Website design should begin with the understanding that your website will, more often than not, represent the first impression of your endeavor to your visitors. The inherent appeal of your product or service will weigh heavily on your ability to use imagery to capture the attention of your visitors but you will still need descriptive pertinent content if you hope to be found in search results for what you have to offer. Striking the optimum balance in design, structure and content to gain top rankings in search engines while capturing the visitors attention once they arrive requires the implementation of several elements that have proven effective over time. Our articles on Design and Search Engine Optimization [ SEO ] will help you gain perspective on exactly what that entails.
The structure of your website should be a carefully crafted path that leads your visitors to the ultimate goal it was crated to accomplish. That includes the elements above where you first gain visitors and capture their attention. From there, navigation should be apparent providing access to primary sections of your site or product categories followed by sub-menus and links for topics or specific products and services. It should be a simple as possible to get visitors where you want them to go.
When structuring your website it is important to avoid clutter, not only what is visible to the eye but also what search bots see as well. Where designers might be tempted to us tables to organize a site as in the past it is important to separate content from style with the use of cascading style sheets [CSS] instead. This is becoming increasingly important with smartphones becoming the device of preference for seeking information on the internet. The proper implementation of style sheets allows the detection of the device and serves up the style that best accommodates it.
While a hand crafted site will do best to insure your content reads best by both man and machine there are a number of content management systems that are standards compliant and they are free for you do download and install. These include WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, all three of which are often offered as option installations with many hosting services. All three have add-on or widgets available to accommodate mobile devices. Similarly, if you are looking to market products online, Zen-Cart is another open source feature rich store front application developed specifically for that purpose.
Website structure and optimization are but a part of what can be done to gain rankings in search engine results. Google, for example, give great weight to incoming links from other sites, blog entries, press releases and the like. The quality of the site where the link is from as will as the relevance of the text in the link add to that weight. Maintaining a mailing list for newsletters, product updates or events, or using a blog or RSS feed along with the above are all part of a comprehensive marketing effort to keep traffic coming back to your site.
Social networking continues to gain an ever greater segment of internet traffic in member driven communities. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and MySpace provide communities that can serve as feeds to your site or, in some cases, serve as standalone platforms for your web presence. Each has it’s own nuances that makes it more appropriate than the others for a particular marketing campaign. All are considered in Google’s algorithm in how your site ranks in importance for search results. The preference of video as a medium makes YouTube a very important component in your efforts to reach a wider audience as well.
Paid ad placement on the Internet should be given due consideration in the development of any advertising budget. Internet advertising continues to grow year after year as online purchasing represents a larger percentage of sales. The proliferation of mobile devices enabling consumer searches for products and services with drive these figures for years to come. Industry specific directories reach pertinent targets while general directories such as Yahoo! are included in a variety of search results. Press release through a service such as PRWeb reach news services, social networks and search results. Google Adwords provides tools to hone in on your target market with a wide variety of demographic parameters that limits your expenditures to prospects that would most likely fit your product or service.
Putting It All Together
Putting your website together should start with a comprehensive outline of where you think your traffic might come from and where exactly you want them to go. The more definitive the better so you will have a better picture of what you will have to build to get your visitors from start to finish. For assistance in bringing your website project to life contact us with your basic plans and we will reply with how we can help you get it done.