The definition of a successful website is very simple – great sites are clear, succinct, and fresh. Don’t fall into the trap of creating a site that is unclear, jargon-laden or gimmicky – because this sends a negative message to potential clients and customers about your business. Consider your website as an ongoing commitment that you are communicating to your customers and potential customers that will keep them informed, interested, and coming back.
Two of the most important ways a site communicates is through writing and pictures; these are the true content of a site. The styles, colors, themes, and navigation of your site give it form and function and are also critical to the overall impression visitors have of your site.
To be successful, you must concentrate on both the language and the visual design of your site. In creating your website’s ‘language’, you should carefully consider the objectives of your site. (For example, if your objective is to sell your products you may not want to fill your homepage with several paragraphs about the history of your business unless that helps you sell more). You can do the writing yourself or hire a professional copywriter to do it. When considering the visual design, make an effort to use images, fonts and a navigation that support the site’s writing, instead of distracting from it.
In the online world, websites are never finished for more than a short period of time. Because stale websites discourage visitors who lose interest if they see the same unchanged content each time they visit your site – you should consider your site as a continual work in progress. Keep updating, streamlining and improving. Let your site project your business persona and enthusiasm for the company’s combination of products, services, people, and industry knowledge. Here’s the bottom line: Keep it interesting; keep it fresh.
Now here are some specific answers to your Web Business 101 design questions:
I’m a retailer how often should I update my website?
Since you have a fluid business that depends on stock and inventory, price changes, seasonal sales, etc., as the article above mentioned you should update your site on a daily basis.
I want to add a resource library to my website for my customers. How often should I update it and what can I do with old articles?
Depending on how many white papers and/or abstracts your company publishes, we recommend updating your site with new pieces frequently. Articles, white papers, and abstracts more than a year old should be archived.
I recently changed the look of my marketing collateral. Is it really necessary to change the content of the website?
Yes, yes, yes! Be consistent with all your marketing materials. If you have changed your target audience and the new look caters to that audience’s taste, your website will need to be revitalized to reflect your brand’s new look.
I’m skeptical about the lifespan of blogs and podcasts. Are these tools necessary?
Blogs, podcasts and vidcasts are now becoming essential marketing tools to stay ahead of your competitors. If you don’t want the extra expense in adding a dedicated blog to your website, there are several free blog sites such as Google’s Blogger, WordPress and Typepad that you can easily integrate into your website. For podcasts and vidcasts, you’ll have to invest in more hardware and software for functionality. Do a search on Google to find the best tools for these and do some comparison shopping.
I’m an artist and I like graphics more than copy. How can I effectively communicate my business’s message without becoming too wordy?
Unless your company deals with visual images i.e., photography, film or art, I’m afraid that you’re not going to be able to get away with very few words. Keep in mind that too many images can be distracting to visitors. If you’re business is in the visual arts, for example, add an updated portfolio, which you’ll want to update frequently as well as resume of where your work has been exhibited. You will also want to include copy on your �vision� and what has inspired you. In addition, you might want to include reviews of your exhibits, interviews. Also, to make the site more compelling, consider adding podcasts or interviews of other contemporary artists.
Doesn’t it cost a lot to update websites frequently?
If you’re using an outside web developer, it can quickly add up especially if you’re adding more graphics and need more space. However, if you’ve planned carefully and have estimated how much space you’ll need for the year and do most of the updates internally, expenses can be minimal.