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Top 10 website do’s and don’ts

Rishad Sukhia, a director and co‐founder of Australian digital agency Brightlabs, is still regularly surprised how little time, effort and thought go into many company websites.

Website Design for Customers“Your website is the face of your business on the most widely used information network on the planet – why not get it right.’’

Rishad and business partner Farhad Meher‐Homji began Brightlabs eight years ago and today it is one of the country’s most highly awarded digital agencies.

“When it comes to your website the main issue is perception. People perceive a website to be a necessary component of their business but there are still questions around the exact value it provides. They also consider a website to be a function of IT rather than marketing,’’ said Farhad.

“These issues with perception create follow on issues with value propositions. As most web firms are not particularly business savvy and don’t have great understanding of strategic business principles, they tend to reinforce this problem and at the same time compete on price as this is the easiest differentiator for them.

“Throw in low barriers to entry creating an overflow of web firms and the value of the work is diminished even further.

“This, in essence, is one of the main issues with the industry which in turn creates a number of average players that don’t know how to compete on much but price. While this creates problems for smarter firms with better intellectual assets, it also provides them with an opportunity to rise above the rest.”

Brightlabs provides strategic online solutions using experts in a number of areas, providing in-depth understanding of business principles and web technology. The results speak from themselves.

Below is Rishad’s top 10 website do’s and don’ts.

1. Ensure your website aligns with the marketing plan of your business
Your website is not just an online brochure outlining your products and services. It is a chance to impress and engage clients, prospects and business partners. When developing your website think of it as a business solution that requires thought, analysis and processes to manage the implementation and track the results just as you would with any other business function. Begin with an online strategy workshop that assesses your target market to work out how you can cater for them online. This is the one way to ensure that your investment will make a return and be an asset to your brand and business. Your website is likely to be one of the first points of contact for a potential customer or client. This is where your brand value begins – the look and feel of what you as a company are like. If a consumer has a pleasant experience they may visit on a regular basis – or better still buy.

2. Look around for a professional provider
Unfortunately low barriers to entry and cookie cutter software has allowed the proliferation of $1,000 website designers. If you’re a business looking for a return on investment, a marketing solution that will assist in your selling process and a lasting solution, invest the time in finding a provider with the credentials, capabilities, proven processes and experience that can take you to the next level.

3. Write unique and high quality content
Just as in the traditional media world, content is king on the internet. It is good for generating traffic (new and repeat), and getting inbound links which is the single most important thing in increasing your website ranking on the search engines.

4. Think of the future (it’s already here!)
Smart phones and mobile devices have made serious headway into the market. Chances are your site is being looked at by a prospect right now on some type of mobile platform. Is your information accessible and easy to read?

5. Don’t expect your website to be an overnight success
The worldwide web does not go by the adage of ‘if you build it, they will come’. Once a website is live you need to continue to work on it and promoting it via the multiple options available. Depending on your website, your online marketing strategy could include:

a.     Blogging

b.     Electronic newsletter campaigns

c.     Search engine optimisation (SEO)

d.     Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

e.     Social media monitoring and optimisation

f.      Sales conversion optimisation.

6. Optimise your website for search engines

For this, your site will require a number of items; optimised code, metadata, well written content, search engine friendly URLs, inbound links, sitemaps and new content added regularly. In order to rank higher in the search engines do not write about who you are, write about what you do and how you do it.

7. Social Media is for all age groups

The Social Media revolution is upon us, and love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. For those of you who are wondering how this can help a business, the concept is simple. Think of Social Media as the power of the spoken word. If someone says something positive about your business to their friend or business partner, that’s not bad. If that person says the same thing at a seminar that’s great. Now give them the tools to say this to a large audience online. The results can be staggering. Sure, this also allows for negativity, but with the right coaching and approach the answers to these types of conversations can become a positive for your business.

You can utilise Social Media tools in various ways; listen in on conversations, provide your customers with real-time support and advice and provide useful content and interesting content to your audience. Remember, whatever the content, just ensure that it is (a) relevant and (b) useful. And if it is delivered with a hint of humour, that’s even better.

In this way your business can interact directly with prospects, consumers and partners, enabling them to feel connected to your business in a much more personal way than just buying your product or service. While no numbers can be easily derived to calculate how this affects sales, the brand equity and goodwill generated is invaluable.

8. Don’t use unconventional navigation styles for your website

Look at the most popular sites that you shop on or browse. Do they have an odd 3-D cube navigational system? Is their navigation arranged in a circle around their logo or some rotating, flashing image? Do menu items bob up and down? No! Stick to your main navigation being across the top or down the left hand side with a ‘Call to Action’ on the right hand side or embedded within the content prompting users to call, register or buy something.

9. Use Flash, but with discretion

If implemented correctly, interactive Flash elements can be a great asset to your website and add a dynamic nature to it. If done incorrectly, a Flash element can reduce page speed and also your page rankings. And please stay away from Flash ‘splash screens’. It’s just another click and a lot of time wasted for your end user/potential client before getting to your content.

10. Don’t publish pages that are ‘Under Construction’ and don’t promote a site that is half finished

You have only once chance to impress a visitor online. If your site (or a page) is not ready, then the rule is simple – Don’t publish the page with a ‘coming soon’ sign. It only frustrates users when they come back to review the site and see the same sentence time and again. If you require a ‘placeholder page’ provide some useful information such as your email address and contact details.

For more information go to www.brightlabs.com.au

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David Olsen

David Olsen

An undercover economist and a not so undercover geek. Politics, business and psychology nerd and anti-bandwagon jumper. Can be found on Twitter: <a href="http://www.twitter.com/DDsD">David Olsen - DDsD</a>

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