It’s easy to forget about the business website. But, remember that the business website is your identity online. The site needs to be a reflection of what the business is today, not last year. Keeping it up to date is key to attracting new customers.
The business website is the first stop for customers. Customers -- new and old -- rely on websites to be a source of current, accurate, and relevant information. Is there anything more maddening that shopping for a laptop battery only to find that the battery you need, while listed on the site for sale, is actually out of stock? Next time you need to buy something, you will probably find another place to shop.
You can’t design a website, launch it, and forget it. Of course, there are times either when your product line is modest or your website is merely a page listing little more than name of business, address, and phone number that you will not need to do extensive site maintenance. For all other businesses with a presence on the web, regular checking of data on the website is essential. Your customers will come to see your site as the go-to place for information about your business. Keep your customers in the loop by updating your website.
Who Will Maintain Your Website?
During the planning process for the new company website, all employees probably had a hand in the development of the site. Editorial wrote web copy. Marketing honed sales pitches to the target audience of the site. Accounting approved the budget and associated expenditures. Management or ownership of the business checked for adherence to the company’s message. Perhaps an outside web design firm created the site. The design firm or in-house designers developed the site to incorporate all aspects of the business through unified brand messaging.
Once the site is up and running, don’t allow the site to languish. As the face of the business on the web, the site needs to accurately reflect everything about the business. Designate one person or a team to ensure that the website is maintained on a regular basis. If using an outside design firm for site maintenance, appoint an in-house person to be the liaison for all changes.
Website Maintenance: The Nuts and Bolts
Problems can occur at any time. Keep a constant watch on the site. Have staff use the site to do searches. Load the site on different browsers since on a given day a site may load in Firefox, but not work in Explorer. Keep records of data pertaining to speed times, capacity of server, software upgrades needed.
- Upgrade website software with latest versions. A message about updates shows in the WordPress.org dashboard. Note, you will need to back up your site before launching an upgrade. Upgrade all plugins.
- Increase site speed. The customer’s time is valuable, and so is your time. Does the site load fast or slow? Do a check on site loading times. iwebtool has a free website speed test. Broken links can slow down load time. Here’s a broken link checker.
- Pretend to be the customer. Do a trial run of your site by searching for your site using keywords. Is your site coming up first in searches for relevant keywords? If not, make changes to web copy to incorporate keywords that are particular to your market niche.
- Increase bandwidth. When researching web site hosting plans, ask how many sites are on the host’s servers. Ask about upgrades to speed, server hardware, and bandwidth. Look at whether your host’s server can handle the data transfers on your site.
Website Messaging: The Nitty-Gritty
The customer base for your business will grow as word spreads about your site. The site is the first port of call for customers. Make the site user friendly and easy on the eyes. Above all,the site should be an up-to-the-minute representation of your business online.
Promote your site through the traditional methods of placing signage in your bricks-and-mortar stores, sending mailers/flyers to customers, and through local, national newspaper, and television ads. You will want to establish not only the business’ online presence through its website, but also on social media sites, like Twitter and Facebook pages. Remember that all sites, whether offline or online, should have the same brand messaging. For instance, do a check of all stores to see that signage displays current logos. Concurrently, check all online venues for consistency of message and appearance.
- Keep content current. A site represents the business online. Think of maintaining a site “more like publishing a magazine than a book.” Magazines require a steady stream of current articles, interesting stories and ads. Your site’s appearance will remain the same -- header, company logo, photos, brand information -- but as products are launched, updates need to be made. Involve all departments in site reviews. Sales can update online pricing. Technicians can provide explanations of new products and upgrades. Marketing and editorial can work to ensure that all web copy adheres to the brand messaging and target audience of the site.
- Change is good. While a full-scale site overhaul is probably only necessary after mergers or expansions of the company, small updates will add new life to the site. Switch to a new website template design. Add up-to-date photos of company directors, new products, etc. Is your CEO no longer sporting a mullet in his company photo? Then it is time for a new photo! Changes made to a site will encourage returning visitors to explore the site.