Everyman’s Guide to the Perfect Website

I have to confess that the title of this article is misleading. While I wanted to aptly describe the solutions proposed, I would never assume you are “everyman.” Webster’s defines “everyman” as an ordinary person; the typical or average person.

In fact, I’d more likely assume that you are the opposite of everyman since you understand that a “perfect website” is not what you have at this point.

So – now that I have both complimented and offended you in one fell swoop, let’s see what makes the perfect website? What elements, details and functionality do you need to get the traffic, sales and brand consistency you desire? I’ve included five specific tips to building the perfect website for every need. And, while these are necessarily general in scope, they typically work well for every business that chooses to invest in their business growth. And they work particularly well for those who aren’t afraid to reach for success.

Practical, powerful tip number one: Your “back end” is more important than your front.

Crazy. That’s probably what you’re saying at this point, but let’s think this through. In order for you to have a reasonable expectation of success, your website architecture needs to be as strong as possible. Several things happen when you invest in a strong content management system or user-friendly web console:

1. You build organizational capacity. By having an easy to use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), you give your employees the ability to get work done quickly and efficiently.

2. You can manage your pages better. Information and content is king. How you manage it will directly affect how your consumer feels about you. A powerful “back end” infrastructure is paramount to managing content well.

3. Agility will differentiate you from your competitors. When your stuff running behind your “STUFF” allows you to do more things, you will find greater flexibility – and become more agile – in how you can serve your user.

Practical, powerful tip number two: Don’t get a powerful content management system (CMS) if you don’t know, or plan to learn, how to maximize the tools at your disposal.

Think back to your younger days. Nostalgic, isn’t it?

Now snap out of it, and think about the car you most likely got into a fender bender with because you didn’t know “how she handles” in your youth. Similar to that cherry red 350, you can get a powerful CMS, but if you don’t know what to do with it, you’re sunk.

Practical, powerful tip number three: Get connected.

The only way to learn from your customer is to connect your website to some kind of user tracking mechanism. That is, connect your pages to Google Analytics, or some other tool to see what is happening on your site. Data mining is also a good option – sorry; I said everyman, didn’t I?

This connectivity will give you the ability to respond accordingly; you know, if you are able to adequately decipher what is happening and then have the website technology to respond accordingly.

Practical, powerful tip number four: Always respond accordingly.

Let’s be clear. A site visitor “counter” is not technology. Nor is any number of open source freeware. But there is some good techie stuff out there. You just have to know how to find it. Better yet, keep reading this article and get the goods on what is good technology and what is a goose chase.

Here’s a quick list of good widget-type shareware and sites to grab for your bookmark and to help you respond accordingly:

1. Projectwhois – This downloadable tool bar will help you understand more about your own and other people’s sites.
2. (also affectionately known as the Way Back Machine) – This will let you see the Internet past and help you learn from yours and others mistakes.
3. The Alexa toolbar – This site lets you see your ranking, as well as give you insight as to where you are positioned in relation to your competition.
4. Did I mention Google and (if you use this browser) Firefox also have several “add ons” that can give you free metrics.

Practical, powerful tip number five: User generated content is king.

While the Internet is largely visually driven, and rightfully so, only good content will get you ranked where you want to be. And I’m not talking about tricks like hidden text or spamming meta tags; rather, I’m talking about honest to goodness keyword density and meta tag relevancy.

If you are able to create compelling text and reliable, relevant meta tags to go along with it, you are halfway there. The other half is to have other people generate relevant content for you.

By focusing your efforts on capturing “user” content such as blogs, forums, uploading text and other methods, you’ll be able to create better engagement, save yourself time in generating your own stuff, and have more of it to show off to returning visitors. Mostly, though, web crawlers love content.

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