby or storefront – the first thing your customer sees when they come to your site. It should be comfortable, interesting and invite your visitor to explore further. It's also where your mission statement were company motto is listed.

· About Page. Most experts agree that this is a critical component of a successful website. Ideally establishes what your business is all about how long you been in business or, if you're just starting out, how long you've had the relevant skills to be successful in your market. This is your opportunity in two paragraphs or less to convince your visitor that they're in the right place and that you can help them with their needs. This is also the proper place to expand upon your mission statement or company motto.

· Products and/or Services page. This should be a general (or in some cases expanded) listing of what you offer. Whether this ties into a catalog or virtual store will depend upon your industry and how you have chosen to market your products and services.

· Contact Page. You should provide a way for your customer to reach you easily if they desire further information, wish to do business with you or need to discuss an issue or problem. A basic contact page normally includes a contact form that auto forwards any data entered into the form to your chosen e-mail address. It's also good idea to include an e-mail address for those that prefer not to use contact forms as well as relevant phone numbers. Whether you choose to funnel all information through central source or to different departments or key individuals will be based upon your industry.

A website can be a highly effective tool if careful consideration is given to the design. By hiring the right experts to work hand-in-hand with you, you'll end up with a site that you're proud of, helps establish you as a leader in your field, and most importantly, help you get more business.

Daniel Foytik is a freelance copywriter providing services of the type mentioned in this article as well as a myriad of other marketing and writing services through Best Written Solutions.

© 2011, Best Written Solutions, all rights reserved.

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