Myths and facts about getting a new website
Is your website out of date and needing a design tweak or complete overhaul, or is your business new? Whether you’re replacing an old site or getting your first one, here are some myths and facts about getting that new website launched into cyberspace.
Myth: A Facebook Page is all you need for a web presence.
Many small businesses start out with a Facebook Page as their only website. But while a Facebook Page is better than no digital presence at all, it can’t carry the load for you. Consider:
- Not everybody’s on Facebook. In fact, more people are leaving that social medium than ever before due to privacy concerns. Younger people in particular are less likely to use Facebook.
- Facebook’s format is inflexible. There are significant limitations in how you can present your information.
- Facebook has control, not you. Facebook can and does make frequent changes to their terms of service — you’re building your house on borrowed ground.
- Not having a website makes you look small-time. This is not an impression you want to convey.
Fact: A Facebook Page can be a good addition to your digital marketing strategy.
When done well, a Facebook Page is a good way of communicating with some portions of your audience. Consider:
- Widgets can be a good idea for some businesses. Placing a Facebook widget on your website means everyone who visits the site, not just Facebook users, can see your Facebook updates. This can be a good way for businesses with many small updates (such as a restaurant posting lunch specials) to frequently update their site without having to log in.
- Your Facebook Page will come up in searches for your business. What’s more, people will use Facebook to communicate with your business. If you have a Page, make sure someone is monitoring it and answering these inquiries.
Myth: Once you’ve hired a web developer, you can sit back, relax, and wait for the site to be done.
Taking the step to hire someone to create a website for you is significant. But for the project to be completed in a timely manner, your active cooperation is required!
Fact: Working in partnership with your developer will ensure that your site launches ASAP.
To make sure your site goes up quickly, you’ll need to:
- Provide content (or, if the company is writing the site for you, review and edit promptly). By content, we mean both copy and images. Prime Design Solutions finds that holdups in getting a site’s content finalized is the single biggest factor in causing delays in site launches.
- Promptly review and make any changes or suggestions to the comp designs. Having one point of contact for your developer helps the process move more smoothly.
Myth: Everything needs to be on the home page.
It’s tempting to try and crowd all your information on your home page. But unless your site is very brief, this makes it harder, not easier, for your customers to find the information they want.
Fact: Careful organization of your website information will make for a better user experience.
How to organize your website is one of the most important issues in developing your entire site, especially if you have lengthy information to present. Consider:
- Too many menu items on the home page is a mistake. Have you ever been to a website and been utterly lost trying to find the information you want? Generally, the problem is that the designer has cluttered up the main menu with too many options, making everything hard to find. If you have that many different pages, you can solve it using megamenus (like the ones that appear on this site) that categorize the headings and subheadings visually. You can also have menu items that appear on inside pages, rather than in the main menu.
- People don’t read websites – they scan them. You’re better off organizing your content into blocks with clear headlines. If there is technical information that should be included, consider adding that information in sidebars or downloadable PDFs, so that the people who need it can find it but it doesn’t clutter the site for everyone else.
- Bullets can easily be scanned. Presenting copy in bullets (like this blog post) rather than in a narrative format will make it easier for your customers to scan.
Myth: Your new website will show up at the top of search engine results pages right away.
If you build it, they will come, right? Competent developers will build your site with search engine optimization in mind, which is a good start. But the reality is that SEO depends on a variety of things – some outside the developer’s control.
Fact: Maximizing SEO takes time and effort.
Here are a few of the factors that influence SEO the most.
- How frequently your site is updated: Websites that are frequently updated with new information are crawled more frequently by search engines. This is why we recommend blogging as a form of content marketing.
- Time: Search engines prioritize sites based on a variety of factors, including how many people have visited them. It takes time for people to start to find and visit your new site. If your site is well-designed and well-written, its search engine results page rankings should start to rise over time.
Myth: Once my website is up, I never have to think about it again.
A website launch is a huge milestone! But you can’t just “set it and forget it.”
- Periodic maintenance is required, for starters. This means updates of WordPress to help keep your site secure.
- Websites that never change give a bad impression. We’ve all been to websites where the copyright date in the footer is several years old, or there are other signs that no one has updated the content in ages – this is not the image you want to project.
- Websites that are several years old may need a copy and design refresh. Is there anything that looks dated about your site? If your site is more than a couple years old, it might need some tweaks.
Fact: Websites require maintenance and updates.
Website maintenance includes things like:
- Regular updating of WordPress. Most websites today are built using WordPress, which has periodic updates just like any other software. Updating is important to keeping your website secure, but updating can cause problems if your website template and/or plug-ins are not also updated regularly by their authors. Many of Prime’s clients choose to host their websites with us, which means we handle the chore of updating and any issues that arise from it.
- Renewing your domain name. Domains, (like yourcompany.com), are bought from companies like GoDaddy or HostGator in year-long increments of time for a relatively nominal amount of money. Domain renewal scams are common, though – watch for these!
Updating your website is a great way to improve your site’s SEO for two reasons: more information means more content for Google to find, and Google actively prioritizes websites that are updated frequently. Here are ways you can update your content:
By Shelley Johansson. Read about Shelley on our Meet Our Staff page.
- A blog. The Learning Center you’re reading now is an example of a blog, which is a highly effective form of content marketing.
- Portfolio items, case studies, etc. These can be part of your blog or a separate section of your site.
- Company updates. Changes to staff pages, additions or changes to products and services, business hours, locations, service areas — keeping all of your basic company information current is critically important, giving your customers the information they need to do business with you.
- New images. Updating and refreshing images on your site adds interest for repeat customers.
- Revised copy. Your company evolves and changes, and your website’s message should too. Someone should read every word of (non-blog) copy on your website every year and adjust your message accordingly.