How to Get the Most Out of Your Website
by Matthew Ryan
All websites demand an appropriate amount of attention and commitment from their owners or managers. This is because almost all websites serve a distinct purpose that can only be met by persistent effort, updating, and assessment. To begin any discussion on the best way to get the most out of a website requires a simple acknowledgement of the fact that a successful website takes hard work.
The trick is learning how to choose the tasks that can make the work more effective and yet also a bit easier. If you are looking to get a great ROI (return on investment) from your website, you have to start at the very beginning.
Essential First Steps
If you begin the process of building a website based on a primary purpose or goal you will be off to the best start possible. Remember that it is very easy to choose conflicting purposes such as building the brand while also attempting to sell secondary products or services. You can use a website to do one or the other, but not both. Decide what the “bottom line” intention of your website is supposed to be, and then stick with it.
The next important method to use to get the most out of any website is the application of logic. Consider how chaotic a website can become when it seems to use no “rhyme or reason” in the navigational areas. For instance, never just list the sections in the sidebar and assume that a visitor will want to read through a huge column of titles or headers that may only suggest the next best direction.
Many professional website designers actually draft a structural illustration of the site to ensure that it “flows” smoothly. For instance, a chart can show the Home Page as the top of the pyramid structure with lines flowing down to the Content Pages, Products or Services Pates, FAQ, Contact, News, and About Pages. From these areas there will be more lines flowing down to illustrate the pages connected to them, and any interrelated areas as well.
Using this approach can often make it much easier to understand unnecessary or irrelevant items, and to arrange all of the content in the most logical manner possible. Usually this also leads to a good system for navigation.
Navigation and Content
Most website navigation uses a menu or tabs. Having a very clear structural plan (as described above) allows you to layout the site in a manner that is convenient to navigate. It will direct clients immediately to the content areas that they require, but all of these areas must be supported by the last essential part of the equation – the up to date and relevant content.
By pre-planning the entire site, you will be able to understand the strongest locations for the different bits of content. This organized approach will also make it much easier to go right ahead and keep the site’s content up to date, current, and full of the different terms, keywords, or SEO materials that generate tons of effective traffic. It is this traffic that is the goal of the site, and if you create a good foundation you will be sure to get the most out of the site as possible.