In the market place of today’s world, online presence and good website design are the keys to reaching your customers. Without an online presence you are turning your back on a vast number of customers who are looking for your goods or services, but just don’t know you exist. Your site is the face and back bone of your business and should be carefully planned from day one to ensure it will meet your needs, but more importantly, present a useful and engaging experience for your customers.
During the first primitive decade of the internet, designing and building a website was a huge undertaking. Only computer “geeks” who knew a special coding language and had the expensive software could do the work. The number of designers available were limited, and knowing this, they were able to charge top dollar prices that left the smaller businesses out in the cold. The few designers who were available for work at lower prices usually resulted in clunky marginal work that neither the business owner nor the potential customers were happy with. Even to this day there are sites all over the web that have not updated since their creation. I have even found sites that were written with programs that stopped being produced 6 years ago. These companies came into the internet world late and are simply stones stuck to the bank as the river of internet advances flow by them.
Today the internet has become the largest marketing media, surpassing tv, radio, newspaper ads and magazine ads, leaving businesses who don’t have an online presence at the mercy of their competitors. Now if you think your business is too small for a website, or if you have a website that was developed years ago with outdated software, then you need to seriously reconsider the disadvantage you have placed yourself in. Your business, no matter how small, will get a big boost when you get a website up and running that integrates just a few of the available tools that have been developed for the new Web 2.0 world. Website design has taken on a whole new meaning with the advances that are now obtainable for anyone who has a little time and patience.
No longer are sites just flat pages with information about your goods or services. Websites have evolved into a complete customer service experience that will grab a potential customers attention, provide them the information they want, answer their questions, sale them a service or product and even check back with them to make see how their experience is going. Now there are still some things that should best be handled by our friends the computer “geeks” do to the complex nature of integrating them into our sites, but the vast majority of ways to build and enhance your site has become so user friendly that if you can type you can make a website.
Now even with the ability to create your own site, you should still consider outsourcing such an important task. Good website design takes into consideration many factors that most people just aren’t ready to deal with. Some of the most important things about a website is not even the site itself. Shocking but true. You must take into consideration domain name, keyword list, meta tags, target market, search engine optimization, color schemes, image placement, and user experience.
Now you need to decide what type of site you will build. Should it be static HTML or dynamic Web 2.0 cms? The static HTML sites are sites that have little to no interactivity and basically just display the company information, what they do and how to contact them. It requires knowledge of the programming language and is not user friendly to your customers. The new website design platform is cms based and is based on software such as WordPress. These types of sites are dynamic and create a lot of customer interactivity which does in fact affect your site ranking.
There are literally dozens of things that you should consider before you even begin to think about the design elements of your site. This is why it is so important to contract your site development to a firm that understands your needs and can combine your vision with result driven techniques to website design. Here are just a few of the factors that you should focus on when looking for a quality design firm.
1. Cost –
It is not the company that charges the most that does the better job. Take a look at the difference between what the firms offer for their prices and determine the minimum requirements for your particular situation. A firm that is local to your area will have pricing that is relative to the local market. A firm in New York will charge more for a 10 page site than a firm in Arkansas for the exact same work. Firms base their prices on what the local market will allow.
Custom work – Choose a firm that can custom make your site the way to want it to look while still following their own guidelines of what works in internet marketing. Having a site built by a firm that uses a set of ready made templates will cut your costs and your customer awareness. Good for your competitors bad for you.
2. Marketing –
Ask your design firm about their experience with marketing. Designing a site and designing a site that people can find are two different things. You want a firm that understands what is involved with marketing your site after it is completed so you are not struggling to find potential customers.
2. SEO –
All of these factors are based around the simple yet hard to achieve process of people finding your site among the millions of others. Every design firm should have policy in place that determines every aspect of the site based on the need to have your site ranked high in the search engine results. If you build a site without considering the future, you could find that a high rank is impossible to achieve with your current resources.
All of these things, including some key aspects not discussed here, are at the top of the list considerations when it comes to website design. If this seems like too much or you simply do not have the fundamentals to create a successful site, then it is important that you find a firm that can help you. Look for a firm that offers complete services that include all of the things that are necessary to build your site, optimize your site, market your site, track the progress of your site and make changes based on what is happening in the market before your site becomes outdated.
A good firm will be able to guide you from start to finish and help you monitor the results of your efforts.