There is a common misconception that building a website is easy. This is perpetuated by the large number of companies offering ‘cut price’ websites and by the template driven offerings of large hosting companies. It’s true that building a website is not as complicated as it once was but I’m not talking about a personal blog here, I’m talking about a high-traffic company web-space.
When it comes to your company’s website, you have to consider investing in the right technology, after all, your website is a direct representation of your business – customers will use your website to verify you and your business.
Here are my top 10 criteria
1. Platform Selection – building a website used to be an arduous, manual task that took many weeks of hand coding. This made implementing change and performing ongoing maintenance all the more difficult. Today we are fortunate to have some fantastic platforms available to aid in the development process. these platforms are generally referred to as CMS – Content Management Systems. Among the most popular platforms are WordPress, Joomla, Drupal (free and open source) and Microsoft’s SharePoint. Which platform you choose will depend on your requirements.
2. Responsive or not – Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll no doubt have noticed that almost everyone has a smart phone – this means people are no longer tethered to a desk when browsing the Internet in search of goods and services. If your website is not mobile-friendly there’s a good chance visitors will skip it! The good news is that building responsive websites is fairly easy with WordPress. There are some things to keep in mind – for example, keeping textural content to a minimum, no need having your visitors scroll through piles or text when you could say it in one sentence.
3. Hosting Provider – selecting a hosting provider is a very important step and it breaks down like this. Your company website needs to be available, responsive and offer high-performance. It’s not reasonable to expect these things from a $5.99 per month shared hosting solution where you and 2,000 other websites are sharing a server. What you need is a managed hosting solution built on a flexible virtualized platform – this will cost many times more than a shared solution, but the cost is really worth it. Consider how much you pay for one smart phone account with your mobile carrier. In addition there are all the back-end support systems that a managed hosting solution provides. It is well documented that Google will not send a lot of search traffic to shared hosting platforms.
4. Design – website design is not just about the look and feel – while this is very important there are a number of other significant issues.
- Contact forms
5. Content – perhaps the most important aspect of your website, content really is King. Many times it happens that clients will have us build out the site with the promise that content will follow – however, this rarely happens according to schedule… That’s why we offer a content service to our customers. Content is not just the text, it’s everything on your site – including:
- Text (posts and pages)
- Social Sharing options
6. SEO – a lot is made of SEO and for good reason. WordPress has some of the best internal and external SEO features and functions I’ve ever seen. While it’s possible to get deeply nuanced about SEO, it breaks down like this; There’s internal end external SEO. Internal SEO is what happens when visitors search your site for content. External SEO is what happens when people search the Internet for content. If these two things seem pretty similar to you, you’d be right. Making sure that your post have meaningful titles is very important – think about what a visitor would type to find an article. For example, the title “Using Press This” has better SEO value than “A little known feature of WordPress”
7. Don’t forget the Analytics – Google have made it super easy to add amazing analytical capabilities to your site. Why is this important? Sure it’s cool to know how many hits your site is getting but it’s much cooler to know entry points, exit points, drop-off rate, dwell times etc. Using this info you can improve your navigation and lead visitors to content you’d like them to see.
8. Meaningful landing pages – Don’t send every visitor to your home page, it’s not always the most useful place. If you’re sending out a e-mailer or newsletter with specific offers or information, make sure the links reference pages or posts that speak directly to the topic.
9. Lead generation & Call to action – ask visitors to sign-up for your newsletter, offer visitors a White Paper in return for registration, offer free training or consultation. Conversion is very important, you may get 2000 visitors a month but if you’re not collecting a single piece of information you’re not doing yourself any favors.
10 . Ongoing Maintenance – I know, it’s a pain right but it has to be done. If you don’t look at some back-end functions from time to time how can you know if everything is hunky-dory under the hood. Check that your back-ups are going through without errors, cleanup those comments that are waiting for review, fix that formatting issue on the home page. But most important, mix things up a little, keep your home page fresh by updating featured posts and by adding new side-bar graphics.