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If your company does not already have a website, now is the time.

Having a website is essential because so many potential customers are connected to the Internet. Statistics confirm this: by the end of 2017, an estimated 95% of the North American population was connected to the Internet. The volume of print advertising has declined and digital advertising has grown. Your potential customers are looking to the Internet for information.

Developing a website for your company requires careful thought about the words and images that carry your message. There is a temptation to do the design and write the copy yourself, but if this is not your area of expertise, it is better to go to an experienced website designer. If the website looks amateurish, you will too.

Web Address

Get a memorable domain name for your website. A complete URL (Uniform Resource Locator) incorporates your domain name (i.e., the unique identifier of your company’s website) along with other detailed information to create a “web address” that directs a browser to a specific page online called a web page.

Content

An experienced website designer will tell you what information is necessary to present your business. Addresses, contact numbers, hours of operation, etc. are essential, but it is important to keep text to a minimum. Present information in a simple, short, quickly readable style that can be easily scanned and absorbed.

Your type of business determines the content of your web pages.

Your type of business determines what you should put on your web pages. For example, if your business is home renovation, include pictures of the insides and outsides of completed homes.

Contact information should be prominently displayed. Include a link from your address to maps that can easily be downloaded to smartphones.

Make it easy for your website visitors to get prices, place an order, visit the nearest store, or do whatever is necessary to move them toward a sale. The greater the expectations for the website, the more is required in the structure of the design. For instance, placing an order requires a payment method and the additional security necessary to protect the client and your business from hackers. You need to secure your site with an SSL certificate to encrypt the two-way communication between your business and the customer. If you want to be able to accept orders and payment online, be sure the way your site handles or stores customer payment information complies with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) requirements.

Social Media

Determine whether you want to integrate your website into other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Such connections will increase your exposure to various social and age demographics. Make sure the content of your website is always fresh and relevant to your business; without regular updating, the site and the extended platforms will not be able to maintain interest.

More and more smartphones and tablets are using the web. Computer-based access is not mainstream anymore. Statistics demonstrate that individuals who access a website by tablet or smartphone are intent on shopping — now. Thus, your website design must adapt to the screen size used by the visitor; this is called “responsive web design.”

Final Review

Once the website is designed, have it tested by a third party unfamiliar with your company and products or services to critique the website’s ease of use. A few areas to consider include:

  • grammar and spelling
  • cultural or gender sensitivity
  • ease of navigation through the links
  • interactivity with the user
  • correctness of contact numbers, email addresses, business location
  • ease of access from various devices

Hosting

A webhost is a service company that gets your newly designed website onto the Internet and makes it findable. The hosting company will also maintain the website. Good hosting is essential to ensure fast access to your homepage. Slow response time will not only turn potential clients away but will also affect your ranking with search engines. (Many search engines use algorithms to detect loading speed.) If your site access time is slow, the system simply relegates your site to a less desirable ranking. Search engines also use other information in your web pages, including embedded data that is not visible to the end-user, such as meta tags, to help visitors find the content they are looking for. Some of the major search engine providers, such as Google, offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools to help website owners identify potential issues that may result in a lower ranking.

Updating

Website design is not a one-time process. You will need to maintain the website and update it on a regular basis to keep customers interested and to promote new products or services. Your website designer should become familiar with not only your products and services but how much time they need to maintain your site.