Designing Your Website (Part 1) - Basic Considerations
Considerations | Web Site Content | Search Engines | Our Services
There are various issues which
any business needs to address before plunging headfirst into the scary
world of website design. Adopt the correct strategy and you will
soon have a booming business with many thousands of visitors per week
and people recommending your site to all their friends. On the
other hand, adopt the wrong strategy and not only will you put
customers off coming to your site, but they might lose confidence in
your business even if you already have a strong off-line presence.
This guide aims to give
you a basic understanding of where to start and what you need to
consider before putting your business into the hands of website
Understand Your Target
Any business needs to
understand their target audience including not only what information
they need to provide to their customers, but what information people
will actually seek. For example, if your business is related to
providing services to pensioners, you have to ask the question as to
whether they will have internet access and if so, what forms of
accessibility can you incorporate to suit their needs (for example
larger clearer fonts and colours). Studies tend to show that
older people prefer to use a search tool to find what they want on a
website rather than navigating around a website for example.
You can use website
visitor statistics once your website is up and
running to see where most of your visitors are coming from (are they
from overseas or not) and also the type of search terms which are used
to find your website. However, this does not necessarily tell you
what people will come to your website looking for. Regular
monitoring of search statistics and which pages it refers people to can
help you adapt the content of your pages to ensure that you are
catering for the people who are referred to your site or even just
guide them in the right direction, by forming partnerships or affiliate
advertising links with other sites which are more relevant to the
search terms being used.
As a result, you need
to create a web site which can be easily adapted to make it more user
friendly and also invite feedback from your customers through tools
such as guest books and forms to find out whether they are unable to
navigate your website and find what they actually want, or whether you
are attracting the wrong client base. A customer survey is always
a good point if you are looking to revamp an existing website.
It is your customers
and target audience which should dictate the overall design of your web
site and business, not your own opinions. In this way, people
will find your site much more user friendly and find the products and
services which they are looking for.
Accessibility of Your Web Site
Tools such as screen
readers and the ability to alter font size are now widely available and
may be built into your browser already (Opera includes the Voice
facility) and both Opera and Internet Explorer allows you to change the
text size for example. However, it is surprising how some sites
belonging to design companies do not support the simple ability to
resize the text and do not provide ALT tags for images, which are used
by screen readers.
Another problem faced
by screen readers is the move by affiliate providers towards using
Flash and therefore you have lost another potential sale. You
will also need to consider people who cannot use a mouse, or who have a
text only web browser.
online businesses as much as any other
business. Here in the UK, that means that under the terms of the
Disability Discrimination Act , it is unlawful to discriminate against
a disabled person by refusing to provide any service which you provide
to members of the public. A legally binding code of practice from
the Disability Rights Commission states that in the terms of this Act,
a web site is providing a service, even if it only provides information.
Google have now added
to the importance of this, by releasing a version of their search
engine for the
visually impaired and blind, which rates web sites on the basis of
accessibility as well as their normal page rank. It tends to
favour pages with few visual distractions and pages that are likely to
render well with images turned off. The W3C publishes numerous
guidelines including Web Content Access
Guidelines that are helpful for Website owners and authors. Broad
adherence to these guidelines is one way of ensuring that sites are
We are happy to provide
an unbiased view on your website's ease of use, accessibility and
appeal through our proof reading and site
testing services. We are also able to advise on simple
changes which should be made to your website to make it more accessible
to a wider range of internet users.
Business and Website Names
The name which you
for your business is all important. You want to create a brand
which people will readily recognise and trust, whilst ensuring that you
are not confused with any other business.
You have to be
careful of what is known as "passing off", whereby your company name or
logo is so like another existing company's name or logo, providing a
similar service, as to cause confusion to the average consumer
(commonly described after a comment by the infamous Lord Denning as
"the man on the Clapham Omnibus"). This may of course also be a
problem for your business if someone else attempts to pass themselves
off as your company (or part of it).
If you need
assistance with designing a logo for your Company, we have found that
high quality design service.
We have a separate
with advice on protecting
your ideas, including trademarks and brands.
When deciding on the
name for your business, you also need to bear in
mind a catchy address for a website. When you do this, you have
to bear in mind the chances that someone will mistype your website
address and whether this might lead to one of your competitors, or
someone who has tried to clone your website.
It is also imperative
that you check with your website hosting provider that the
canonical name of your website will work as well as the name beginning
www. (for example, people can access this website by typing either
www.internetbusinessangels.com or internetbusinessangels.com into their
browser). It is amazing how many people try the shorter form.
If you are going to
attract new customers and retain existing ones, you need to reassure
your visitors that you offer a reputable and reliable service.
It is all too easy to create a nice flashy website without too much
many people who browse the internet regularly are aware of this and
tend to look
for well known brands and companies.
It is therefore
important to promote
any brands by which you are known, as well as considering forming
with other well known companies or trade bodies. This may be
form of adding a link to their website to check your status, or through
of an affiliate program.
This can also prove a
useful source of additional revenue if you pick partners who will be of
interest to your website visitors (for example, a website advertising
the services of a carpenter would be well advised to include a link to
B&Q using their affiliate program).
It is also imperative
that you provide full contact details. People tend to steer away
from sites which only have a
contact form, a PO Box address or an email contact as it can be
difficult to trace current contact
details for the actual owner of a website. There are legal
regulations which dictate what information you must provide when
detailing your company on letterheads and invoices - we have always
recommended that the same information should appear on websites.
In fact, this has now
been incorporated into the UK's Companies Act 1985 with effect from 1st
January 2007 in respect of websites. Basically the information required
for a trading company is:
- Full Company name,
and Registered Office Address if a limited company (even if the trading
name is different)
- If the website is
owned by a limited Company which is exempt from having to use the word
"Limited" in its name, then the contact details must specify that the
company is Limited.
- Company registration
number and where registered (eg. "Registered in England and Wales")
- If a sole trader,
then stipulate "Joe Bloggs trading as ABC"
- If an investment
company, then the website must state this
- If a partnership,
then use the full partnership trading name (including if it is a
Limited Liability Partnership - LLP).
- A contact postal
- If you list one
partner's name in a partnership, then you need to list ALL partners
- The VAT registration
number if you are VAT registered
Also recommended are:
- A landline telephone
- An email address for
orders and another for customer services or queries
- The country in which
you are registered or where you trade in the main
- Which county's laws
are applicable to any sales contracts
- Terms and conditions
of trading and return of items
Business Link includes
the E-commerce regulations and you may also wish
to visit the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) website for Frequently
the Companies Act.
It can also be useful
include a short précis of the history of your trading,
particularly if you have been established for a number of years.
guestbook can also be useful, for previous customers to leave
or bad), although do not expect many people to complete entries on this.
and conditions of any orders should be clearly stated somewhere on your
(with a clear link from your home page, order page and contact
may be able to get a set of standard terms and conditions for your type
business from any representative trade organisation, although these
need to be
read over carefully in the light of your personal circumstances.
cannot find a set of standard terms and conditions, have a look at
by your competitors and seek legal advice on adapting these to suit.
should also consider some form of guarantee - take a look at the
standard for returns and ensure that your policy is clearly stipulated
contact and order pages. Also, talking of ordering, you should
consider how you are to accept payments. It is imperative that
a method of payment either by
direct bank transfer or cheque, as well as credit
card payment, as many people are still averse to making credit card
over the internet.
When it comes to
designing your website, the main considerations are how it looks to
general users, how easy it is to navigate (find
what you are looking for) and how search engine friendly it is.
many people who offer a website design service, but before you embark
on such a
project, you need to consider the sites those companies have created in
and how long they promise to maintain the site for after the initial
You also need to
consider whether any advertising which appears on your website is
pertinent to the website content, and whether it merges with your site,
or overwhelms the visitor so that they quickly lose interest in your
own content. For this reason, it is usually inadvisable to use free web space (which generally adds its
own advertising content over which you have no control). However,
you may wish to explore all of the various options available under affiliate advertising schemes and
particularly programmes such as Google Adsense which can be
incorporated into your website without being too obvious or imposing.
- Consider your
target audience and compare this against the types of visitors
attracted to your website.
- Simple and various
forms of navigation can help users find what they are looking for.
- Ensure you provide
legal information about your business / company, including contact
details and a privacy statement to reassure your customers.
- Use a secure form of
ordering / placing credit card orders.
- Take steps to
protect your business name, logo and products
- Ensure your website
is accessible for people who may have a disability
- Get your website
proof read and thoroughly tested on a range of internet browsers
- Avoid too much
flashy content - concentrate on your main themes and products
- Consider SEO - Search Engine Optimisation and how to
ensure that your site attracts customers
- Above all, ensure
that your website is current and can easily be updated to correct
errors, add new content and remove content that is out of date.
You may wish to consider using a Content Management System for this,
but typically these will not produce output which is optimised for
search engines to drive visitors to your website.
devoted to what you should consider when looking at the Website Content.