I'm pretty sure we all know the dangers of having a poor web presence, at least when it comes to running a profitable business. Every company needs a relevant, readable, useful website that customers can get to easily. However, if you don't have the training, it can be a difficult task. We've only got to look at the host of badly designed websites out there to figure out that most of us don't really know what we're doing.
The good news is that careful planning and attention to all the stages of web development can help you sidestep this problem. Let's take a walk through the major web development stages and see what needs to be done at each point.
Before you write a single word of code, you need to know who you're selling to. Take the time to find out who's buying, what they're buying, and what they want out of their products and services. This will give you important information about the overall look and feel of your website, as well as the kinds of information you need to include. It could easily create changes in the way you do business. Be a participant in appropriate forums and blogs to find out who your market is and what they want.
Creating Your USP
The USP, or Unique Selling Point, is what keeps your business from being a clone of all the others offering the same kinds of services or products. To get your site and product to stand out and be noticed, you're going to have to have something they don't. This is one of the reasons why your research is so important. You can now take the information you learned during this part of the process and turn it into your USP. You know what potential customers want. Find a way to give it to them in a way that stands out from the crowd. This is also the phase where you'll decide the keywords and phrases that are going to help your target market find your page.
Building The Website
Now you can move onto to the web development itself. This is a fairly complicated step that's going to require you to spend time organizing the site before you build. You need to write quality, well optimized content for the page, and know where it's going. Don't forget to build a site map, either. This will help the search engines understand how your site is put together, and it can be a huge help in getting better rankings. You'll also need to make sure there's room in your web site structure for expansion in the future. Check out a few guides on web page building to teach you the best practices in this field and help you avoid things that are problematic.
After you've put the website together, you're not done. Even if it's an on topic, beautifully optimized site with lots of great content and something to offer visitors, it's going to need traffic. Search engines could take months to come along and index your new website if you leave it to them. Take the time to find pages that are willing to link back to you, and engage in other practices that search engines look well upon. That'll help you get indexed faster and assist you in moving up the rankings. It can be tempting to leave things the way they are and assume they'll take care of themselves, but it's a bad idea. I can tell you that from experience.
Your pages also need to be tested after deployment. This doesn't just mean you should check all your links and images (though this is vital). It also means playing with your settings, looking for the the best way to structure things, and carefully interpreting the results. That's what it's going to take to get you a great website and a profitable online business.