Monday, October 15, 2012

Fast-Track to Creating a Website! (And Save Time & Money)

If you are reading this, you probably have or need a website. Today I would like to help you speed up the process of making changes and give you some tips on achieving your desired website results.

Depending on where you are in the process, you may just need some simple content changes, or a complete new website that even you are not 100% sure what it needs to look like. Are you certain what specific functions it should or will need to perform? And worse, maybe your current website is not performing the way you had hoped; the orders are not coming in, the hits did not go up, and you spent a lot of money. :(

It may be time to speak with a web solutions architect.

An architect will take into consideration not only your marketing or sales goals, but design a site that achieves those goals. He/she should be well versed in graphics (aesthetics, and content placement), front-end design (what the page does that you see) and back-end development that supports the data and usage needs of the site. (the part you don't see)

Here are some tips to get the website you really want, and save time and money by speeding up the process.
  1. Content: I have worked on thousands of websites and the number one delay is content. If your copy and photos aren't ready, your website developer will be waiting on you.
  2. Pages/Sections: The structure of your site should be well established. It not only needs to make sense to you, but to first time visitors too! Sitemaps are helpful (but no one uses them!), however; a flow into the site so that it is intuitive is far better. Be sure to define the main sections. IE: Home, About, Store, Contact, Downloads, Press etc. Then document a flow that gets the job done.
  3. Function/Action: An effective website needs to have a purpose. In marketing we call this a "call to action." When visitors come to your site, what do you want them to do? Buy a product, sign up for an email list, or follow you on Twitter? If your action is defined, the site needs to support that action.
  4. Best Practices: Intuitive websites often have a small group of links that make standard information quickly available! They should be part of every website to help first-time/new users, while staying out of the way of experienced users. They are Home, About, Contact (Customer Service), and My Account (sign in) for account based sites. If it a store My Cart is a standard.
  5. Priorities: Your site needs to manage your priorities and objectives. One page (actually 1.24 pages) is probably all the time you get to capture the interest of a user and entice them to read more, or act. Each one us of us visits at least a few sites a week if not a few each day. How long do you stick around? How hard was it to find what you were looking for? Your site needs to manage your calls to action and the process of building customer confidence in your brand to achieve that goal. Page real estate is ESSENTIAL! A good architect can maximize your "hits" to guide users to the desired content/actions by effective use of page real estate and menu system.
If you do your homework before engaging a developer, your site will be cheaper and finished in less time.

Is your website performing the way you want it to?

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