Nine Key Insights- A Path To Make a Great Website
In the rain forests of Washington, an ancient manuscript has been discovered. Within its pages are the nine key insights into website development itself – insights each business owner is predicted to grasp sequentially, one insight then another, as we move towards great websites on the Web.
The First Insight
Starting to wonder why you have a website? You’re not alone: Every smart business owner is starting to look for more quantifiable results from their sites. Up until now you may have been motivated to have a website merely because it was expected. But there is a higher purpose. Start by paying closer attention to your business plan. Cultivating a clear understanding of your business goals will guide you on the path to a meaningful productive web site.
The Second Insight
Set objectives. Observe how your website fits in its proper market context and in the larger Web environment. In the first rush of the Web, we were happy to have any site at all – a simple “brochure ware” site was sufficient. The next wave of websites were preoccupied with “bells and whistles” – we added any gimmick that might help generate a little buzz: java applets, scrolling banners, spinning logos. Now, you are ready to discover your site’s ultimate purpose. Focus on what you have learned to create clear objectives that you want your site to accomplish for your business. In that way, every decision about your site will be guided by understanding and wisdom.
The Third Insight
Know your user. Start to get acquainted with your users. With careful study you can learn to perceive their interests, their technological sophistication, and most importantly, what problems they are hoping to solve. By learning about their needs, you will be in a better position to provide the solution that will secure their business – and provide it in a manner that they will easily and eagerly grasp.
The Fourth Insight
Know your competition. Competition for business underlies most of the energy expended on the Web. Spend time studying your competitors. By understanding what has already been done, you will be able to see your best pathway to success. Rather than trying to “beat” the competition, look for your own unique niche – some way to make your business stand out or fill a void. You might even find synergistic opportunities for mutually profitable joint ventures.
The Fifth Insight
Transcend user frustration with good site structure. Sometimes looking for specific information on the Web is so mystifying that users feel lost and hopeless. Don’t let your site fall into that trap. From previous insights, you know your objectives, your competition and your users. Now is the time to incorporate that knowledge into a structure that provides users with clear pathways to all the information on your site. Seek to find a balance between requiring too many clicks to reach their goal and offering users too many choices in a single page.
The Sixth Insight
Seek a harmonious look and feel that will enhance the user experience and be in alignment with the purpose of the site. Break away from past conceptions about how websites should look. Be guided by your understanding of your own business and the unique characteristics of your customers to create a layout, typographical styles, color palette and graphical elements that will enhance your message and reflect positively on your business values and professionalism.
The Seventh Insight
Create an interactive experience. In the past it was sufficient simply to deliver your company’s information on the web. Now, users expect a more personalized, interactive experience. And indeed, promoting a mutual flow of ideas can both enhance your business success and help meet your customers’ needs. A site that provides regularly updated content, convenient ways to access useful information and personalization encourages users to visit your site often and plants your name firmly in their minds.
The Eighth Insight
Promote your site. As your business cannot exist without customers, your site cannot be of benefit without visitors. You must devote energy to becoming a strong part of the greater pool of sites in your field. Study search engines to learn their secrets, but don’t become addicted to metatags or fall victim to companies that promise to put you in the elusive “top ten” – they will drain energy away from your core business objectives. Network with companies in related businesses. Trade links. Participate in groups – but do so honestly. If you join a group only for the purpose of advertising your services without also giving back, you’ll miss important opportunities to become an integral part of the business community. Ultimately, business – even on the Web – is about relationships. If you treat everyone you meet with open friendliness and respect the circle of energy will come back to you tenfold.
The Ninth Insight
Plan for the future. Nothing stays the same – in life or in business. The Web itself has changed so much in just a few short years. Expect that to continue. Always stay in touch with your customers. Invite their feedback and make note of it. Always keep tabs on your competition and be aware of trends that affect your field. Pay attention to your stats to look for opportunities to improve your site. If a section is very popular, you may want to enhance it. If a section is rarely visited try to determine why. Is it because it is not of interest? Perhaps you can eliminate it. Is it because it is hidden? Perhaps you can highlight it. The point is to continually grow and evolve as you come to a deeper understanding of the previous eight insights.