August 19, 2013 | last updated August 19, 2013 8:46 am
Know How

10 Steps To A Better Website

If the copyright on your website is three years old, and you haven't added news items in 18 months, it's time to revamp the website. Here are 10 strategies we developed when we revised our website.

Take Stock. Use your site map or index, or create an outline. Flag dated pages that should be removed, and note omissions, such as new products and new applications. Also, note pages that are cluttered with too much content.

Re-evaluate site goals. Who is your audience, and what information do they need? What do you want to accomplish with your website? Do you want to establish credibility? Generate leads? Drive traffic to your business? Make an outline, or create a new site map that reveals content gaps.

Visit the websites of leaders in your industry. Do they cover issues you should cover?

Appoint a content manager. Make someone responsible to see that content has a consistent message and tone. If employees lack the time or skill to generate new content for your website, engage someone who has written web content. Also engage an HTML (HyperText Markup Language) expert.

Create a separate website or portal for each audience. When you serve different sectors, such as health care and government, create separate portals for each sector. If you have just opened an office in Shanghai, for example, build a separate Chinese portal.

Evaluate site design and format. Are the logo and taglines current? Are the graphics still fresh and relevant? Can you substitute original photos and screenshots for clip art and stock images? Consider inserting photos and videos, but ensure they are top quality.

Create a version for mobile devices. Use shorter sentences and pages. Omit larger images. Then, test the mobile version on a variety of devices to make sure the content is legible.

Seek opportunities for new links and cross-references. Add value by creating links to other websites or creating cross-references within your website. Some of our articles contain links to other pages on our website or to articles by other people.

Be a visitor to your site. Test and retest the website. Is the content clear? Can you easily navigate from one section to another? Are the links intact? We changed the title of one page from "market research" to "business research," but nearly forgot to change the website index and other pages that referenced the "market research" page. Ask others to test your website as well.

Optimize your website to increase visibility. Use Ragtag (www.isdntek.com/ragtag.htm) or a web page editor mentioned in this article: www.elated.com/articles/10-fantastic-free-web-page-editors to evaluate keywords on your website and your competitors' sites.

To encourage visitors, revise your website every year or two so customers and prospects will visit your site. Make sure company and product or services information is current. Also, check your website every few weeks to see that the links work, especially your "contact us" link. For best results, work with experts in website writing, HTML, web analytics, and search engine optimization (SEO).

Ruth Winett is founder and president of Winett Associates in Framingham, which provides market research and writing services for businesses. Contact her at ruth@winettassociates.com

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