Web sites should be looked at as real estate on the World Wide Web. It is an investment which could make you money or leave you high and dry. If not created with class and strategy, it may also leave you and your company with a bad reputation. If your content is not valid or placed properly, you may never get your point across. Web sites, even those for strictly informational purposes, gain reputation over time. Companies and web crawlers (also known as spiders for search engines) are constantly monitoring web site activity and generating reports about YOU. These reports contain information such as traffic coming and going, links to and from other web sites, value of your content, content to keyword ratio, download speeds, and your behind the scenes coding.
Just like real estate, a well developed web site with a good history, reputation, and traffic is a gold mine! Domains that were once purchased for $10 are now selling for millions!!
You may be wondering, “How do I create such a website?” The most important thing to do is research and compare website developers before choosing one to work with. Start out your search by visiting Google.com and type in something along the lines of “website designer” or “web site developer”. If you would like to have someone local, be sure to also type in your city and/or state. The nice thing about Google is that they have a ranking system which puts the most visited sites with the best content at the top of their lists.
Take a look at the sites near the top of Google’s list. You will want to compare the layout and designs of the sites. Do you like them? Are they up to date and appealing? Do they have adequate information about the things you are interested in? Is that content written well? A developer’s website is a reflection of their work so make sure you look it over thoroughly. Also see what companies, if any, they are affiliated with and who their clients are. Make sure that their client list consists of multiple industries and are not limited to online businesses. Many developers will create their own online sites which are not owned by outside clients, but they will list them in their portfolio as clients anyway.
Take a look at their portfolio and visit the sites they have created. Analyze them. Make sure they are all up to date and appealing. Make sure the site layout and navigation is easy to use and functional. Take into consideration who their clients are and what industries they serve. Do they seem reputable?
If you find a developer that you like and may be interested in, the next step is to contact them. If you email or leave a message, make a note of their response promptness. Ask them a lot of questions about your ideas and concerns. Make sure they answer you appropriately and knowledgably. Ask questions about their refund policy, how they deal with revisions, what methods of customer service do they offer and what is the response time, do they offer maintenance and back ups, what does the design include, how are they going to drive traffic to your site, and anything else that is important to your project.
Once you have agreed on a price and what the project will entail. Provide the designer with an outline of your needs. Be as detailed and specific as possible. The more detailed you are, the more likely the designer is to get it right the first time. Be sure to confirm the expected date of completion.
After your site is completed and launched, it is up to you to make sure that it grows and builds a reputation for itself. You can do this by driving traffic to your site through pay-per-click programs, affiliate programs, link sharing, paid advertising, and more. Your developer should be able to help you with these things and provide more information about your options.
It is important to use some method of website traffic monitoring. This will give you details and statistics about the visitors to your site and their behavior. The reports in these programs will help you to determine if your site is performing well or if you need to make some adjustments. If you chose a good developer, they will be on top of this already. If you are unhappy with the results, be sure to let your designer know.
A well planned and developed site should last a long time. However, it is important to maintain it, update it with fresh content, monitor your traffic, and eventually give it a make-over. Far too often I see websites forgotten and left to fall behind modern technology and trends. It is a shame because your website is a reflection of you and what you were willing to invest in your business. Nurture your website and it will blossom into a profitable investment.
Jessica Bolin is the owner of Anomaly Media, a multimedia and website development company. She attended college for IT Multimedia and Computer Engineering. Specializing in Flash animation, Jessica has been in the industry since 2004 and is very knowledgable in regards to web development, eCommerce, multimedia, and much more.
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