Creating an effective web presence for yourself, your business, or your favorite organization requires a site to be pretty, functional, and found.
Over the last couple decades, I’ve learned a decent amount about the fundamentals and best practices of building web sites. Given my lack of natural creativity, however, I tend to excel in 2 out of the 3.
Pretty - Web Site Design
While most people consider the creation of a “pretty site” the end goal, designing a true web presence is much more than that. The absolute best web site design for a given person or company is achieved by blending best practices with the unique needs of the organization and its visitors. After all, the true beauty of any marketing communication vehicle is in how well it appeals to and engages with its target audience… not whether the design should adorn the walls of an art museum.
Crafting a web presence that visitors feel is professional, inviting, and easy to use is more than logos and color schemes. Understanding what the useful elements of your site should be, mapping them into the best locations, and intentionally considering how visitors should move through the site are just a few of the steps toward a great web site design.
Functional - Web Site Development
With all of the open source platforms, plugins, and wysiwyg editors available in today’s landscape, many businesses and organizations can put together a very professional web presence without writing a single line of custom code.
While things have gotten drastically easier than they used to be, every company and web site has a different set of requirements. Navigating and evaluating all the options and coming up with a site that does what you want it to do, in a way you can use, is sometimes a bit tricky without some help.
In the arena of E-Commerce, where established business rules often dictate web requirements and procedures, modifications or new functionality can become necessary to fit the needs of your site. Custom calculators and tools are also a good way of differentiating yourself from your competition and adding value for your visitors. Serving more of a visitor’s needs will keep them coming back to your site.
Found - Optimization & Marketing
Digital marketing has many tactics and channels to choose from. Start slow. Don’t try to do everything. Pick a channel or tactic you think will get you in front of your audience. Put your best foot forward by carefully planning and executing that campaign, complete with tracking and metrics. Once you have that channel or tactic relatively under control, move on to the next.
One digital channel that many people still do not understand is organic search engine rankings. Search engines are computer programs written by companies, like Google and Bing, that have taken on the monumental task of cataloging the Internet. By assessing each page of the Internet around hundreds of content factors, site code structure, and overall domain authority, they calculate which individual pages should rank for each and every search query.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of addressing as many of those ranking factors as possible and continually working to improve the content and rankings of a site over time. While there are those who work to find loopholes in the algorithms, the best way to achieve high rankings that are sustainable for the long haul is to invest time in building and improving the content of your site.
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