The Australian Small Business Blog

Friday, September 15, 2006

Golden Rules of Websites - Rule 2 in a series

By Ron Stark

A fire can hospitalise you or cook your food. Water can sustain you or drown you. A motor car can get you to where you want to go or run over you. Your website can help your business or damage it.

Probably the most commonly overlooked aspect of having a website is its capacity to damage your business. To a visitor it's a window into your business. It tells your potential clients, in a few seconds, the type of business you appear to be - not always what you really are. It's all about initial impressions.

If left unattended, your website goes through three distinct phases. First, when initially built it's an accurate reflection of your business. Second, when your business has moved ahead and your procducts and services have changed but your website hasn't. This is the stage at which your website doesn't help at all, but it doesn't damage your business either.

The third stage is when your content is obviously out of date, products are obsolete, the telephone number is no longer working, links are broken and the email no longer works. The message about your business is then loud and clear - that you've gone out of business.

The key thing to remember is that just because you've forgotten your website and it's long out of date, it still lurks on the Internet, still visible to your potential clients, relentlessly working against your business.

Golden Rule 2

A website has equal capacity to enhance or damage your business. Which one is up to you.

There are other issues, however, unrelated to whether content is up to date, but nonetheless damaging to your business. I will touch on these in a subsequent article, but here are a few:

  • An opening Flash page may gratify your designer, but to your visitor it's an obstacle.
  • Complicated navigation may satisfy a website programmer's ego, but to your visitor it's irritating and makes your business appear messy to deal with.
  • An amateur design may save you some money, but to your visitor it makes your business look unprofessional.

This is the second article in a series that exposes the many, yet frequently overlooked basic business rules that successful websites should follow. The author Ron Stark is the founder of Snapsite, where your business needs come before technology.

The Australian Small Business Blog

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