1. Be inspired. Have a business idea that is meaningful to you and convey this meaning to others with your website. Love what you do - your business, your story, your website - lack of integrity will show even if you work with an experienced design or marketing firm.
2. Have a memorable, easy to spell domain name. The best names are advertisements on their own.
3. Start your website planning with the most important basic pages: what you offer, benefits of your products or services, your story, contact information and testimonials from satisfied clients.
4. Keep it simple. Use organization and navigation structure familiar to your audience. Most people do not have time to figure out how innovative navigation works.
5. Make contact information prominent on your site. Put it on every page, so your prospects can contact you at any point of their visit.
6. Testimonials from customers are especially important for online businesses that never meet their prospects face to face. How else can they trust you?
7. Other "trust-building" elements: professional look and feel, company history, memberships and awards, your guarantee to your customer, contact information including physical address and technical details like installed, working and up-to-date SSL certificates for ecommerce sites.
8. Use Flash sparingly if necessary to convey your message, as a cherry on top. Most users don't have time to watch Flash introductions. Another very important consideration for companies that care about their search engine visibility: search engines cannot read Flash files.
9. Establish multiple ways of interacting with your visitors: have inquiry and feedback forms, FAQ pages, bulletin boards or, better yet, start a blog about your area of expertise.
10. Collect your visitors' contact information – build a database of your current customers and visitors interested in your products or services.
11. Make sure to update your website regularly. Discuss it with your webmaster - should you have a control panel for that or should you have your webmaster do it for you?
12. Make sure your site is search engine friendly and submitted to appropriate directories and search engines. Build links to your site from related sites on the Internet. Every link to you is a vote of approval in the eyes of your visitors and search engines.
13. Be consistent, but flexible in your message - your success depends on how sensitive you are to your customer needs and a constantly changing marketplace.
14. When selecting a web development company, look and their portfolio see how their sites work, call them and see if you like them, check their references, and make sure they offer excellent support. You want to establish a long-term relationship.
15. Host with a reliable web company that keeps your site up and quickly loading, provides you with a top level domain (unique IP address), supports the necessary programming languages, and comes with webmail and site usage statistics.
16. Appreciate your web designers, developers and support people. Don’t forget to thank them for their work – they are human beings, and your appreciation keeps them going.
17. Promote, promote and promote your site - on your business cards, in trade shows, on the weblogs and other media that is likely to be used by your prospective audience.
18. Have reasonable expectations regarding what can be done within your budget. Running an online business is cheap in comparison with traditional ways, but it is still takes time and resources to design your professional-looking website, program and integrate its functionalities, optimize it for search engines, promote and update it.
19. It is not going to be always easy to move forward and to keep your cool. Think big, be patient and maintain a positive attitude. Great success occurs in a series of small steps and takes time.
20. Appreciate your website. Remember, what you appreciate, appreciates. Keep appreciating your customers, your team and your business. Keep loving, improving and appreciating your website.
This article can be freely distributed and reprinted as long as the following information and live link to author’s web site are included:
Zhenya Beck, M.A. in Journalism is founder and a principal of Centauria - Website Design and Development Company - http://www.centauria.com, professional firm specializing in web design and development, corporate identity and logo design, search engine optimization and Internet consulting for start-ups and established businesses.
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