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Naturally, the fundamental rules for creating good, effective websites may stay in effect for a long time. But the way they are applied may change year by year. When you have your website created, don’t then ignore it and assume it will continue to compete with your competitors’ sites. In addition to adding valuable content to your site on a weekly basis, instruct the company that maintains it to inspect it for timeliness.
Here are some specific suggestions. You can use these when you visit your website to evaluate its effectiveness in comparison to others.
1. Visit the websites of your primary competitors. Pretend you are a customer. See if you are led into a desire for the product/service being sold. Then visit your own. Does your website do at least as good a job of creating desire for the product/service?
2. Look at how bright and attractive your competitors’ sites look. Do the illustrations look contemporary? Are the photos obviously from some online photo store or do they look exclusive to that website? Then look at your own.
3. Check navigational elements on your site. Are the buttons on your website easy to find? Clearly marked? Do they seem to be where they should be – in other words, as soon as you (pretending to be a potential customer of your products) start feeling like your website is selling something you might be interested in, is there a button that enables you to ask for more product information or contact a salesperson?
4. Step back a little and look at the colors and the lettering. Do they give the right impression that matches the kind of product/service you offer? A lawyer’s office should obviously have a more dignified, understated website than one selling children’s clothes.
Another Test to Make of Your Website
One of the primary actions a website should accomplish is to keep a person interested while the product/service information is relayed. There should be no clutter that gets in the way. No confusing navigation that causes a person to get frustrated and leave. If you really want to test your existing website, try this little exercise.
Find a friend who is not also a customer. Sit down with him (or her) and open up your webpage. Ask him to pretend he is in the market for your product and have him navigate through your website, finding out about your product and even approaching the ordering process, if your product can be ordered online. Or alternately, asking for product information if that can be done. NOTE WHERE HE HANGS UP IN THIS PROCESS. Actually write any of these points down. Where does he get confused or frustrated? You’ll need to go over this list with your web maintenance company.
If your website does not pass all these tests that either you or a friend put your site through, it is probably time for an update. Even when the update is done, your review should be an annual event.
The other way to approach this is to establish a schedule with your web maintenance company. Tell them you want to review your site with a designer once a year to ensure it is keeping up with changing standards. This practice will help you maintain a clean look and optimum functionality.