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By Rodrigo Jimenez

Although the technology available today may make the task of deciding what to do with a Web site seem overwhelming, there are 10 simple rules to which every small business Web site should adhere.

All business Web sites should:

1. Be Goal Oriented – You should define early how success will be measured.

2. Be Evaluated Regularly – Metrics should be set and monitored. What you don’t measure, you don’t manage.

3. Be Content Focused – Graphics count early on, while content counts always.

4. Be an Extension of the Company’s Offline Operations – Content and functionality should be consistent and integrated with the company’s “brick and mortar” activities.

5. Be “Living Organisms” – Constantly updating an adapting to a company’s objectives.

6. Work Properly – When a user is greeted by an error page on the Web, you don’t get a chance to apologize or offer alternatives.

7. Be Search Engine Optimized – Many other aspects of site should take precedent.

8. Be Engaging – Intuitive graphical interfaces are a must.

9. Be Fast – Speed of download and ease of navigation to quickly find desired information are key factors to keep in mind.

10. Be Connected to Other Marketing Tactics – This includes opt-in email marketing campaigns.

Not taking the time to think through these rules will cost unnecessary time and money in the end. Conversely, by taking the time to think through the implications of these 10 “rules” from the onset, positions the Web site as an investment that strategically contributes to a company. With that in mind, your Web site should:

Be Goal Oriented

Setting goals for the Web site may be the golden rule.

Frequently, clients have not thought past getting the Web site to reflect a new brand or business identity. It is important to go much deeper than that and determine how success will be measured. Ideally, the success metrics reflect what the target audience for the Web site considers useful. The definition of what success is should come from the very audience being targeted. Engage them to ask how they want the Web site organized; what information they need; what tasks they want to accomplish? These days, there are inexpensive ways to collect feedback from visitors to your current site or from your client base as a whole.

For example, users may tell a company that it is important to have the latest industry trends available. Therefore, your Web site may have downloadable whitepapers that are easily accessible.

Be Evaluated Regularly

If this is the case, then track the whitepapers downloaded.

Data from regular evaluation may show that relatively few downloads are occurring. This data should lead to a few considerations, such as
- Is the invitation to download too hidden?

- Is the download feature “broken”?

- Is the list of whitepaper topics not appealing or old news?

Evaluate, then use the data to make assumptions, tweak, and evaluate again. Remember, once you establish a base, your focus should not be on absolute numbers, but on improvements made from period-to-period.

Be Content Focused

Continuing with the example above, the “tweak” may focus on content by enhancing the topics covered in the whitepapers.

Content is one of the best places to start a site improvement project. That’s because the wow appeal of graphics and other non-content, non-functionality focused bells and whistles is not long lasting. Content is king.

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Rodrigo Jimenez is the President and CEO of Whiteboard Labs.
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