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10 Tips to a better web site

So, you have a new web site and know that this is just the beginning. Now you have to look at how to keep your site relevant, while continuing to improve the experience visitors have while at it. Here are ten quick tips to help you make the most of your online property.


1. Update frequently and schedule maintenance

It's not fun, but it's important. Leaving your site static for six months is akin to leaving the same stock on the floor of a retail shop. (It will look to others as though your business is a bust.) Get in there once a week and tweak little elements. Think of it as "house-keeping for your brand".


2. Assess user traffic and respond

Hit counters are poop. When someone talks about "hits", you can generally dismiss their data. Monitoring in-depth site statistics however is an entirely different thing. Employ a system that tells you about your site visitors in detail... and use that data. Review the length of a visitor's stay, which pages they viewed and what they dismissed, and rework your site to meet their interests.


3. Define problems... Then use the web to help solve them

When you are looking at what you can do with the web, you have to be able to identify your challenges. Once you have outlined these difficulties, you can have your design team look at how your site can work to remedy them. You might be surprised by how well your problems can be solved once you have a really clear grasp of what they are.


4. Make it simpler

We often get so wowed by bells and whistles, that we can "gadget" a site into a state of uselessness. It's always important to remind oneself that "more" isn't necessarily better. More is sometimes just more. Keep your site accurate, efficient and easy to navigate. Do that, and you will likely have one of the better sites out there.


5. Keep abreast of the market

You must know your audience. Do your best to become intimately informed of their challenges, needs and desires. When you truly understand what makes these groups tick, you will be able to anticipate their reactions and tailor a web presence that communicates to them. Everyone speaks, but it's way more important to ensure that you are heard.


6. Screw the status quo

Most web sites suck. They look the same as competitor sites, broadcast identical messages, and are flat out boring. Why such a proliferation of bland crap? Simply because it's easier to fit in than to blaze our own trail. Keep thinking about how people really use your site. Just remember that this is your race. Following someone else is a real mistake... especially if they were off-course anyway.


7. It's okay to ask a pro

It's really sad how many people really think that putting a lot of random links on their site makes it interactive and useful. Really, if I want to find something on the web, I'm going to use Google. Want to know what you can do to make your site really interactive and usable? Ask your design team. They will assess your needs and build something that really works for you.


8. Keep an ongoing list

Some changes are larger projects and need the design / development team to come in and help. Minimize the hourly costs of the team by asking them to take care of a number of things at once. Keep a sheet beside your machine and scratch down little notes whenever you see something that could be better on your site. After a few months, you'll have some great ideas collected.


9. Be honest and rational

Many of us treat our web projects like babies. We are proud of them and sometimes even a little parental when people gush over our new sites. Take care to avoid this sort of excitement. Look at your web site as just an element in your marketing. Regularly assess its performance and effectiveness. Ensure that it delivers on your goals and avoid the pitfalls of becoming emotional about something that is really just a tool. 


10. Forget about limitations

People often think that "it has all been done". Here's a little prediction though: the web will work very differently in five years from how it does today. Remember when we use to "surf the web"? When was the last time you did that? The web will continue to grow as a medium, and the greatest innovations will come from those who question why things are a certain way. Always ask how you could make your site more useful. You will uncover answers that will make your site a powerful resource. 


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