This is a very simple note on why we should have a website, and some basic considerations regarding the same.
Many of us embark onto the journey of building a website, without deliberating on why we need to have a website. This results in us having a website, which does not fulfill our need for having one. So, to me, the most important consideration before building a website, is to spend time on considering the reasons for having a website.
The two essential reasons for having a website are –
Credibility and Visibility
Many small companies, who are struggling to generate business from the traditional ways, are led to believe that having a website will solve this problem. Their motivation to have a website, is to generate business. Many website companies lead them to believe that this is possible, and then starts a journey of disappointments. The reality is that your first website is more likely to serve as a credibility building tool. Many people that you already know, or have recently met, will look to “check you out” by going to your website. You thus loose a potential business opportunity, if you do not have a website, or have a poorly made one. Here are a couple of basic way to establish your credibility via your website –
- An appropriate name – yes, an appropriate name is very important for your website. The name should be either same, or a close match of your company name. Many web marketers will recommend having website addresses which are easy to market, or are same as your keywords. Whereas, this may marginally increase your chance of getting some traffic, but it is a big negative in establishing your credibility as a business.
- Clean design – it’s important to have an uncluttered website, where you are communicating the basic essentials of your business, and then providing options to your visitors. There’s some more information on basic design principals later.
- Great content – Content is the key to a great site. It is crucial to have original and good quality content. Many SME’s think it is ok to just copy content from their competitor sites. However, this could be fatal, as search engines today are very smart in recognizing copied content. Your potential clients are no fools either.
- Pictures / Videos – Original photographs, of promoters, team members, office, projects etc. are a great way of establishing credibility. In the age of “intelligent copy paste”, originality goes a long way, and your website audience, begins to trust you, when they see real things rather than just photographs they have seem a dozen times on the internet. Videos, though difficult, are increasingly becoming the most popular way of engaging web audience. With higher bandwidths, it’s very easy to view videos, and a good video is a great way to communicate with your audience.
- Portfolio / Case studies – Information about real projects which have been executed, as well as case studies, on how your company solved some important and real problems again is a very important way to build trust, and establishing your credibility.
Some of the other items that are important constituents for a credible website are –
- Awards – Information about awards that you or your company has won
- Affiliations – Partnerships that you have
- Testimonials – Again, having a picture of the giver is a great way of making the testimonial look more authentic, and there is no better way to establish credibility than a video testimonial
- New / Press coverage – Even if your company does not have press coverage, publishing news about your company, such as your latest project, something credible your company did, some team information can keep your content interesting and engaging
- List of Clients
- Team / People – information about your teams, photographs, team event photographs
- Blog / Knowledge – posting knowledge bytes goes a long way in establishing the technical competence of your company and it’s people
- Easy contact – After all the above, it must be easy to contact you through your website. After all, that is the principal reason, why you have established credibility
- No error – Although it seems very simple, but almost all websites, have simple errors, which create a negative impact on your audience. There are easy to correct, provided you are aware of them, and take care to get them corrected.
Like I said before, your first website, should be typically for establishing credibility, and there are multiple ways to drive traffic to your website, with having to engage a web marketer. Remember, a professional marketer could be extremely expensive, and the cheaper ones are likely to do more harm than benefit. Here are a few easy ways to promote your website –
- Email ids – Yes, it’s as simple as that. Many people do not use their corporate email ids. They continue to use gmail and yahoo its, which are simpler to use, but do not drive traffic to your sites. Believe me, it is the simplest way to drive traffic. You have no idea, how many people look for your website address in your email id, and assume that if you are using a gmail id, then you do not have a website. So, if you have already invested in a website, make sure you start using your corporate email id today. Again, don’t use, generic ids such as info, sales etc. These are sure shot giveaways that you are a one man army.
- Visiting cards – There are a lot of people whom we give our visiting cards to. It is thus important to have your website address on your visiting cards. As mentioned earlier, there are a large number of people who will look for your website address on your cards, and make a mental decision about you based on the information they see there.
- Blog / Newsletter – This is a great way of staying connected with people, and also demonstrating your technical knowledge, and current information about your company. Regular updates are critical. A blog without updates is worst than not having one.
- Email campaigns – Email campaigns are a sure shot way of generating more business. And I am not talking about bulk email campaigns where you pay someone to send out spam messages. Every entrepreneur has 100’s and 100’s of email ids with them, of people they know. All you need to do is, to send them an update about your company. Maybe, it could be an email telling them about your new website. Sit back and wait for the magic to happen.
- Social media – All of you have heard about the power of social media. Of course, you can go out there and hire a social media strategist. The best people to do social media for your company, is yourself, and your staff. So rather than hiring a social media company to manage your campaigns, it is best to pay a social media strategist, a one time fees to train your team members. The power of social media is amazing, and easy to leverage, but of course, after you have done all of the above.
- Professional SEO – All of the above are activities you can do yourself, and you will be amazed at the result you can generate on your own, in generating more business through your website. Once you have saturated the above, you will be ready to hire a professional SEO company, to get you even more business from the online world – but again, it is not cheap.
And the key elements of a successful website –
CONTENT IS KING– Must be – Original, current, error free, well structured, and compact.
DESIGN IS QUEEN – Must be – Balanced in Grid, color, graphics and typography.
And finally some basic things you must take care before launching your website –
Multi browser compatibility – Its important to ensure that your website works well with all popular browsers. The browsers typically used are – Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari and Opera. A professional web developer will ensure that your website works on all these browsers.
Responsive design – With the advent of smart phones, and tablets, the multitude of devices being used is significant. There is a large population of people who barely use their PCs any more, and this number is increasing at a breakneck speed. It is thus critical to have your website visible to all of these people. A responsive design automatically adjust to the device that is being used.
Content Management – If content is king, then it is very important to have current content on your site. Regular updates are thus necessary, and therefore it is important to have a good content management system for your website. WordPress, is the most popular CMS being used in more than 50% of websites world wide.
W3C compatibility – A great way to check for errors on your site, and also to ensure the quality of coding is to check its compatibility with a free checker available at W3C.ORG. This checker checks for basics of coding practices, and also broadly ensures your success with Google’s ranking.
Load times – You may have a great site, but if it takes too long to load, then people will move away. It is thus important to have a fast loading site.
Analytics – And finally, it is important for you to understand analytics, and check your site traffic regularly. Google’s analytics tool is the best to start with, and is free to install. Studying your website traffic, is the best way to know, what works and what does not on your website.