Volume 34, Number 2, February 1999



How to Develop an Effective Website

by Eric Asbery

These days I find that most people are still in a state of wonderment about the web and what it really can accomplish for them as both individuals and as companies. Most people I encounter seem to be more preoccupied with the Y2K bug than whether or not they should get a website. Still, I gather that the question on most people’s minds is, "should I have a website at all." That answer can only lie in your company’s own marketing strategy.

For instance, a company that has one location in the middle of Smalltown, USA, would probably need not bother with a worldwide presence because its target audience could be nailed down by a semi-attractive advertisement in the local yellow pages.

However, you may be operating a larger corporation with many locations. More than likely you have already devised a marketing plan that includes some sort of website development. And if you haven’t, you will.

Then, there are those that just want to know, "if I ever decide I want to put a website on the internet, how would I do it effectively?" Once again, it’s all in the marketing.

Let us assume for the purposes of this article that you are on the road to creating a website presence for your company. Marketing a website as effectively as possible so that your audience wants to come back time after time is all about simplicity and a few marketing basics.

Always Make A Good First Impression

Anyone who is even semi-successful in business will tell you that if you don’t get the customer’s attention within the first few moments, his or her consideration of your company may never regain the chance to prove itself. You have to create a presence that says, "Look at me, I take care of my customers."

A website works similar to the yellow pages but with more scrutiny. For instance, I surf the web, I search for someone who does a particular task, I find several and I go with the one that looks the most professional to deal with. A common misconception about a website is that the more flashy, animated and colorful a site looks, the more people pay attention to it. This is not so.

According to various marketing sources, the majority of people who search the internet for goods or services are looking for a simplistic and navigable site that their modem can access quickly, get the desired information and then move on.

Who And What

Essentially, you should craft the very first page of your website to say everything about your company. Describe briefly what your company does and what services it will achieve for the customer. You should also include your phone and fax numbers on that first page, too.

You should keep a consistent navigation to your site, a menu of some sort that remains available to every page so that anyone can get from one page to another without having to retype or use their browser to navigate your site.

That first web page should be very easy on the graphics. A logo, staff photo, a product or action photo should really be the only graphic on that first page. Keeping file sizes to a minimum and never jumbling-up that first page with intense, difficult to load programming or graphics will lead to a more pleasant experience to your potential customer.

Dos and Don’ts

Register your domain name (www.yourname.com). Many times people will randomly type in your name dot com to see if you come up. If you have this registered and you use it for the primary connection to your site, your traffic will improve, not to mention be easy to remember.

Refresh or change small elements of your website from time to time. This lets the customer know you are constantly working to remain in the front lines of your field. You will create a strong company image this way.

The flow of your website should focus on two or three subjects per page. You should never make a flowing one-page site that just keeps scrolling down into infinity. When someone downloads a site like this, it takes forever for the site to transfer over his or her connection and they will move on to another choice.

Search engines like Yahoo, HotBot, etc., search for programming criteria in your web pages. Make sure that whoever is designing your website is aware that company descriptive terms need to be entered within your web pages’ programming so that the search engines can locate you when they perform a search. Subscribing to web-search placement services like www.register-it.com are helpful when it comes to people locating your site.

Creating a Worldwide Billboard

Creating an environment for the potential customer to enjoy is truly the nature of the work here. The longer they stay at your site, the more they will want to get in contact with you. Websites will become the next yellow pages but with a twist. Your worldwide ad can change at your discretion, not each year the phone book comes out. You can literally have a virtual active-billboard that anyone in the world can see, anytime, anywhere. It is up to you how to best use it to promote your company.

Eric Asbery is vice president of Equalizer Industries. He has also assisted companies with website development for more than five years.


Copyright 1999 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.