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Avoiding Web Business Disaster

So your company has a website. You spent more than you wanted to on building the website. Your company has spent more money than you care to remember on brand identity. You waited in nervous anticipation as you launched it. Now that it’s here it seems to have done nothing to add to your business’ bottom line.

The natural thing would be to blame the people who built it, because clearly, something’s wrong with it.

It can certainly be said that some web development firms approach the website-building process incorrectly. Some take the position that they will build whatever the client requests since the client is paying the bill. However, most web designers know that this does not translate long-term into success for them either and make suggestions that counter the client’s wishes. Many clients resist these suggestions in the effort of maintaining their original vision. Because of this the web developer can’t shoulder all the blame for a poor-performing website.

There are two distinctly different problem categories; design issues and business issues. Design issues are ones where the web design fundamentals have been violated. Problems such as poor navigation, cluttered layout, lack of white space, poor color choices, incompatible fonts, layouts not designed for different screen resolutions, lack of cross-browser compatibility (to name a few) all classify as design issues. The business issues are ones that relate to content, brand identity, communication features, streamline ordering process, and streamlined customer service.

Issues related to poor design can be more easily fixed than the business issues. A competent web developer can look at your site and its traffic statistics and likely explain to you what the problems are. Interview several developers and listen to their ideas and reasoning behind their ideas. They generally have the experience to know what design elements work for your audience.

Business issues are a different, more complex problem. The vast majority of websites do not generate revenue for the owners, and thus are considered failures. There is a common theme among them: lack of quality, relevant content. For a business owner it can significantly reduce the return-of-investment for building the website. For most business owners, the solution is not so easy to come by. Many web developers offer a basic content management solution as part of the website development package. The content management solution does the basics of adding new text and images to web pages, however the administration and subsequent training in the use of the system do not provide the proper education on the importance of using the content management system, and it goes unused. This is fatal for your website.

Poor content management can be overcome with a large advertising budget for the website. This, again, reduces the return-on-investment. The key is to find a solution that reduces the need for extensive advertising because it enables potential customers to find you through organic search. The search engine market is consistently evolving to provide a better experience for users conducting search. The main objective they promote is elevating sites with great content, and an excellent content structure. Your goal should be to become the website that provides both of those things for your business niche. The basic content management system thrown in with a website development package is generally insufficient for this task.

With the surge of audio and video content coming to the web, there is a multitude of ways to reach customers with a unique message. While websites such as YouTube and Flickr present free access to hosting and delivery of content, it is generally unwise for a business to utilize these resources when you have built a brand or a message. Providing unrestricted access to your video and audio content can be disastrous when used by unscrupulous competitors. An investment in a robust CMS solution should provide the necessary security controls for the hosting and delivery of your content. You can control streaming, downloading, and viewing options prior to unleashing your content to the world.

We all learn at some point in time that we get what we pay for. It is even more so with web development. When investigating the investment for a new website build, one of the first considerations needs to be finding a feature-rich content management solution. If you already have a website, you should consider an investment in a content management solution to have integrated into your website.

Finding a content management solution can be difficult because of the plethora of available systems on the market and it is unclear without the benefit of a seasoned professional to know the strengths and weaknesses of each. The first step is finding the systems offered by companies that specialize in CMS software. They have spent a lot of money and time optimizing their solution to provide marketers what they need to manage a successful website. The second step is to review the client list (if possible) and look for businesses in a similar niche to yours. They would have the experience to manage the integration and understand the expectations you have in the system. Thirdly, investigate the training process, including on-going training and maintenance of the system. A good CMS package comes with extensive training to help you get the most of out the system, as well as supplying updates and features as they become available.

Do your research before selecting your CMS. Companies such as Mogistic (http://www.mogistic.com/), Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com/), and Red Dot ([http://www.reddot.com/]) offer best of breed solutions. Work with your web developer to find a solution that you like. It’s a worthwhile investment, worth the time to get the decision right.

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