Your Business Website: Open Sea or Muddled Puddle?

110712-wonderful-wednesdayWhether it’s reworking your current site or starting from scratch, building a website isn’t as difficult as it used to be. It’s a challenge making a concise and effective website, but the initial investment will directly correlate with your return. As the Women’s Business Development Center(WBDC), the non-profit I work for, continues to redevelop our website, we are learning a great deal about ourselves and what are clients are looking for. Take a look at these 5 tips to creating a better website for you, your business and your visitors.

Make it easy: While the content you have may be amazing, it’s completely irrelevant if no one can find it. Try the “grandma test” to know whether or not your site is easy to navigate. All your content should be available in two clicks or less. Make it easy to digest by keeping the language simple and direct. Often times, companies think they need to use a broad vocabulary filled with technical terms only insiders are familiar with. This may not be the best idea as you never know what parts of your website may pop up for different searches and possibly open doors to new clients. Finally, make it easy to share. When people can easily share an event or a story from your website, they are freely marketing your business.

Keep it current: Nothing is worse than a website with outdated content. If your business is based on trends that change on a regular basis, be prepared to reflect that on your website. While flashy buttons, zingy one liners and the like were trendy for television commercials and snail mail flyers, they just don’t translate to websites. Try to see your website as a window into your store; what do you want people looking through the window to see? Certainly not 1970s shag carpeting, or in the internet world – clipart!

Keep a clear voice throughout: The voice of your website refers to the tone in which your content is written. This doesn’t mean all the content should be written by one person, but the manner of writing should be similar and reflect your business. If you’re a toy distributor, you may have more whimsical wording, whereas a financial consultant maintains a professional tone. On the other side, be comfortable with what your website looks like and how it works. Stay true to your business and brand. On a more basic level, make sure there is continuity throughout with formatting – one font and standard colors for linking, headers, etc.

Put the client first: Often times business owners want to get ALL the information they know about their business and industry out on the website, making it a huge cluster of content. This can be a mistake if the content is not well organized (see tip #1). Make your website a great tease with more to offer once a relationship is developed. Keep it simple, and think like your client.

Listen to the pros: Whether you’re building your site on your own or having someone do it for you, make sure you take the advice of those who have done it before you. If you’re using a developer/design team, take advantage of their expertise and lessons learned from other websites they’ve created. If you’re building the site yourself, be sure to educate yourself on current site trends to have the most logical layout for your site. It’s okay to look around at other sites and pull ideas from them, that’s the beauty of the internet: it’s open source!

What are some of your favorite sites? Why is that?

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