Creating a successful, cost-effective online presence is key to all organizations. The process of building a website requires a lot of time, planning, thought, a clear understanding of the objectives and the audience that will be using the website. This attention to detail should be maintained throughout the life of a site to ensure that your presence remains fresh and relevant. The fundamentals of developing and maintaining a successful online presence include
- Planning – Comprehensive planning is important to the success of any website project. Understanding the needs of the different audiences that are being served, setting goals, and anticipating future growth are all essential.
- Ease of Navigation – Clear, well-thought-out navigation creates a highly usable site. It is the single best opportunity to create a good impression with your audience and keep users on your site.
- Aesthetics – A website will serve as the first impression for many potential users. It is therefore important that it is a positive one. This is accomplished through aesthetics (design, images, colors, fonts, etc.) well-positioned text, common-sense structure, and the relevance of the site to the user.
- Writing – Based on usability studies, most people do not read pages online. They scan them. Effective websites read like a conversation, not a printed brochure. However, there are certain websites where people consistently read rather than scan. It is important to identify and plan for this distinction early in any project.
- Content and Interactivity – It is important that visitors can gain a clear understanding of an organization through its website. People need to find what they want without confusion or frustration. All interactive features must be intuitive and reliable.
- Testing – Understanding that people use the Web in different ways, testing ensures that a website is intuitively easy to use and effective. Testing is a simple and inexpensive process that is critical to the success of any online presence.
- Marketing and Promotion – If you don’t promote your site both off and online, they won’t come. Registering your site with search engines, directories, sponsorships, and links on other websites and are just some of the promotion techniques that are important in a successful web strategy. Engaging your users to ensure repeat visits is also key.
- Measuring Success – Success can be measured in many ways including, number of new visits, repeat visits, visitor involvement, increased membership, etc. It is important for an organization to identify those key success criteria prior to the site launch so success can be tracked and goals are tangible.