Updating and Improving Your Website

The internet is a powerful marketing tool. Potential customers will often go to your company website to find preliminary information on your products and services. Your website may be the first impression customers and vendors have of your business.

Most websites were created in the early days of the internet and may now be dated. They may not provide the current functionality available on the internet and may not maximize the internet's full marketing and sales potential. Because the internet has evolved and grown so rapidly, effective company websites are updated or completely revamped on a regular basis.

Here are several suggestions for improving your website:

Evaluate your website.
Today, merely being on the web isn't enough. With more people being online, your website is often the first impression people have of your company. What message is your website sending? Does it utilize current technology and current design standards? Evaluating your website on a regular basis is essential to its success and the success of your company.

Reflect your company brand online.
It is important that your website maintains and reinforces your company identity. Does your website present your company with the same look and feel as your printed literature, store locations or company catalog? Carefully utilize your branding elements - business and product names, slogans or taglines, colors and design elements - to reflect your brand online.

Unify your website with current marketing campaigns.
Keeping a cohesive message between all your marketing materials and your website is essential. Has your company's message changed? Has the website? If you are beginning a new campaign, make sure your website reaffirms the message.

Update your website content regularly.
Websites that change their content regularly give visitors an incentive to return. Keeping your website content fresh will keep your customers and prospects coming back. Regularly changing the content of just the home page gives the site a new look and informs visitors that your information is current.

Stay aware of new technology.
Website technology changes rapidly and your customers use the internet daily. While many companies can't afford to be on the cutting edge, you need to be sure your site is current with today's web standards.

Improve the navigation of your website.
Can visitors easily find information on your site? People on the internet are impatient - if a logical choice isn't evident to them they will leave and find it elsewhere. Make sure your site has standard, easy to follow navigation. As a simple test, ask someone unfamiliar with your site to find a particular piece of information. The results may be eye opening.

Optimize your website for search engines.
With more people finding companies through search engines, search engine placement is increasingly important. Search engine technology has become more sophisticated over time and changes often. Flash animations, framesets, image heavy sites, sloppy coding - all are problematic to search engines. Make sure your website is search engine friendly.

Provide customer service online.
Your service online should be just as good as your service in person or on the telephone. Make it easy to find your company phone number and e-mail throughout your website so visitors feel welcome to contact you. Do you know who receives e-mail messages sent from the company website and do they check them often and respond quickly? Online customer service should be responsive and leave a positive impression with your customers.

Gather customer information.
Rather than simply offering an online brochure you can collect information about people who could benefit from your goods and services. Offering a brief survey, a request information form or a mailing list sign up are simple ways to learn more about your customers and prospective customers.

Review website statistics.
One of the most overlooked aspects of a website are the statistics. Stats provide great insight into what parts of your website visitors are viewing. Do you know what the most popular page of your website is? By analyzing statistics you can measure the success of your website information. Statistics can also point you in the right direction when it comes to updating content.

As the internet continues to evolve your company website must evolve along with it. You want to ensure that your website effectively presents your company to current and prospective customers.

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