5 Things Every Small Business Needs to Know About Building a Website

Building a new website is a major undertaking, and if it goes wrong, your business survival could be in danger. Your website is a source — often the most important source — of leads, sales and referrals. It’s how people check you out, learn why you’re good, and communicate with you about their needs. Keeping these five points in mind will help see you through a successful web development project.

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How important is a website for your business?

1. Make sure your web developer knows web design best practices. People read websites differently from the way they read brochures or magazines. Therefore, different design principles are involved in creating web pages that capture reader attention and motivate prospects to make inquiries or place orders. No matter how great you are at what you do, a sloppily organized web page will completely undermine your ability to communicate your value to prospects.

2. Make sure your web developer understands SEO (search engine optimization). Your website needs to communicate with search engines as well as people. High Google rankings ensure people can find the stuff you sell when they’re looking for it. SEO is a complex set of techniques, and if you fail here, you’re ceding the lion’s share of search engine leads to your competitors. Can you afford it?

3. Writing content can become a huge bottleneck. As a writer, I can testify to how often website projects get hung up because content needs to be written. Companies usually underestimate the amount of time — and skill — it takes to crank out scores of pages of content. Sure, I’m biased, but I think it pays many times over to outsource the writing: you’ll get higher quality work, eliminate stress and keep your project timeline intact.

4. Test before you launch. It’s much easier (and less embarrassing) to test your site before the world sees it. Among other things you want to make sure all forms work, pages load and display properly in all types of browsers, and people understand what you’re trying to communicate. Any web developer worth his/her salt will have a documented testing procedure they can share with you before you hire them.

5. Continuously improve after you launch. I don’t know how to put this delicately: throwing up a website and then ignoring it is Internet marketing suicide. Optimizing the performance of your site requires fresh content, testing of new messages and designs, adjustments based on careful review of analytics, and much more. World class websites rarely start out that way: much like your own company, they take hard work and persistence to become successful.

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