The days of having a simple 5 page brochure site with your company details and a few pictures are now long gone and its vital to have a better web strategy. Such sites and there are still Millions online not only fail the cardinal test of Web 1.0 (the dot.com crash era) as they simply don’t boost your bottomline, they can greatly have a negative affect and actually damage the brand and reputation of your business on and offline.
A surprisingly large number of businesses both large and small simply don’t get it, and they launch websites that drive customers away, so if you select the wrong designer or developer this could be fatal for your web strategy.
However you can make your new or existing site work and often the most simple and basic strategies are the most effective, and also the most overlooked. Most of the Web 2.0 tools available offer simple ways to make your site dynamic, allowing you to add more content, more easily and without having to ring up your web developer everytime you need to make a simple tweak to your site content.
Technologies like RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds enable you to get your content out there to more people with ease.
At a more basic level what you really need from a website is the 3 F’s: the site must be Fast, Functional and Familiar. User experience is critical for your success on the web as thats all there is!
Most people go onto a website with a specific goal in mind – for example to buy an MP3 player. You have to help them accomplish that. People don’t want to wait for ever to negotiate their way through arty graphics or odd and unfamiliar menus and navigation.
Your site should also function like other major successful sites. So if you invent a new interface of put your menus and buttons in unfamiliar places, users simply won’t bother to use it and leave your site. A user may admire a pretty site once, but they won’t return nor make a purchase. In contrast, people will return to a 3 F site time and time again. Ultimately the 3 F site will generate more repeat traffic and much more business.
Many sites still haven;t taken thsi lesson to heart, even 7 years after some big name online retailers went down the pan. Pretty sites with unnecessary flash interfaces and areas that users never venture into are common. And even with broadband in millions of homes many sites still take forever to download.
The danger of the ready availability and open source web 2.0 tools is that they have brought needless complexity within the reach of everyone and this can result in the temptation to spend a lot of time playing with them. This can be a waste.
Ultimately you need to decide what your objectives are; don’t get carried away with web-specific ambitions. Don’t use something expensive, use things that mesh closely with your business’s objectives instead. Then get a site out there and add functionality as users demand it.
There is no need to overspec your site in the first build, as functionality can be bolted on later: its better to get something simple out there online quickly and build it up over time. All things being equal on a website Google favours and ranks the more mature site in the highest position.