6 Keys to a Successful Business Website

Have you ever sent out an RFP for a web project and been amazed at the wide range pricing in the proposals that come back? It is not uncommon for us to consult with a company who has received proposals that vary by an order of magnitude or more in price. It’s not that one company is wrong or one is right. It’s simply that there are so many ways to attack a web project and really your results are generally only controlled by how much you invest — as long as you are investing in each of the 6 areas below.

1. Strategy

Web projects move along much faster and have a higher chance of success when they start with a strategy. An initial strategy begins by answering these 3 questions.

  • Define a conversion (what action can visitors to the site take to drive value to your business?)
  • How will visitors arrive at your site?
  • What is the initial goal for visitors and conversions that will make this project a success? This element is critically important when aligning budget with expectant results.

2. Experience and Conversion

In order to convert traffic to the site we need to understand a little visitor psychology. When a visitor comes to your site they are looking to answer the following questions as quickly as possible.

  • Am I in the right place?
  • Can this site help me?
  • What do I do next?

When you target each type of visitor and walk them through the process of conversion by answering the above questions, you have created a successful experience.
When done properly a successful experience on your site generally will require as little thought by the visitor as possible.

3. Accessibility

Now that the experience your visitors will go through has been defined we need to make sure the site is created in a manner that allows it to be viewed and ‘experienced’ by as many visitor types as possible. This includes visitors using …

  • Screen readers for the visually impaired
  • Mobile devices
  • Today’s browsers and future versions of browsers
  • Search Engines

You can read about some legal consequences to not making a site accessible at Findlaw. However most importantly is that when you design for accessibility all 4 groups are covered pretty easily and the search engines will reward you for your efforts.

4. Stickiness and Loyalty

Once you have a visitor to your site how will you keep them coming back? Maybe a visitor isn’t ready to follow through one of your defined conversion processes yet. Are you ready to just let them go? Getting visitors to stay on your site is called stickiness and getting them to come back to your site is called loyalty. In order to attain either of these a site must do as many of the following as possible.

  • Provide a new value to the visitor when they return. Generally this means creating new and relevant on a regular basis. This can be accomplished through article creation, whitepaper publishing, blogs, and online tools that provide value.
  • Get the word out. How will visitors to your site know there is new content? By using RSS feeds and email campaigns, you can make sure your new content is getting the most exposure possible.

5. Analytics and Review

Web analytics is probably one of the most cost effective means to gaining market intelligence your company will ever see. Through an effective and complete web analytics installation and review process, you will gain insight into your visitors habits, patterns and trends. What phrases do they respond most favorably to? Which areas have them asking for more information? Where are they coming from and how are they getting to your site? Which pages are they leaving on? These questions and more will be answered through your analytics software. The information you gain from the analytics will lead you through the process of improving your visitors experiences over time to increase conversion rates.

6. Promotion

When the site goes live you need to have a clearly defined method of promotion. Some companies we work with decide to only promote their site to existing customers as a tool. Some companies decided to take on detailed search engine promotion to drive qualified traffic to the site. When defining how you will promote your site you will make determinations on each of the following

There are many great books on each of these topics and there is a wealth of information on the web. The overall key to a successful website is to set your goals in line with your budget. Companies spend from 10s of thousands to many millions building and promoting their websites online. For your own benefit you need to determine where in that range you fall so that you can spread your budget across each of these six keys to success.

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