One of the problems anyone finding a supplier for their website is knowing who to use. There are many companies that will provide you with an superb website, that looks good, is accessible to all your visitors, standards compliant, easily found by the search engines, and really does the job you want. You can usually tell these suppliers because they are quick to mention all the items in this list. But you will be charged a fair fee for their service.
A problem is that many people have access to someone who will “set up your website” for a nominal fee because they are thinking of running their own business as a “web designer”. Some of these people while be highly talented and you will get a bargain. Unfortunately this is not always the case, and you will get a site that does not perform to your expectations. At some point your budding web designer will admit defeat, or you loose confidence in them and decide to seek help.
You could go to one of the excellent suppliers and have the entire site re-built from scratch. A good company will talk you through the options and may be able minimise any negative aspects by conserving existing names of resources. By separating out content and thematic appearance they will minimise the costs of any future redesigns too. If you do not understand what is meant by this statement, go and have a look at CSS Zen Garden and look at a few of the designs there!
The reality for many small businesses is that they simply do not have the budget for a complete rebuild of their website, but nor can they afford not to do anything at all. So what is to be done? The first free bit of advice: do not think that search engine optimisation is going to help you out of this problem, whatever the salesperson tells you. The first step has to be a thorough understanding of your business needs in-conjunction with a an equally thorough review of your website.
Here at Tech-Trends we have been developing our own 70 point checklist we go through when looking at clients sites. The type of problems we have identified include:
- More than three quarters of the site content was hidden from search engines due to very poor coding practice. Just changing the link coding method was all that was needed to give the site a tangible improvement in the way it was indexed by search engines.
- Dates of courses were obscured by an inappropriate page structure that did not allow users to browse courses or the use of images. A few simple changes increased the number of attendees (because they could now see what was on offer) and had course tutors competing for the best supporting images!
- On a technical website many of the specification sheets were out of date and not easily found by users. The coding quality was also very poor. On the other hand the site looked great and had a good menu structure. We built a Drupal “back end” to simplify the management of content while keeping the appearance unchanged. The upgrade to Drupal CMS also enabled customer facing product search capabilities and other useful features.
Please contact us if you think we may be able to help.