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A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Elizabeth Parks, Wyoming Market Research Center researcher
"I hired a web developer to design my website, but nobody can find it on the Internet. What happened?" Sam, Torrington
Websites are a hot topic these days because they are your word of mouth, your advertising and your customer service all rolled into one. They really are a new model for management.
The trouble is that they are always changing. We used to build things to last, but now we build things to change. We have to listen to customers and be willing to change to meet their needs. Google Gerry McGovern and read his "Web Experience: From Built to Last to Built to Change" article. He is an international author and consultant on the subject of content management.
The old style of reading from left to right is not how people view Web pages anymore. Customers don't read -- they scan. They first look at headings and subheadings, and then scan for hyperlinks, numerals and keywords. They jump around, scrolling and clicking -- their fingers are never far from the browser's "back" button. Customers truly are impatient these days.
The number one design principle for a website is simplicity. A website should be designed to make life easier for the reader to find content and also to read. The goal is to get the right content to the customer as quickly as possible.
If the content on your page is scattered and not formatted properly, has poorly named headings or content has too much fluff that makes it harder for customers to find information, they just might pass you by.
I talk to a lot of people about their websites, both business owners and web developers. The underlying problem is that people do not really understand that they are ultimately responsible for the content on their own website.
Web developers really don't know your business and will most likely not know how to market it for you. They will design a site, but the business owner is responsible for providing the actual content. The owner is responsible for providing keywords, titles and descriptions for web pages. Images, videos, links and social media all are included in a marketing strategy plan.
If customers can't find you, take a good hard look at your website and see where it could be improved. The Wyoming Market Research Center can help you with that process.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email email@example.com or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.