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Mapping An Effective Business Website

Daniel Ceniceros, Founder and CEO of Connect Commercial Real Estate.

A well-executed business website is considerably more than a digital Rolodex card. The days of the static website are long gone. Today’s sites are interactive and relay your brand, culture, people and services. They may even be point-of-sale platforms transacting millions of dollars of business. Now consider that your website will be viewed on multiple platforms with differing screen resolutions. With so much on the line, how can you be sure you are getting it right?

In my profession, I am aware of the challenges and potential pitfalls when guiding clients through the website development process. Our time spent transacting business online has leapfrogged, requiring websites to be not just an engaging front-end experience. The back end, or server side, is also critical and must provide security, be constantly maintained and be built to scale.

Here are a few pointers to bear in mind as you map out your business site and move forward with implementation.

Best Practices

An effective business website gives your customer a clear description of who you are, quickly showcases your experience and generates business. It is an introduction to your brand and first impressions count. You may have only a few seconds to convince that visitor that they have found the right resource. A site that contains elements that make it searchable alongside a memorable yet simple domain is best. So, a call to action on the landing page, an easily navigated site map and a universal search bar are crucial guides that compel a visitor to stay longer and move deeper into the site. If you are selling a product, you may also wish to insert a chat box to allow customers to connect with a live representative in real time.

Dive Deep

To get a basic understanding of site building, think of an iceberg. On the surface, the iceberg is relatively small and contains just enough visual information to tell you exactly what it is. As you descend into the deep, however, you become amazed at the unexpected breadth and depth of its structure. That analogy fits well: On the home page, you are viewing “the tip of the iceberg.” Top-line information, the who, what, where, when, why and how, should be clearly organized, accessible and easily digestible. Seekers taking a deep dive into your site should be rewarded with more complex content. You increase leverage with customers by providing white papers, case studies, financial performance and other metrics to express worth and differentiate yourself in the market.

Developing Versus Revising

Developing a site from scratch is a holistic effort where business analysis, creativity and technology are equally important. Consider value proposition. What are your business goals? How will you portray your brand? Will you be selling a product through the site? Is your customer base international, requiring multilingual translations? A business analysis is critical before you begin the design process.

When revising an existing website, on the other hand, it’s important to ask, “What problem am I trying to fix?” An existing website requires careful analysis. You don’t want to jump in and start moving nodes and pages without a good look under the hood. It’s important to have a clear idea of your website’s traffic and use since you may want to highlight areas that already receive high traffic. You can place analytic tools in the back end of the site for a few weeks to allow time to gather and study the data.

Dynamics And Optimization

One thing that may not be clear to many is the distinction between a website that is optimized for mobile and one that is designed for a mobile experience. A website built for mobile may be pared down, contain less dynamic visual content and/or be structured for easier access on that screen resolution. This goes beyond responsive design. Keep in mind that today half of all websites are experienced on a mobile device. Many use their smartphones as their sole computer. My advice is to make sure your website can deliver a true mobile experience versus one that is just “mobile-optimized.” Many businesses recognize this trend and are designing for mobile-first right out of the gate.

Under The Hood

The back end is critical to the continuous operation of your website. This includes hosting and security, which are commonly viewed as ways to cut costs. Don’t do it! With the rise of millions of malicious bots designed to bring down websites every day, your server and security matter. Given the 24-hour surveillance needed to safeguard critical infrastructure, hosting fees earn their keep. A 2020 report by McAfee estimated that cybercrime had cost the global economy $1 trillion, so it certainly is not an area to take lightly.

In line with this, you may want to avoid “website builder” platforms bundled with inexpensive hosting. Although you may save initially, those templated sites are not easily portable when your needs move beyond their capabilities, and the entire website may need to be rebuilt. You will face escalated costs upgrading to a more sophisticated and secure website.

Although it may seem daunting to develop a business website that meets your needs today and anticipates for tomorrow, it is a manageable task. You know your business best, so it is a matter of working with a capable team and articulating your goals and needs to develop an engaging, safe and secure online presence.


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https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2022/01/24/mapping-an-effective-business-website/