web design - what you should ask for

Important items to cover when embarking on your web design project

1. Setting Marketing Goals
It's well and good leaving the layout and design of your website home page to a web designer to create on your behalf if all you want is something that looks good. However it is vital that some consultation occurs with an experienced Internet Marketing person in advance of any draft design process such that your corporate marketing objectives can be embedded in the design. Every small piece of space on your home page should be defined for function and tie-in with clearly considered marketing goals. When this is done properly you end up with with a website that performs for you.

2. Content Preparation & Production
Not alone does your content represent you, your experience and expertise it also must be focussed and above all relevant to your business services, products and marketing objectives. Website content has the greatest impact on search engine ranking performance and therefore the overall performance of your website. Don't rush content. Write it carefully and professionally.

3. Web Design (Graphic Design)
Well finished graphics, colour choices and branding to suit your business is important. Just like the tie at an interview, if it's missing it becomes a factor (concern) with respect to representing the credibility of your business online.

4. Usability and Seamless Navigation
All navigation schemes should be intuitive (not requiring any learning curve) to website visitors. You have control of how and where they move about your website. Use this control to achieve marketing goals in a simple and easy manner.

5. Build Quality and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Good graphic design has to be married with W3C compliant HTML and CSS production to ensure your website renders as required across all common browsers and is future proofed as much as possible. At this time it is important to ensure that your engineering also takes into account best practice SEO techniques. There is no substitute. It cost nothing to optimise a website at build time and it is a vital component of the overall potential of the website to perform well in search engine rankings.

5. Deployment & Web Site Hosting issues
Often overlooked, but critical to search engine performance is where you host your website. Simple rule to follow:- Select a hosting company who can provide you with local IP addresses for your website. If your target market is Ireland, then ensure you select a locally hosted web hosting service. Most search engines (in particular Google) biases search results to local search. Google looks to your browser IP address to ascertain where you are and will serve up what it believes is relevant results to you and it take IP address of the relevant websites into account.

6. Operation & Maintenance
Just like a potted plant, your website needs constant attention if you want to reap long-term rewards for your investment in your new web design. Having a great website designed and launched to great acclaim is not the end of the process but the beginning.

Every new website launched will effectively be "sandboxed" by the more popular search engines, i.e. not appear for searches relating to product or services detailed on the website. It will take upwards of six months of active search engine promotion and Internet Marketing to achieve a page one listing for searches relating to exact content on your website and longer for more popular generic terms.

The efforts to achieve search engine presence includes constant updating and addition of relevant content to the website, link building (inbound) and search engine and directory submission. Engaging in the process even on a small scale will reward you with increased traffic and more enquiries/sales for your business.

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