Three important website tips for your business

Tom Skinner gives tips on managing the design and development of your company website, the face of your brand.

If you have got to the stage where you are even considering what your website is going to look like and how it is going to work, then you are one of a minority of people to have seen their business idea through to this crucial point of fruition.

As you know, how your website works and is received by potential customers is a very important part of how your business as a whole is going to be perceived. More and more so now, how a company is reflected online is directly linked to how the quality of product or service you are offering is perceived. This is a frustrating yet unavoidable reality. The chances of someone paying for your business after having engaged with a bad website is more and more unlikely. The nature of the internet now allows for consumers to compare similar businesses at the click of a mouse or touch of a finger. If a competitor has a better website, then, wrong though they may often be, the consumer will believe their money is more safely spent with that company and that they will receive a superior product or service.

Here are some simple tips that should ensure that doesn’t happen to you:

Understand that web design and web development are separate skills

It is incredibly rare to find someone who is able to design a beautiful website and then turn it into a functional reality. It is no different in essence to more ‘traditional’ product design. Take for example a car company: The lead designer who makes the first sketches for a new car will have very little, if any, involvement with the ultimate manufacturing process. A beautiful-looking website that works badly is just as disappointing for a user as an ugly website that works extremely well. Invest your money correctly early on rather than trying to take short cuts at this crucial stage. Just make sure that if you do decide to use an agency that they can prove to you that they have professional designers as well as professional developers, and that your project will not be left to one ‘Jack-of all-trades’ who is neither excellent at design or development, but distinctly average at both.

Do not build your website in Flash

Flash-based websites can look stunning and provide the user with a truly memorable experience. However, resist the temptation to go down this route. This is for two very simple reasons: 1) Flash can still not be read by Apple devices (which make up a huge proportion of mobile Web users) and 2) Google and other search engines cannot read text contained within Flash. This means that search engines will have no idea what search queries your business should be ranking for, which in turn means that you are shutting the door on the large amount of potential customers who rely on search engines to find products and services.

Use an open-source CMS

CMS stands for Content Management System, and is the part of your website that enables you to make changes to text, images and content without having to get your developer on the end of the phone to help you. Whilst shopping around for suitable web developers, many companies will try and woo you with the promise of a ‘custom-built, bespoke CMS’. In some cases that can be a good thing, but in the early stages of a business it just is not necessary. Indeed, why limit the power and performance of your whole website to a few developers in one office for a huge fee when you can achieve the same level of functionality created by an open source community of thousands of the world’s best developers, for free!?

WordPress does appear to be taking over the world at the moment, and also gets my nod as a recommendation. The other huge benefit of an open-source CMS is the fact that using it doesn’t tie you down with your developer. Often the only reason that a web company tries to sell you a bespoke CMS is because they know perfectly well that no other development company will be able to use it, meaning that unless you are prepared to invest in a brad new website that you have no choice but to keep spending with the only people who know how your website works!

Further reading on websites

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