By Sloan McKinney & Janette Speyer ––
For all of the possibilities to explore in the world of web design, 2014 can be a difficult time for smaller businesses. Many find themselves in a state of flux, stuck between a full-fledged requirement to build their business through the Internet, or continuing with the traditional business model. The cost of designing an appealing website is more often a major determining factor for businesses.
The Internet has created a global marketplace where communication is instantaneous, and business potential is endless. Developing a website requires you to take closer look at your company. What is the purpose of your website? Can you afford the daily maintenance? Do you have a budget for design and development?
Your website should tell your company story. Give your website a strong identity. Use navigation to make it easy for your visitors to find what they need. Keep them interested in the website with good content and beautiful images. And of course a responsive website is a must for viewing on any device.
Regardless of the goal of the site, original, engaging content is crucial. The average Internet user has a myriad of sites that they visit every day. They do so because they enjoy the design, the commentary and more importantly, the quality of the content on each respective site. To work your way into someone’s go-to list, you need to develop consistently awesome content, and to do so on a regular basis.
BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s subscription research service, recently concluded that one in five people own a Smartphone, and one in 17 owns a tablet, globally. Translation: a lot of people are using their Smartphone or tablet to browse the Internet. A few years ago, creating a website that was Smartphone or tablet-friendly was a luxury– now it’s a necessity. Viewers will leave the site if the load-time is slow, or if they can’t view everything, wouldn’t you?
Interactivity Builds Relationships
While quality, timely content creates a personality for a website, interaction between the site and its visitors creates a relationship. Using social media to link to stories is a fantastic way to start a discussion, driving more eyes to the story. It’s an informal, easy and more importantly: cheap, way to communicate with your loyal viewers, and they certainly will appreciate the effort. Communicating with your viewers, and creating a community, will allow you to improve the site to fit the likes and dislikes of the visitors, while also garnering more viewers.
When you’re not interacting with visitors, take time to view similar sites and interact with them. It’s a great way to learn what you’re doing right (or wrong), and it also builds relationships, this time with others in the same field. It doesn’t matter if the other websites are rivals or not, having competitors can be good for business. By establishing personal relationships with competitors, both parties can benefit, while spurring a friendly rivalry both can learn from.
It’s a Process
Looking at the website overhaul process as a never ending process can seem daunting, but it will push you to keep improving every aspect. It creates as much of an identity for the site as the content does, while goading you into looking for newer, more efficient ways to run it. Creating relationships with different bloggers and members of the media can also help reinforce your site’s message, as can a periodic series of newsletter updates designed to inform your target audience.