Business S.M.A.R.T. Websites – Part 2
Aren’t all websites good for business? Not necessarily.
Last issue I wrote Part 1 on “business S.M.A.R.T.“ websites and why a well-thought-out and engaging website is important for business success on the web.
“Business S.M.A.R.T.” is a term used to describe websites that meet or exceed best practices and criteria that contribute to success on the web.
The remaining components of S.M.A.R.T. websites are …
A is for Appealing and Accessible
There’s only one thing worse than a site that opens to flashing buttons and links, intrusive popup boxes and unnecessary animation, and that’s a site with no swag at all! Be sure your site design is appropriate to the desired audience and that page layouts are appealing, uncluttered, and easy to read, with a good balance between text and images.
Be sure to optimize all images for quick download. Colour palettes should be easy on the eyes and appropriate to your audience.
A consistent, intuitive navigation makes it easy for visitors to quickly find information they need, but you should always make sure it is equally easy for them to find the information that YOU want them to find, thus converting them from visitors to customers.
Test your site in the most popular web browsers and devices, to ensure a positive experience for the largest possible audience. For example, recently Mac stopped supporting Flash animation in iPad and iPhone devices. If your site contains critical messages that are designed in Flash, this can block out a significant portion of your visitors.
Make the content readable. Use a readable font with good contrast between background and foreground colours. Break large clusters of information into manageable, comprehensible chunks. Identify important images with text titles (text titles can be seen if web graphics are turned off, and they can be read aloud by text to speech readers.)
Web accessibility is a legal requirement for many organizations. Up to 14% of Canadians have disabilities that can impact on their ability to access information. This can include visual impairments, mobility and intellectual challenges. With an aging population, the ability to manipulate a mouse can be an accessibility challenge. All website designs should take into consideration how users will be able to navigate and comprehend the content.
Return on Investment
Your brand new website is launched and paid for! It looks great! So that’s it, right? Wrong! Because your website meets your business needs today, doesn’t mean it will next summer or next year. Investing a little more in the early development stages of your site can ensure that it will be both scalable and sustainable– that it can grow with your business. Consider the many options for content management and site updating.
Be sure to regularly measure your site’s performance, and make adjustments to improve on its performance (setting and measuring website goals was covered in Part 1.)
Target your audience and help them find you.
When you throw a party, you send out invitations, right? Building a great website without a marketing plan is a bit like forgetting to send out those invitations.
If you want traffic on your site, you must be ‘findable’ on search engines, particularly Google. To be found on search engines, optimization is essential. There are many aspects to optimizing a site for search engines – Google considers at least 21 factors. And results can change daily. However, good practices for website construction will give you a good base, and your website designer should be able to guide you through best practices for search engine placement.
Your web marketing plan should also cover how you will announce the launch of the website, strategies for getting visitors to return, and other potential referring sites that could link your website. Also consider offline marketing strategies, such as website address on business & promotional materials, telephone answering message, and Q.R. codes.
I plan on kicking off my 2013 articles with criteria that can make or break a website.