Why your company needs a great websites
To many organizations, their public website is a necessary evil. They know it's important to have one. Everybody else does and, to not look out of touch, that means they need one too. They slap the contents of their company brochure up on a site designed by one of their IT guys and check off the box labeled “website.”
It's true that a company website is necessary, but it's far from evil. Your website is one of the most powerful marketing tools your organization has. It can help create leads, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction. So your company doesn't just need a website, it needs a great website.
They'll meet your website before they meet you.
Before they meet a sales person, walk into your office or receive a piece of your company literature, it’s likely potential customers have already been to your website. More and more people and businesses are first searching the web for vendors to solve their problems and fill their needs. It is just plain faster, easier, and more comprehensive than traditional sources like the yellow pages or business directories. Therefore, it's imperative that you make a great first impression.In business, looks do matter.
No matter how great your products or services are, nobody wants to do business with a company that appears less than professional. Imagine learning of the most delicious restaurant in town. Now imagine you arrive with your family and you see a broken window, a dead roach on the floor, and some water leaking out from under the restroom door. Does it really matter that the food is great?
In business, people judge books by their covers and want to give their money to companies that look credible and respectable. If your website looks like that of a company working out of a garage, potential customers will search on for a company that appears more established.
Web visitors are not patient
Upon reaching your home page, the clocks in the minds of your visitors start ticking. You've got about five seconds to let them know they're in the right place, that you are a reputable company, and that you can solve their problem.
That's a lot of information to convey in not a lot of time. If you fail to provide that information, visitors will hit the back button in their browsers and search elsewhere. It happens fast and it can happen often. Worst of all, you won't ever know you lost them.
Great websites not only keep your visitors from turning around and leaving, they suck them further in to your site. The goal is to keep them on your site as long as possible. The longer they're there, the more they'll learn about your products and services and the better the chances are that they'll wind up in your lead database.
The keys are to be clear in your messaging, have an easy-to-read layout, an intuitive navigation scheme, and compelling call to actions.
Your website never closes
Since the very minute you launched your website, your business has been open twenty four hours a day. That means it can potentially be selling 24 hours a day. If you're a company doing transactions online, you can make money around the clock.
Great websites are like sales people that never sleep. Everything a visitor can get from a sales person can be accessed via your website with the exception of the sweaty handshake. Product and service descriptions, pricing, demonstrations, and more can be available to potential customers to help them move closer to becoming actual customers.
The Bottom Line
Your website is often the front door to your business. It shapes how potential customers perceive your organization. It's a vehicle for your messaging and helps visitors learn about your products and services. It can turn suspects to leads, leads to prospects and prospects to sales.
With so much riding on the quality of your company's website, why risk mediocrity? A great website is worth a million bucks. But it will cost much less to implement and much more to not.
What can I say, you get what you pay for.
Choices you have when starting a Web site
The technical choices you have when starting a Web site can be overwhelming. The situation isn’t helped by shady characters trying to rip you off and well-meaning but ignorant Web designers who don’t know as much as they let you think they do. Both types will take advantage of your lack of knowledge. One tries to deceive on purpose, and the other tries to give you help that I wouldn’t wish on my competition.
(well, okay, maybe I would).
Below is an easy-to-understand list of choices, but first, a little vocabulary to help you out:
Platform is a word we use to describe the base underlying technology or software that allows us to create and manage a Web site. For example, this site runs on Joomla, but others run on Drupal or WordPress (among others). Creating a Web site out of HTML pages and uploading those files to a Web server is not a platform. Software like Dreamweaver or Expression Web is not anything like the WordPress software. Dreamweaver runs on your computer. WordPress runs on your Web server.
CMS is a Content Management System, a way to store Web site content and visual design information that lets you create and modify site content yourself, without paying someone else to do it for you, and usually without requiring you to know complex code. CMSs store all the information about a Web site in a database on the web server. The platforms I describe above are all CMSs.
Web server is the computer that stores your Web site files. It runs software just like your computer does, but for letting the public access your site’s pages on the Web. You pay for this as a service from a Web hosting company, just like a store would pay rent for its retail space. Your choice here is important because different hosting plans will let you do different things with your Web site. To confuse things, this is often referred to as a platform, too! For example, you may have a Windows platform or a Linux platform. Windows may sound comfortingly familiar, but most CMSs run on Linux. When in doubt, choose Linux for your Web server.
Web Site Platform Choices
The DIY software Web site
This is the “homemade” Web site done in FrontPage, Expression Web, or Dreamweaver.
- Total control over content and appearance
- Don’t have to pay anyone to do it for you
- You have to take expensive classes or read books to know how to use the software
- The learning curve can be a bit steep, because you’re essentially becoming a Web designer, when what you wanted to was just have nice Web site for your business
- You are NOT a Web designer, and chances are your site will look like it
- Popular software choices for which training exists are expensive (original purchase plus any future upgrades)
- Extremely time-consuming to create and update site
Page Creator Web Services
These are becoming more popular as the technology behind them advances to make them easier for the layperson to use. How they work is you build a Web site through an online interface that is supposed to be easy to use. They are a combination site builder and CMS. Often, these are available from your Web hosting company. They are starting to be available as third-party services. Some of them have ecommerce capability.
- Fairly easy to use
- The service upgrades for you
- Better than you could do yourself
- Limited choices and options
- Limited templates (creates the visual look and content structure) means your site will look exactly like many others
- You don’t control your own data or design
This is the classic “pay someone to design your website” scenario. It has a good chance of giving you what you need, but also a decent chance of you getting relieved of a lot of money in return for a lot of frustration. Make sure you read some articles about how to choose a good Web designer before you give anybody your money! I am not saying that they’re all crooks or ignoramuses, but some of them certainly are! You need to know the difference, and that means you need to educate yourself. Part of that education includes this article you’re reading now.
- Custom work can give you exactly what you need
- Smart designers/developers will use a CMS
- If a CMS is used it's features are expandable with added software
- If a CMS is used you can start with the basics and add features as time and budget allow
- Smart/good designers will use XHTML/CSS
- You have control over all aspects
- May have a blogging component to it
- Everything depends on who you choose
- Often can be overkill if a large-scale CMS is used
- Not specialists in blogging, social media, may have a dated approach
- If no CMS -- possibly outdated design and SEO (search engine optimization) practices
- if no CMS -- expensive and tedious work to update, edit, or change the site
- If no XHTML/CSS, then the code and the design are outdated and will fail a validation test
- Static or CMS's can be expensive (especially for ecommerce or large sites over 25 pages)
Only you can decide what’s right for yourself. Having a trusted advisor is extraordinarily valuable in preventing you from making mistakes and wasting huge amounts of time and money, but it’s still up to you in the end. And of course, sometimes it isn’t what kind of site you have at all, it’s what kind of business you have and how you run it. But that’s a post for another day.
Nowadays it is so easy and inexpensive to get started with a CMS style site, I am truly amazed that smaller businesses are still using HTML designers and site builders. (yuck)
Yes a short time ago Content Management Sysytems (CMS) were very, very and I mean very expensive. But hey so were computers. I paid $900 dollars for a Pentium II Processor back in the day. NOT THE COMPUTER, JUST THE PROCESSOR.
Well times have changed, I can get a amazingly fast COMPLETE computer for that same $900 bucks and you can get a killer CMS site for about the same.
A CMS site has so many benefits over a standard HTML or "site builder" site, that I truly believe you are throwing your money away if you aren't using a CMS.
Please take some time and skim across some of the articles on this site,
do your research and give us a call if you have any questions.
"If all things are relatively equal, I tend to do business with the companies that have better marketing graphics, slicker sites and toll free numbers."
Your website may be your visitor's first impression of you and your business. The second a visitor views your site, colors, images, fonts, text and other visuals will bring out certain feelings and thoughts. You want to be sure you are sending out the right messages that are inline with what your niche is expecting and how you want to be perceived.
1. Your website should appear professional, clean and simple.
When you walk into a physical store, you are more apt to buy from a store that is clean, easy to walk around the aisles, sells quality products that are neatly placed on shelves or racks, and has a friendly yet well-established feel. Your website should have a similar look and feel. Avoid clutter, allow for white space around items and make it easy for the visitor to move around.
2. Your navigation should be easy and simple.
If your visitors are having trouble finding what they are looking for immediately, it is much too easy for them to return to their search and find a competitor with easier navigation. Keep navigation in a prominent location with simple to use tabs and links.
3. Select colors that are attractive and comfortable for the eye to look at.
Learn what colors your audience prefers, as well as the impression you are trying to set off. If you want to relax your visitors, then use subtle and light colors. If you want to excite your visitors, then use vibrant colors. Stick to colors and shades that work well together. Use a color wheel to see which colors complement each other.
4. Create a branding statement and utilize that statement throughout the whole website.
Your business should have a special brand that makes you stand out from competitors. Your brand is your unique look that grabs your visitor's attention. Place your brand prominently near the top of your home page or landing page. Make sure to keep you brand throughout the whole site to give everything a consistent look and feel.
5. Display what your business is all about.
It only takes visitors about 10 seconds to know whether they want to leave your site or continue viewing it. Make sure that they learn what your business is all about within those first 10 seconds. If your url or business name doesn't easily explain your business purpose, then make sure to create a tagline and use that as part of your branding statement.
6. Make sure that important "calls to action" are in places where the user can see them.
Most visitors will not read your entire home page. People tend to peruse a web page quickly. The use of colors and bolding can make important words and phrases stand out more and catch the reader's attention. Make sure that important links or buttons are easy to see, stand out, and are not too far down the page.
7. Prominently display quality graphics and images.
Graphics and other images on your website will grab your visitor's attention much more than text. Make sure that your images are high quality graphics and are optimized for fast loading.
8. Use photos to display the quality of your products or services.
Since visitors cannot pick up your products or see a body of your work, they rely on images and graphics. Use attractive images and photos that are large enough to show important details.
9. Use stand-alone web pages.
Unlike a magazine or catalog, you cannot predict which web pages your visitor will read first, next, or last. Avoid having content in your pages that is dependent on your visitor having seen another page first. Make sure each page can stand on its own.
10. Test your navigation and links.
Test your completed design by showing it around to others. See how they navigate. Ask open-ended questions to get a feel for how they perceive your website. Are they having trouble finding certain features of your site?
You got your business, you got the people, you got the office tools and proper equipment to get the job done right.
Does your business need a website?
So should your business have a website, even if your business is small and sells products or services you don't think can be sold online? My answer in 1998 is the same as my answer today: Yes, if you have a business, you should have a website. Period. No question. Without a doubt.
Also, don't be so quick to dismiss your product as one that can't be sold online. Nowadays, there's very little that can't be sold over the internet. More than 20 million shoppers are now online, purchasing everything from books to computers to cars to real estate to jet airplanes to natural gas to you name it. If you can imagine it, someone will figure out how to sell it online.
Let me clarify one point: I'm not saying you should put all your efforts into selling your wares over the internet, though if your product lends itself to easy online sales, you should certainly be considering it. The point to be made here is that you should at the very least have a presence on the web so that customers, potential employees, business partners and perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you have to offer.
That said, it's not enough that you just have a website. You must have a professional-looking site if you want to be taken seriously. Since many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store, your site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by a barrel of colorblind monkeys, your chance at making a good first impression will be lost.
One of the great things about the internet is that it has leveled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big boys. As mentioned, you have one shot at making a good first impression. With a well-designed site, your little operation can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company. The inverse is also true. I've seen many big company websites that were so badly designed and hard to navigate that they completely lacked professionalism and credibility. Good for you, too bad for them.
When it comes to benefiting from a website, size does not matter. I don't care if you're a one-man show or a 10,000-employee corporate giant; if you don't have a website, you're losing business to other companies that do.
Here's the exception to my rule: It's actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad. Your site speaks volumes about your business. It either says, "Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful site for our customers!" or it screams, "Hey, look, I let my 10-year-old nephew design my site. Good luck finding anything!"
Your website is an important part of your business. Make sure you treat it as such.
The age old acronym K.I.S.S.
KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!!!
K-I-S-S: Keep It Simple, Stupid. It’s a mantra that always pops into my head when I’m looking at new startups. A lot of them seem to want to do a million different things because other companies have been successful at one of those things in the past. But that’s a bad idea. Way too many new products and services are too complicated. And I would suggest, often fail as a direct result of that.
On the face of it, it makes sense to give users a lot of options when it comes to features, and let them decide what to use and what not to use. But decisions can be a burden. And further, users are often bad decision makers. It may be blasphemy to say that users want to be told what to do, but at the very least, they want to be lead in a direction.
And that’s important. Because it’s not like a lack of decisions has to be limiting.
I think that for most startups, I should be able to describe to you, the reader, exactly what a service does in one sentence. With some startups today, it seems like it’s a mess of “Well, it’s this plus this minus this with a little of this if you do this.Unless you buy it with the other thing then you get this and that???”
One kickass feature far outweighs a dozen half-assed ones. Focus on that one.
O.K. the sites done. Just sit back, relax and just listen to those new clients pound on your door.
The greatest myth with the Internet is that once you have a website, people will flock to your business!! It could not be more wrong! If no one is aware of your website, why will they visit?
Sadly, many people still believe in this myth and after their website is launched, they realized that their website is not giving any return-on-investment (ROI) and eventually settle on the conclusion that Internet is hype and it does not work.
I know for a fact if you have a website and you do not promote it properly, you will have wasted money and time. Your web address should appear in ALL your advertising, on your business cards, letterhead flyers and anywhere else you can place it.
Whether you have a site or not you should list your business with every FREE directory you can find on the internet. i.e the Google business directory, Yahoo's Bussiness etc.
You should consider writing one new article to your website each month and posting it on "Feed Burner" or "Feedzilla". Driving traffic to your site increases your rank with Google and the other search engines.
You want to get as many pages as you can on the internet to link back to your site. They are called "backlinks" and Google loves them.
Sadly there is no magic wand.
This page is designed to help communicate ideas. These are questions you need to consider.
- What is the Purpose of Your Website?
- To gain a favorable impression of the company?
- To develop a qualified list of prospects?
- To sell products directly taking credit card information?
- To encourage potential customers to contact us?
- To make available product information and price lists to distributors or customers.
- To strengthen brand identification...
We don't just use any template! The templates Applied CMS chooses are designed by the best of the best, and are specifically designed to utilize the capabilities of Joomla!.
Other companies state "they don't use templates" and they wear that as a badge of honor. Where as we are proud of the fact that we do start with templates. The template design companies we use are literally the best in the world, it is all they do and it shows in their work. The companies that claim they don't use templates generally speaking, look second rate. That is because...
Say "bye-bye to 2007" static HTML sites.
Say "hello" to the dynamic interactivity of a powerful and easy to use content management system.
- Our CMS (content management system) is an award winning web content management system
- Manage your website from wherever you are in the world with our CMS.
- Unlimited web pages
- Manage your website without any prior knowledge of HTML
- Manage your website without the need for complicated web programming skills.
- SAVE MONEY $$ without having to pay a web-tech foe evey tiny thing. $$
- 0ver 8,3,38 modules, extensions and plug-ins
- Just plug and go!! Etensions provide additional functions to our CMS! Extensions include photo galleries, real estate or automobile listings, e-commerce - shopping cart (accept credit cards), calendars, online bookings, newsletters, coupons, blogs, ratings and reviews, auctions, forums etc.