Having a Website That Works

December 7, 2012 in , ,

Roll with this here: you are in the middle of a sweltering hot 4th-grade summer and you decide that you need a dog in your life. All your friends have dogs, after all, why shouldn’t you? (This is all going to lead to one great metaphor, promise!) After searching and searching (and some serious pleading), you stumble upon a dog that would fit the bill. Or so you think. This dog, named Samson, was big enough that he wouldn’t yip but small enough that your parents had to oblige.

Then, reality sets in. Your first day together was…different than you imaged. You dreamed of a companion, you see. A dog to play fetch with– a dog to chase around in the park and cuddle up to under the stars. And this dog, this Samson character, was anything but a companion. He went to a bathroom constantly and was painfully slothful and slobbery. He was not exactly what you were dreaming up and after your week-long ‘test-drive’ was over, you told your parents that maybe, just maybe, you weren’t suited to own a small pup. Or any pup. Ever.

The lesson you learned that week is that you didn’t want just any slobbery dog, you wanted your perfect dog.

Now get this (and congratulations for getting through three paragraphs about a hypothetical canine), 75% of small business owners have a Samson for their website. They have a domain name and piece of real estate on the internet…but they positively hate it. Their website simply does not work for them, either functionally or aesthetically. Most of these people probably wish that they would have been granted a week-long test drive period, too.

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So, how do you avoid this? How do you create a perfectly hyper dog that will chase you around the park and lick your face when you get home from work but will calm down to cuddle? How do you not get left with a Samson?

Here are some questions to ask yourself before publishing your site:

  • Is my site too trendy? – Sure, a neon background and blinking text may be cool now (or never…seriously, blinking text?), but how will you feel about it in a year? Five years? Ten? Aim to design a site that will stand the test of time. Strive to keep the layout professional and simple and avoid anything too…loud.
  • Do the graphics on my site enhance my business?—Have you ever been to a site only to be greeted with outdated and irrelevant pictures? It’s an instant turn-off. Avoid any graphics that don’t contribute to your site and business and avoid anything too trendy or slow-loading.
  •  Does my website connect with other sites? – Make sure to test that you are able to send a newsletter, gather stats, or post a forum on your website. Your website should be able to work functionally and help you in doing business. It should be able to connect with other sites like Google Analytics, Twitter, and your email.
  • Does every button work? – Often times businesses forget to test out every part of their website—click on every button and make sure that you are led to a real and working web page. When you click ‘home’, make sure it sends you there!
  • …is this cool? – Ask your friends and ask yourself if you honestly and truly love your website. You want your website to be something that you are proud of. Pretend that it is being shown to 1,000,000 people…now what do you think?

Having a website that works—and that you love—is not a lofty or unrealistic goal. No matter the size of success of your business, you can build a beautiful website that will stand the test of time and not make you cringe every time you log on (blinking text, really?). Have patience while you are building your website and seek other opinion besides your own. Remember that your website should be a tool that helps to enhance your business and properly display your products, mission statement, and professionalism.

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