Building Business Class Web Sites – 10 Web Site Musts

Building a web site is a VERY important part of your business communication to customers, prospective customers and employees. Your web site is your FACE to the online world. Increasing the FIRST impression someone has about your business, is your web site. I’ve put together 10 things you and your web site MUST have to be a business class web site.

1) Focus on the customer

2) Have a plan

3) Easy to remember name

4) Easy navigation

5) Informative

6) Security

7) Easy customer contact

8) Fresh content

9) Be found

10) Be simple – KIS

Focus on the customer

It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of building your web site that you FORGET ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMERS. However, as you’re building your web site keep them in the fore front of your mind. Focus on the audience that will be using your web site. If it’s an intranet for internal corporate use, then your “customers” are going to be the employees and/or business partners using the web site. If it’s a public web site for your businesses, customers then ensure that their needs are at the top of your priority list.

Build a web site focused on your customers and you can only succeed. Build a web site focused on yourself and you’ll fail.

For example if your business focuses on the needs of seniors it is important to remember that many seniors have poor eye sight, therefore your web site should be designed in a larger font. This is an example of a customer focused web site.

Have a plan

Building a web site is no different than going on a journey. You’re starting somewhere and you want to get somewhere. The only way you are going to get there is with a plan – or road map.

Before you even put the first dot in dot-com sit down and think. Ask yourself:

Why do I want a web site

What is it going to accomplish

What is the benefit to my business and customers?

If you have a plan for your web site you can be sure that you will get a good return on your investment (whether that investment is time or money). Without a plan, building your web site will be a task with no clear direction or goals.

Easy to remember name

How many times have you heard a radio advertisement, or seen a television advertisement for a web site with a hard to remember name.

One huge no-no. DO NOT use hyphens in your web site name, they are too hard to remember to put them in and when saying them to people or even in an ad they get in the way of saying a simple name. A web site with the domain name my-businesss.com should instead be mybusiness.com or something similar.

Another web site name no, no. Let say you’re business is Fuddleston Fisherie – a complicated name to spell. Instead of having your web site be fuddlestonfisherie.com it’s much easier to remember qualityfish.com.

You might wish to consider having two web site names. One can be your long and hard to spell corporate name and one can be a much simpler version.

Both web site addresses can point to the same web site, so you won’t have to update two different web sits.

Easy navigation

Sometimes you visit a web site and it makes you seasick. You regret going to the site. You get so confused your head starts pounding. Is your site like this? I’ve been to web sites, where the “buy” button is almost hidden. Think of going to a physical retail store and the cash register is hidden!

When people visit your web site make sure they can clearly and very easily find the information they need. You don’t want to be too simplistic and have only two web links per page. But you don’t want to be overly complex and make force your web site visitors to use a map just to navigate your web site.

Informative

Building an information rich web site takes a lot of time and energy. But the rewards can be immense. Over time you’ll find that your web site (and your company) will become known as a resource. The next logical progression, if you work at it is that a) customers will want to purchase their goods and services from you – you ARE the expert right? Then the press will call you asking you for your insight and opinion on various topics – free press.

At the very least, no matter if you are selling shoes or bread making books – your business will grow if you have information about each product that can help the shopper in their buying decision.

Security

If you are a business time management coach and your web site has only a few articles about saving time, you don’t have to worry about the security of your web site so much. However, if you’re web site is going to store credit card numbers, personal information, customer lists and etc – you should invest in the security of your web site, commiserate with the value of that data and your business.

If your web server is connected to your corporate network(s), the security of your web site is even that more important. If a hacker can get access to your web server, it’s only a matter of time before they can find a way through it to a computer on your network. It’s best to ensure your web site is NOT connected to your computer network.

Easy customer contact

One of the most frustrating experiences in visiting a web site is not being able to communicate with the web site owners (be it sales, customer service, or etc) about a question (or comment) you have. Do you solicit a customer’s business online, only to slap them in the face by not making contact information clearly visible or making it not available at all?

One of the easiest online contact methods, is to create a web form that will enable your customers to send you a message via your web site. The next step, which many more businesses fail at – is to respond in a timely fashion to your customers.

I’ve gotten emails from some companies saying, “thanks for your message, we’ll be sure to contact you in 24 – 72 hours”. With competitors only a mouse click away it is so important to answer a customer’s question as soon as possible. Preferably within the hour.

Fresh content

No one likes stale bread, cereal or milk – and your web site is not different. When visitors come to your web site, it’s an added bonus when they see fresh information. Show me a web site built in 2001. If that web site has not changed one bit in 2006…I’m not so sure if I want to do business with them. Maybe they, like their web site, are “dead” , or close to it.

If your web site is going to display news of any kind or serve as a “portal” it is even more important that the content you display is fresh – ESPECIALLY if you have dates next to the content!

Fresh content also means that if you are selling a pair of red shoes, customers shouldn’t order the product online only to be emailed and told the product is not available – indicate this on your web site.

Be found

Just because you have a web site does not mean that anyone but you, your web developer and your mother will know about it. Once your web site is built – you’ve got to market it and let the world know about it. YOUR world may be your customers. If you have a service or retail base of existing customers don’t waste money advertising your web site around the world. FIRST market your web site to your current customers and let them know that it’s there and all the things they can do with it. Once that’s done, as necessary, you can then start marketing your web site to new customers and prospects.

Be simple – KIS (Keep It Simple)

Last, but not least, as you build your web site, think with simplicity in mind. Don’t’ try to cram the whole universe and everything about your business into it. Start simply and let your web site evolve based on customer demands and your business growth needs.

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