Buckle Your Website Seatbelt

By Stacy Cornay for the Times-Call
Publish Date: 02/22/2015

We screamed, “Do it again!”

So Mom did. Back in pre-seatbelt days, my buddies and I lay on folded-down seats in the back of our station wagon while Mom gunned the engine, then hit the brakes. We slid and rolled and bounced off one another until we ended up in a pile of giggling little girls. It was great fun.

It also was borderline dangerous and something I wouldn't even consider doing when I'm driving. Why? Because of societal indoctrination, I can't get in a car without immediately fastening the seatbelt. To do otherwise feels wrong.

I have the same feeling when I learn that a business doesn't have a website. It feels wrong. I have flashbacks to being in the back of a station wagon with my mother at the wheel. A business with no website is in for a bumpy ride.

So are businesses that have mediocre websites, sites that don't do the business justice, that don't do justice to products or services, that are hard to access, that are visually unappealing. When visitors to those sites don't find what they're looking for, they leave with negative impressions.

Websites are fundamental to effective marketing. Each website puts a public face on the business. Behind the public face is content. When it comes to websites, content rules. Outstanding marketers make content their starting point. Website designers determine how a site is laid out, how it is utilized and how it is monitored.

When websites first came on the scene, most business people needed experts to guide them through the complicated maze. Today there are numerous outlets and programs that facilitate a business designing its own site. That option may get the job done, but legions of professional website developers are out there for use when needed.

I've heard of some website developers who hold businesses hostage after the site is launched. They charge extravagantly for small changes or mid-stream corrections.

Businesses are well-advised to look before leaping. Check out before signing up.

Knowing what you expect from your website is critical to deciding whether to do it yourself or seek the assistance of a professional developer. Do you want to be able to update on a regular basis or would you prefer to have someone do it for you? Will you be using Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? If so, do you know how to set up your website for it? Do you use Google Analytics or some other program to objectively assess the effectiveness of your website? Are you comfortable with your knowledge of websites and their potential?

Be sure to incorporate social media in your pondering. Social media are catalysts. They're tools at your fingertips for driving interest to your website. Print ads, mailers and emails also complement websites. Don't forget to include your website address in all marketing and promotional materials.

When your website has been screened, created and is up and running, there is another critical step to be taken.

Monitoring – seeing your website as others see it, viewing it through the eyes of current and potential clients or customers, determining how frequently your site is visited, questioning its effectiveness, measuring it against competitor sites, soliciting reactions and feedback from focus groups, etc. What you see and hear will allow you to make timely updates and revisions.

Your website is a seatbelt for your business. You're much safer when it's fastened securely.

The alternative is to visualize your unbuckled business in the back of a station wagon speeding down I-25 with my mother behind the wheel.

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
Visit www.comm-concepts.com or call 303-651-6612.