By Rob Finnie, Regional Director, Nettl

You may be taking your first steps to getting your business online, or be ready to upgrade your site so it works faster and smarter for your business. Whilst keeping your business objectives, target audience and budget in mind, it can be a daunting and time consuming process.

In this article, I will highlight the top ten things to consider when navigating your way to an online presence that works for you.

1. Go Responsive
This is priority number one for any new web project. 2015 will see more visits to websites via mobile and tablet devices than via desktops. Your site needs to adapt, scale and reflow to suit the device it’s being viewed on – or you may turn your clients off.

2. Use Open Source Platforms
Building your site in Open Source (Wordpress for example) allows you to learn and manage the site yourself. If you change web developer, you can’t be held to ransom if you need further development to your site.

3. Check out the competition
Benchmarking yourself against your competition saves you time and cost. Check out how you measure up before building your own site. And don’t be blinded by beauty; a good website has a perfect balance of content, function, navigation and good looks.

4. Plan your Customer journey – keep it simple
Keep prospects interested. Where do they want to go? What information do they need to take the next step? Plan their route through your website and lead them there. Only include relevant text, facts and imagery.

5. Include Calls-to-Action
If you’re creating a website to gather leads or interact with potential customers, make sure you’re clear on what you want your prospects to do. Calls to action help you monitor your conversion ratio. If you want them to contact you, show them how.

6. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Content is king; ensure your site has relevant content which includes your key words. There are many tools, to guide you though the ‘on-site’ requirements to help your site rank well. Do it yourself, or get your agency to do it for you. Keep content concise.

7. Blogging and social media
Not only does it make Google happy, but it’s also a way to connect with your audience, state your views and keep prospects up to date on your activities and services. Link in your social media - the more connected you are the wider your reach.

8. Don’t assume instant traction
Your site is live; it looks great, the message is clear - but that doesn’t mean people are going to find it. The design, build and launch are just the beginning. Plan how you are going to market your new site both online and offline. Get the message out via direct mail and leaflets as well as SEO.

9. Ask for feedback
Canvas opinion of how your site works. Is the site portraying the right message, is it guiding prospects to take action with you? If it isn’t, change it. Test it. Monitor the analytics and make regular tweaks and changes to improve the customer experience.

10. Think ahead and maintain
Ensure that your site is built on strong foundations so it can grow with your business. You don’t want to have to start again and pay again just to add that feature you like. Don’t sit back and think ‘job done’. The best websites evolve and are updated regularly. Plan your next steps.