Your website is really just a collection of files, much like the files on your personal computer, except a different type of files. The collection of files that make up your website often number in the hundreds or thousands, and make up how your website looks and functions when people visit it. It includes the HTML files, CSS files, images (JPGs, PNGs, etc.), PDF documents, and sometimes videos, music and other digital media that are seen or accessed on a web page, which are downloaded and displayed by a web browser when someone visits your website.
The way the website is developed and coded also determines how the search engines, like Google and Yahoo!, interpret and index it. There are great standards for coding now, which should always be applied, so make sure the company or individual you have build your website is using the latest coding methods and standards. If they’re at least using proper XHTML and CSS, and are proficient with them, then you should be in good shape. This can be difficult to know for sure since you may not know what to look for in example websites, so be sure to get other opinions if you’re unsure. Our sites are always coded properly using XHTML and CSS, because anything else is simply too outdated, and not very search engine friendly.
Like most marketing, when getting your website developed, always apply the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid, no offense!) principle with your site when possible. Glitz and glamour no longer work like they used to on the web. It gets in the way, slows people down, and often times may not even work at all. With trillions of websites online now, and this being the Age of Information, consumers want to find what they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible.
Also, since Flash technology is fading, and because it won’t even function on Apple iPads, iPhones and other Apple devices, it’s best not to use it all. Some very simple Flash elements such as embedded video are OK, but an entire Flash website should really be a no-no. To be completely safe, just avoid it altogether.
Of course, your branding and logo should be front and center on your website to match the rest of your marketing material, keeping everything consistent. This idea may seem obvious, but if you look at a lot of sites out there, you’ll notice many don’t have a logo or any kind of solid branding, which makes them look homemade and pieced together. It doesn’t give it a very professional, polished look or feel. So, don’t forget your logo, and if you don’t have a logo, then you should certainly look at getting one done! That’s something we help our customers with if they need it, since it’s such a vital part of an effective website. You can learn more about our logo package if you’d be interested!
Something else to avoid doing a lot, is putting too many outbound links on your website, for two reasons:
- People will have more chances to leave, which is counter to your main objective and;
- Search engines may consider your website to be a link farm, which are frowned upon, and can drop in rank.
So you can link to customer’s websites, vendors sites, referral partners or preferred resources, and so on, but just limit how much you do from page-to-page.
Lastly, here are some general DOs and DON’Ts as broad rules of thumb (some of these, in rare cases, could be bent):
- Have your logo and branding (colors, etc.)
- Make your navigation very clear and easy
- Add and maintain targeted content geared to your audience
- Include company or organization history and other details
- Incorporate information about your services and products
- Showcase reviews or testimonials
- Inform visitors with FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) in some form
- Build in at least a simple contact form
- Integrate links to your social media profiles, if you have them
- Build in your blog directly into the website
- No dark background
- No Flash
- Don’t copy content that’s not original
- Don’t use frames
- Don’t allow pop-up windows
- No background music or any audio that starts playing automatically
- Don’t use site builders (code is usually terrible and output isn’t great either)
- No broken/dead links
- No intro page
- No scrolling marquees
- No excessive linking
- No ads
Again, these are good rules of thumb to follow, but if you have any questions about your specific website project, we welcome comments or questions! You can leave them here, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or feel free to call us at (865) 238-5600!
In the next article, we’ll discuss a bird’s eye view of ways to market your website online!