What makes a good website?

6th October, 2009

A good website takes time and investment. Your expertise will determine how much time and money you would need to invest and what you intend to gain from a website. Many people now have a little knowledge on website design but would benefit from the expertise of a web design company to advise them on how to create and maintain a successful and sustainable web presence.

Be realistic with your expectations based on your level of investment. You cannot hope to have an all singing all dancing site on a low budget.

Know from the outset what you hope to achieve by having a website. You may think the answer is obvious and it is, but how you achieve it?s purpose is perhaps not so obvious.

A website is predominantly a web based sales person... A tool to get you noticed and to sell your products and services to a global audience. But there is one stumbling block. How do you stand out from the crowd and ensure that you maximise the potential of your web presence?

So now you have defined the purpose of your website, do you want immediate call-to-action? Of course you do! Are you going to want potential customers to buy immediately, or call/email for further information? How are you going to encourage the masses to choose you over the many others offering the same products and services.

Here are some tips which you may find invaluable when you set out your ideas for the great website that you are hoping for.

A clean design which is eye catching and functional. Consider the usability ? not by yourself but by others who will be using the site. You may have a wide age span so consider every possible target demographic.

Be precise. - Don?t waffle on about the joys of your product. Your customers generally need to know very little. What is does, and how much it costs is usually all that people are interested in. Obviously the nature of your product or service will define exactly how much detail you need to supply but in general, less is more. If you need to elaborate, make a separate page. Try not to be too technical when explaining your product. Clear, precise and brief explanations are all that are needed.

Be clear. - Is the font clear enough and large enough? Does it take into account people who are colour blind? In a nutshell, design for your target audience, not for yourself.

Be consistent. - Your brand is your most useful tool. Make sure that it appears consistently across your website, showing your logo on each page. The more people view it, the more they will recognise it. That said, don?t overdo it either.

Design to web standards. - Using standards given by The Worldwide Web Consortium will create a functional website that will be accessible on ?multiple platforms and when using multiple browsers. Also be aware of disabled users.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) -. How do you ensure that your ranking places you ahead of your competitors? Quite simply by using the tricks of the trade to optimise your likelihood of being found on a search engine. There is nothing dark or secret about the way you do this, although many web developers will scare you into thinking there is. You really just need to be consistent in your wording. For example: If you were looking for your product or service online, what key words would you type into a search engine? How would you find it? These words are the ones that you need to include in your content. It is worth testing the wording and spellings that people may use too. Enlist the help of friends and family of all ages to test this. The rules on SEO are ever changing so at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you create a consistent, informative site that you can add to at a later date.

Content Management System: - (CMS) If you had a site built on your behalf in the dim and distant past, the chances are that it did not included CMS. CMS allows you, the site owner, to make changes to the content of your site yourself, without paying your web designer to do it for you. Most sites now have inbuilt CMS functionality. Imagine if you had a price list on your website that was constantly changing. Would you really want to pay someone to update this every time it was required? CMS panels are simple to access and use. (A more detailed blog on this subject will follow soon).

Online Marketing: - We have all heard of Facebook and Twitter and these social networking sites are a really good way of engaging your audience. Using social networking does come at a cost. It takes time and effort to maintain contact to ensure that people interact with you and your site. A good site can encourage ?word of mouth? if you link it to good social networks.
Livesearch, Yahoo, Google ads can also work really well if you have a well worded advert giving you a pay-per-click income. All these ways are inexpensive and it is well worth experimenting.

In a nutshell, do your research. Look into what your competitors are doing and more importantly, how they are doing. When creating your site, make sure that it can grow with you. A badly put together site can be costly to change so putting it together well in the first place will save you a lot of heartache later on. Experiment and be brave, but make sure that you are willing to put in the time and effort to make your site work. If all of these things sound too daunting for you, there are always people around that will do it for you!

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