website fundamentals

Website Fundamentals

  1. Purpose

Who is your target audience? What are they coming to your website for? Are they CEOs? Stay at home moms? Business owners? Do they typically need an immediate response? Do they need to speak with someone before moving forward? Is the site meant to convey information, complete a sale, entertain, or generate a lead? Knowing what is needed is the first step towards building or improving your online presence.

  1. Navigation

Navigation should provide easy access to your site’s content in a logical fashion. Think of how a person would look for information on a website, it should be intuitive. Keep your navigation(menu) in the same place and in the same design throughout the site, consistency is key. When building a large site I like to make up an index card for all my pages of content and then organize them on the kitchen table. That way I can move them around until I have the perfect flow. Once you have it figured out, now confirm that by asking several other people to see if it makes sense to them. You may be surprised.
Lastly, make sure your menu links are spiderable. Don’t use java script, for instance, without making an HTML link in the footer.

  1. Message

What is the message you are trying to convey? It may be, and probably should be somewhat different on each page. However, there should be a central theme/message running through the entire site.

  1. Content

Make all your content relevant to the message of the site. Make it helpful and keep fresh content coming. When deciding how much to put on a page remember, people don’t want to read lengthy copy. They want to be interested and gather pertinent information quickly or they want to move on to another page, or even another website. Keep your page content short and on topic. If you think it should be broken down to multiple pages, it probably should be. Remember, Links not Length. Oh, and be sure to proof your copy. Grammar and spelling are still important.

  1. Graphics vs Text

People like pretty pictures. Search engines like copy. Both like video. Remember this.

  1. Flash

Sorry. It is dead. Sure, it looks nifty to have all kinds of stuff moving around your home page but, people hate it, search engines hate it, and Apple won’t even support it. In fact, Adobe is giving up on Flash in many ways. The next wave of cool stuff you can do with your website is being provided by HTML 5. With the help of HTML5 it is possible to embed video and audio, high quality drawings, charts and animation and many other rich content without using any plugins and third party programs as the functionality is built into the browser urls & files.


  1. Supports Other Marketing

Your website should support and work in conjunction with your other marketing. Email offers should link to a landing page about that offer. The website should provide a call to action such as providing a toll-free number or instant chat for immediate questions. You get the idea.

  1. Title & Tags

I can’t begin to tell you how many times we see what looks like a somewhat decently prepared website and then look at the code only to find that whoever built it had no idea about tags and their importance.
Here are the bare basics:
Title tags are the first thing a person sees when looking at search results. Description tags are the second thing and what convinces them to click to your website. Keyword tags are dead and have been for years. If your developer is still bothering with them they aren’t up to speed and probably missing a lot of other important items.
H1 & H2…used properly these tags tell a search engine what is important on a page. Used improperly they can confuse a search engine and drop your page down so far in the rankings it will never be found.
Alt tags are often overlooked and yet represent an excellent means of shoring up the topic of the page for the search engines. Plus, using them properly is good form and the mark of a professional.

  1. URL & File names

There is a lot of debate amongst web designers as to whether your sites domain name or file naming has an effect on your search rankings. After twelve years of studying this I can absolutely guarantee it does. There are certain tips that a good SEO person knows about creating domains and file names that can make a huge difference. Be sure to ask your developer their take on this, then listen carefully. Their answer could well mean the difference between ranking on the first page or not at all.

  1. Analytics

Install Google Analytics. Then study the results. If you aren’t sure what you are looking at ask your developer. They should be able to tell you. If they can’t, it means you may have a web developer but you do not have a search engine marketing and optimizing professional. That means you had better get one because without an understanding of analytics a developer is simply building pretty pages that are going nowhere.

Copyright © 2011 Chris Bachman