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Business Websites - Minimum Standard

Fig 7. A Responsive Website

A responsive website

Meeting Current Needs

A small number of businesses can afford, need and benefit from large agency support. They should still check they are getting what they pay for, seeking advice if needed.

The majority will take an alternative route and requirements for their websites are outlined in the next two pages. Ongoing management and search optimisation are on page 8, here we focus on initial needs.

Website Design

A website should not be built to please a business owner, or designer. Emphasis should be solely on the customer, usability, communication, branding and sales.

That a site should not be over designed, or off putting logically follows. A well thought out image in line with the product is welcome but the focus should be on website visitors. If this is not the case, all else holds little purpose.

Content Management

Many businesses will be entirely responsible for content, others partly so. In both cases, a content management system they are comfortable with is essential, as is good training to help them use this.

Systems are often marketed on the lines of "no skill needed", when this is not the case. Editing content may be easy, back end management less straightforward.

Examples are Drupal, Joomla, Wordpress. Excellent in their place and they may be a good answer but there are alternatives to suit smaller websites. Where technical knowledge needs, perhaps ongoing support costs tend to be reduced.

At the lower end of the scale, many software based, or online site builders may look simple but will throw up constant barriers as time goes on. They rarely suit a business, just hobby sites.

Through self selection, or with a developer's help, a range of options should be considered, not simply what is commonly used. If this needs time and research, they will be well spent.

Website Structure

Anticipating structure is part of choosing the right system. Structure also creates usability for website visitors and site managers, a website is not just built but continues to evolve.

Beyond the ability to fit with future needs and content, search engine understanding can be governed by structure. Structure can also relate to communication, the needs of a particular audience, the profile and products of the business.

If a business plan exists, even just ideas jotted down, the structure of a website should be matched with them before being built. Better than time, or money wasted on endless changes.

Website Content

Primary content should be understood before a design is produced. To communicate the message in a captivating way and to take in essential needs. From legal requirements, to friendly contact facilities.

Content planning is inseparable from design, the words and images may not be known but the path can be. For users, or search engines, relevance and cohesion most often come from forethought.

If a designer is building the site, they can build a few additional page layouts that may fit with future content. Where they are helping create the content, this should match the quality of the business and the needs of visitors, the basic purpose.

Core Requirements

The image on this page points to a vital need. People no longer just sit before a large screen to access the web, device compatibility should be assured in any website. Running a separate mobile site rarely makes sense, better that one design works for all.

Good website building is about meeting expectations, of visitors to the website and of the business itself. Their technical ability and website management plans should be taken into account.

How to build a website warrants more than a page. We simply wished to bring to mind factors which should always be considered and second nature to good developers. The same applies to the next section, on taking a website forward.

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