Regular readers of this blog will know that it makes a point of revisiting the topics that have the greatest impact on smaller business – be that on their finances, productivity or opportunity for growth.
One topic that falls into this category is the number of objectives your website needs to achieve to succeed in a competitive marketplace.
Unfortunately, an undue amount of attention is given over to the appearance of your website, often at the expense of pretty much every other factor that will impact your business.
Whilst a professional appearance is critical to reflect the professionalism of your business, there are at least nine other critical requirements that all go a long way to ensuring you get the best value for money out of what can be a significant investment.
So, in case you missed them, here they are again. But this time I will put them in order of impact on your pocket – though this can vary from business to business.
You may have come across this term before but like many others, may not fully grasp it. Because it’s something that isn’t visible until several months or even years after your website is complete.
The term refers to your website’s ‘future-proofness’. In other words, its ability to grow with your business from a functional point of view. It is best illustrated when you want to add a new feature or functionality to your website – for example a shopping cart or a password protected area.
If your website is planned and established correctly, implementing this functionality should incur only a small cost (the low hundreds at most) or even nothing at all. Because a good web professional will not only forecast the functionality you are likely to need in future, but incorporate it in your new website.
A website with poor maintainability can quickly rack up a small fortune in ongoing development or design costs. For websites, maintainability is the ability of the business operator or their staff to easily add new content to the website, usually text, graphics and documents like PDFs.
A good web professional will be able to design your website in a way that you or your staff will easily be able to add new content without compromising the appearance and navigation of the site.
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A common fault in websites is the lack of attention given to how well the website communicates, or is written. The website may well look fantastic but soon leaves the visitor pining for writing that was clearer, more enticing and at least made an attempt at good spelling and grammar.
In fact, these deficiencies could soon make such a visually appealing website backfire as your business attributes become harder to find and understand.
4. Technical performance and tools
Again, undue emphasis on appearance may compromise the technical performance of your website. Yes, that all singing and dancing introduction may look impressive, had your visitor stuck around to witness it – instead clicking off to something that was more cognizant of their valuable time.
Similarly, website platforms now offer a range of valuable technical tools and features that can be overlooked if there is undue focus on appearance. Integrated content management systems, extranets, form builders, e-commerce capabilities, email marketing systems, etc, are invaluable functionalities that can provide significant benefits to smaller business – provided they know they were available to them.
5. Sign-up magnets
In business, there’s nothing worse than watching a prospect ride off into the sunset never to be heard of again. Not only have you lost that sale, but all future sales as well, because you don’t have their all-important contact information with which to contact them cheaply.
A good website will offer as many sign-up ‘magnets’ as possible, be that for an e-newsletter, a social network connection or an online resource centre, to allow you to create a relationship with them for future sales opportunities.
There is a common tendency for web professionals to create a website that is completely static when it comes to new content. In other words, the site appears the same in 12, 24 months or more as it did when you first visited.
Not only will a good web professional make it easy for you to add new content, but will ensure it is prominent on the all-important front page, keeping it fresh and constantly renewed.
7. Sales closing
Given the boom in self-help that web technology has provided (e.g. travel), it’s increasingly critical that your website take prospects as far through the sales process as the technology will allow. So if you sell products, ensure comprehensive e-commerce capabilities. If you sell services, sell them online or if you can’t, package them in a way that you can. Or at least have a comprehensive briefing form, or better still, chat help.
8. Optimised for search engines
This may come as a shock to you, but there are still a number of web professionals that don’t properly optimise the website for search engines, enabling it to be as prominent as possible on Google, etc.
And when this is raised with them, you may get a response like ‘oh that search stuff? No, we are a creative agency’. You’ll need to get a search nerd to do that for you.
Very strange, but very true.
9. Device compatible
Web browsing from a mobile phone or tablet is one of the key uses of this booming technology. Problem is, your website may not only be difficult to navigate, it may not even appear on some or all of these devices.
The additional cost of making your website ‘responsive’ to devices (particularly mobile, it’s not as critical with wider tablets) may be money well spent, particularly if your market comprises heavy mobile users.
I know. This website game is far more complex than you could have imagined. But at least understanding these factors will go a long way to ensuring your website not only succeeds in attracting enquiries, but gives you the optimal return on investment.
The E Team assists smaller businesses with the gamut of their online requirements from world class websites to assistance with web marketing strategies. Please contact us to find out more.