How to get a presence on the web – Part 2

The website

Numerous books are on the market covering all aspects of the website design process and various programming languages. Whether you are planning on doing it all yourself or are hiring a professional for the design and implementation of your website, you will need to answer a number of important questions. Your answers are crucial in determining the design and implementation of the site.

First decide what you want your website to do. Do you want it to inform, educate, entertain or sell? Is it supposed to enhance brand equity, lower costs or improve customer relations? Consider who your audience is, and write accordingly. Refrain from using confusing abbreviations or jargon. Determining who will use your site often goes hand-in-hand with identifying its goals.

Next, do some research. You don’t want to create your Internet strategy in a vacuum. Carefully evaluate the web presence of your competition and look at market trends. You will know when you see a well-designed and smooth functioning site. Take note of it.

Then gather content for the site and determine how it should be organized. Think of the pages you need to have and organize them logically, by importance and by topic. Avoid filling the pages with either too much text or only pictures.

How and how often will the site be updated? Be realistic. Keeping a site up-to-date is often easier said than done. Blogging, for example, is very popular, however, do you really have the time required to keep your blog current?

Then decide what you want your site to look like and how you want to implement it. If your website is an integrated part of your overall marketing plan, then your online logo, colors and brand should be consistent with your existing offline brand (or an update of your offline branding). Stay away from busy graphics. Well-designed, easy-to-read pages are visually attractive. Flash animation, bright colors and over-powering graphics all can off-put readers. Use simple backgrounds and make sure that there is enough contrast between the background and the text color or else the text will be hard to read.

Also be sure that you have avoided plagiarism and observed all copyright laws. Whatever you include on your website must be both legal and ethical.

When implementing your site, use standard HTML and avoid tags, features and plug-ins that are only available to one brand or version of a browser. HTML code is one of the coding languages that generates web pages. It stands for Hypertext Markup Language. Often, WYSIWYG editors are used to generate the code. Whatever method you choose, validate your code and test your site on different platforms and browsers before you launch it. Make sure that all links work, and images appear as you want them to.