Websites can be sexy you know!

2014-06-24 11:38

Four out of the Top Five Global Brands for 2013 are in the technology sector: (1) Apple (2) Google (3) Coca Cola (4) IBM (5) Microsoft.  Well done to Coca Cola for being 3rd but it shows just how dominant this sector has become.

Websites like cellphones are now an integral part of our everyday lives. Most people surf the web but seldom think about how the 1000s websites they have visited were created. This very article is published on www.news24.com; one of South Africa’s favourite websites. I visit the site at least two or three times per day because I find it a valuable source of information. But this website and others were not always there. So it is worth revisiting some of the basics of websites and why it will become increasingly important.

The very first website went live in August 1991 – that’s only 23 years ago. Based on the statistics available, we are now fast approaching the 1 billion mark of websites on the web– and when there (estimated to be there by the end of 2014) we will basically have 1 website for every 7 people on the planet. Astonishing! How long will it take us to reach the 2 billion mark- 5 years? I won’t be surprised.

There are effectively five components to constructing a website. The first step would be to secure the domain of your choice. Let’s say the name of your business is Andy’s Plumbers, you may wish to set up the website as www.andysplumbers.co.za. Even before you choose a name for your business, check the names of existing companies providing a service or product similar to yours. You may be in for surprise when you discover that there is already a business with that exact name. Ask anyone who had to come up with a name for a business – can be tricky!

It also makes sense to choose your hosting company at the beginning of the process. You should be able to check on their websites whether the domain name you have in mind is still available and if so, can register you or your business as its owner. Once the website has been completed, it will be published on the servers (computers that delivers or serves up web pages) of the hosting company to make it accessible to the worldwide web.

The first creative step though is to write the content. To do this effectively the copywriter (the person who writes your written content) needs to understand the business, its environment and the target market. The content gives the website its personality and is part that the visitor engages with.  It will influence the duration of the visits and the likelihood of repeat visits. The content should be written in a way that is search engine (most notably Google) friendly.

The next creative step involves the design of the website. This includes the ‘look and feel’ and functionalities- or the part that the visitor sees. The written text combined with the colours, images creates a visual feel whereas the navigation enables the visitor to move between the pages. The idea is to capture visitors’ attention and encourage them to make use of the services or products.

The final creative step is the implementation of the design also known as development. This refers to the programming or coding that enables the website functionality. It follows then that there has to be effective communication between those responsible for various creative steps.

When all parties are happy, the site can be published. The cost of the website will vary depending on the structure (e.g. number of pages) and the functionalities required. Can you do it yourself? Yes you can. But as with anything in life, the final result will depend on your skills levels and time you have available to devote to an important project of this nature.

There are many benefits to having a website and the idea is not to give an exhaustive list. Consider these factors when you are faced with a decision whether to get a website and which option to go for: It is an online office where visitors can come 365 days of the year, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Potential customers can familiarise themselves with the service/products and previous projects. Websites can serve as a recruitment, marketing, sales and customer service platform. It is also a good starting point for potential investors to get information about the business. Traditional marketing methods have its place, but online marketing methods can reach larger markets quicker at considerably lower costs.

People increasingly do research online these days before they go out and buy a product or make use of a service. In other words, the better the business’ web presence, the more visible it will be to those needing its services. The Internet is a phenomenal source of information and not tapping into its power is a significant drawback for any business.

The best websites are those that are exciting, stimulating, interesting, appealing and intriguing –and what is the one word to describe all of that? Sexy!

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