Blog: Help! I want a website
The other day I received a flyer from an organisation offering a short seminar to explain why having a website “was not enough” and that one needed to understand internet marketing fundamentals. A laudable objective! I am not in to “knocking” competitors but I am into the business of helping clients needing a new presence on the web get the fundamentals right when they contract with a website developer. The flyer referred me to the site where the seminar was explained. It is true (as they said) that simply having a website is not enough. Relevant visitors have to be attracted; there has to be “call to action”; relevant content needs to be accessible and so on. The very sad aspect of the organisation I refer to was that their own site showed how little they knew about how to build an effective website – that would work for the client. Without going too deeply into technical issues, and these really are important, their website demonstrated a catalogue of bad practices in the way it was built.
A client of ours was approached the other day by a national advertiser “guaranteeing top Google search engine ranking” if they built her a new site. Beware, there are no guarantees! If one puts in the “correct” terms into a search, almost any site can get top ranking. But get real – that’s not the way people do things! (Neither does Google take money for top ranking guarantees). So what? I want a website? If it looks attractive and is easy to navigate, and inexpensive, is that not enough? No, no, no!
There is world of difference between most websites built by “my nephew who is just finishing his computer science degree” or many “designers who have been doing our printed marketing material for years” and websites built by a developer that understands the need for website integrity. The differences are often technical, but absolutely critical.
If you want high search engine ranking then start by ensuring your sites complies with accessibility standards (W3C). It should be well structured, content rich, easily updatable on a regular basis (otherwise it will drift down the rankings); it should have meaningful (readable) URLs for the all pages; browser title bars should show where you are in the site; the site should avoid use of graphics (Flash) without alternative text; the site should avoid the use of “tables” and heavy “mark-up”; it should utilise “cascading style sheets (CSS)” and meet DDA regulations. Yes, these are all technical issues – but so important. You don’t understand these things? Then find a website developer who does. Websites should work for you. By compromising at the outset, you will be starting from the back row of the grid, stuck in first gear. Give yourself a chance – get it right first time and your site will at least have a chance of working for you.