The 5 Essential Rules for a Winning Website Presence
Image: Dell's Official Flickr Page
Are you thinking about putting up a new website for your business? Here are 5 strategies to help you create the perfect website system.
Rule 1: Get a Trusted CMS That Works for You
When you engage the services of a web designer, they will likely build your website on one of three content management system (CMS). The three most popular CMS for web development is Joomla, Wordpress and Drupal.
Which platform is right for your business?
Think of the three different CMS platform like you would, if you were buying a bike. When I think of bikes, there are only three that comes to mind (and they’re my analogy for the three types of CMS’s we’re going to explore).
The Tricycle (Wordpress)
Think of Wordpress like you would a tricycle. A tricycle is typically a childs first bike. It has all the safety features built in, like training wheels, it’s easy to use and anyone can start riding on their first go. Like a tricycle, Wordpress is a great platform if you want a simple, easy to use website. Wordpress was orginally built as a blogging platform, and it still works great for what it’s built for. So as long as your website is fairly simple, and all you want to concentrate on is publishing blogs, Wordpress will be perfect for what you need.
The Ten-speed cycle (Joomla)
You may initially find that there’s a steeper learning curve to using Joomla than Wordpress. That’s because Joomla is built to be secure, powerful and flexible - it’s the ideal CMS that will grow as your business grows.
Many of the world’s most visited website is powered by Joomla such as Heathrow Airport, MTV, Ikea and the Australian High Court.
With over 7500+ free and paid add-ons in it’s extension library, Joomla can be used as a newsletter platform, for collecting polls and surveys, or as a powerful E-commerce platform.
The latest version of Joomla, Joomla 3, can be viewed in mobiles, tablets and desktop devices.
The Motorcycle (Drupal)
Drupal is the ultimate bikers bike. It is the most flexible of the three CMS’s, but it requires that you have the ability to write code and to be able to run databases. Because Drupal requires some knowledge of coding, it’s more suitable for programmers. It’s not user friendly for the average person, and there is definitely a steep learning curve for new users!
The other question I often get asked is whether to use a commercial template, or to employ a designer and build an original website.
My answer is always to go with a commercial template. Besides the cost, each of the three CMS platform mentioned release updates and security fixes several times a year. A reputable template provider will ensure that there is no conflict with your template and your CMS system.
Rule 2: Minimal Web Design
Studies have shown that the average internet user spends as little as 8 seconds when they first land on your website. In those few seconds, they will decide whether to stay or leave. If you website is complex, wordy or badly designed, expect your visitor to do the later.
Minimal design, as the name suggests, is about creating a website that is simple and easy to use. When you think of minimal design, think of Google search, or the interface of Windows 7 and 8. The design is flat, without any shadows, embossed text or fancy flashing images.
Minimal designs are also great for encouraging a “call-to-action”. If you have only one or two call-to-action element on your website, such as a newsletter subscription, you will likely get a better response from your visitors than if you had several items to choose from.
Rule 3: Customise your Backend
If you have a website built on any of the three content management system, it’s likely that you’ll be overwhelmed when you log in for the first time. Most users only need the ability to write articles and upload pictures. If that’s all you need from your CMS, ask your web developer to customise the backend (or the administrator panel) so that you have access only to the functions that you really need.
If you need access to some other function, such as a newsletter system, ask your web developer to give you access to that feature. By having access only to what you need, you will be able to quickly adapt to your new website system, as well as quickly master the various functions that you will use on a daily basis.
Rule 4: Hire the Services of a Pro
Most people try to cut corners and save money by asking their geeky 12 year old son or daughter to design their website for them. They may even look for someone on Gumtree to design a website for around $99.
Beware! With websites, you get what you pay for. There is a difference in the way a professional web designer approaches their work, to the approach of a hobbyist, or to that of the $99 web designer. A professional web designer will help you to plan your website, and to troubleshoot any issues that come up when your website goes live.
The most important thing to bear in mind is if you will still be able to access the services of your web designer for advise and support after they’ve built your website. Building a website for your business is only the start, you may also want to get found on local search, you may want to market your services or you may want to get listed in trade directories.
Rule 5: Focus on Growing your Content
The most important thing that your website should be used for is put up articles that you write for your visitors. If you want your website to rank well on Google search, you will need to produce original content that will keep your visitors coming back again and again.
Growing your audience starts before your website is built. You need to make sure that your website is setup properly so that your visitors can easily comment, or take action and share your content with their followers. You also need to make sure that Google recognises you as the content author for the articles that you produce.
If you plan for these things and communicate them with your web designer, you will have a functional and highly effective website. You will also be in a better position to produce content that will attract visitors, and that will have a better chance of appearing on the first page of Google.