Business websites need to move with the times

Author -  Vaughan Reed - NZ Herald

If you aren't seeing results, why bother having a website?

Would you keep throwing money at any other form of marketing or sales not producing results? Would you keep a sales person on who wasn't performing? You know the answers to those questions, so why would your website decision be different. If you don't think you can get results from your website, turn it off.

How have websites evolved?

Businesses face hyper competition in a cluttered marketplace. To put the "clutter" in an online perspective, there was a 28 per cent rise in the number of websites last year, equating to more than 620 million sites worldwide.

Customer behaviour is also changing rapidly. A business website today should be responsive to smartphones and tablets. If it isn't, you need to invest to catch up with your competition. Technology will continue to change - there is already investment in the successors to smartphones.

What are the ingredients of a good website?

  1. It should target your business objectives and provide the foundation for your online strategy.
  2. It needs your commitment, with proactive ongoing management and marketing.
  3. It needs commitment from your web design company, with personalised strategic guidance, marketing advice and support.
  4. It needs to evolve, and for that it requires a content management system that can adapt to the ever-changing web environment and a design that can be kept up-to-date with online trends. With these four ingredients, your website should be able to support your online business goals for years to come.

What should companies avoid?

Don't fall into a cycle of developing a new website or planning a major redevelopment every two to three years. It is an expensive option and disruptive to achieving great results.

When you choose a web design company, ensure it is in it with you for the long haul. Make sure it is clear what its ongoing commitment will be and what it will cost. Don't accept an overly optimistic proposal that sounds too good to be true and watch out for web design companies that believe their job is done once the website is live.

The real value of using a web design company is the ongoing expert advice and guidance it can offer. It should plan the journey with you, be committed and be accountable for helping you achieve your business goals.

Vaughan Reed is managing director of web design company Labyrinth Solutions and founder of content management system Contegro.

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