Your Company's Web Site – Quality Approach
Author: Carla Reis
This is the second segment of a three-part series that addresses the guidelines on how to plan, present and develop your company's website. In part one; we explored the importance of having a professional website that represents your company online. In part two; we will identify the quality approach of planning your company's website.
Designing and developing a quality website. When you hire a team to create or redesign your company's website, keep in mind that the basic concepts of quality also apply. They are:
Leave space to grow and make what is good now even better. Your company will improve through the years and so should your website, but this does not mean you need a new design every year! Leave room for improvement; build a quality website that can be easily updated to reflect the changes in your company.
Value of Quality
A well-designed and developed website does not cost; it pays! This is an investment that will bring you return in the form of satisfied clients. On the other hand, the cost of a poorly developed website can be a price that most companies pay for unknowingly - that is the price of non-quality. If your company's website reflects the high standards of your company, it will bring you more clients; however, if your company's website does not mirror the image you are trying to build, it will drive visitors and potential clients away.
Nothing is worse than getting lost within in a poor quality website, or being on a site and unable to find the information you need. Or when text is difficult to read because of site colour combinations. Have you ever been frustrated after clicking on a link and finding that the page no longer exists?
These and other web site issues reflect on your company's image. If a website is not well built, it sends the message that your company is not well structured; if your website has dead ends, it suggests that your company is not well managed.
Raise the bar - provide a well-structured and managed quality website, and exceed your client's expectations.
A quality website must anticipate the needs of the visitor. Since a company representative is unavailable to deal with any prospective problems that may occur while a visitor is browsing your site, plan ahead and crosscheck all possible scenarios. Let's translate this into Quality terms:
1. Define the problem: Make a list of potential problems users may experience when browsing your website. This will maximize the solutions and keep a quality focus.
2. Generate alternative solutions: Once potential problems have been identified, make a list of possible solutions that deal with each problem. Implement this procedure to ensure that your visitors have an enjoyable visit to your site.
3. Evaluate and select alternatives: Choose a solution that is right for your website to ensure that your target audience will know what to expect should a problem arise, and how to use the feature you provided. It is unhelpful if the solutions you provide are causing a visitor more problems. Example: Your company manufactures hardware and a website visitor would like a copy of your catalog; you provide an online form for visitors to complete in order to receive the catalog in the mail. Sufficient? Not really. It may take a week for that catalog to reach your prospective client. Consider providing visitors with a version of the catalogue online that can either be printed or downloaded as a PDF.
4. Implement and follow up on the solution: Simply adding solutions will not fix the problem; you must ensure that each solution works. For example, if you request an online form be completed in order to download the above-mentioned PDF catalog, how can you be certain people are actually submitting the form? Are they finding it easy to complete? Are they hitting the "Submit" bottom and downloading the catalogue in PDF format? This is where "follow up" becomes important. But how can a company follow up if website visitors never submitted the form that would have allowed for an easy follow up in the first place? You (or your webmaster or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultant) should monitor the stats of your website and compare how many visitors your form page had against the visitors your PDF catalog page had. If you have 70% less visitors on your PDF catalog page than on your form page, this would suggest a problem that has not been thoroughly solved.
Planning for the Future
Plan your website to grow with your company. When a facility is built to house a company for 10 years, plans include a good-sized parking lot, ideal kitchen facilities, more than one washroom, several plugs for countless electronic devices, etc. The same rings true for your website- it should be built to evolve. As products and services develop, or contact information changes, your website changes too. Build to grow!
Quality Website -- Quality Assurance & Quality Control
A website design company should ensure that a website will be built to the complete satisfaction of the client (you), and be customized to that client's needs. Make sure your website is functional and user friendly, and that usability testing takes place. Usability testing is a form of website quality control, and it ensures that your site is visible by different types of browsers and that visitors will not get lost.
Finally, a website design company must provide good service and a custom product that matches all your needs. This does not have to cost a fortune, nor does the company requesting a new or redesigned website need to be a large one. Ask questions before committing to a design team; make sure they understand your needs. Check their portfolio and references. Nothing speaks louder than current clients who are satisfied with the results of their new website.
Summary: Planning a quality website and seeking the company that will undertake its creation is a major step in promoting your company and the products and services you offer. The same care you take in planning the growth of your company, and the quality provided by the products and/or services you offer should be transmitted in a professional, well-planned website. List your priorities. Search for a good design company. Discuss your company needs, products and services. Plan for the future.
Quest Quality Solutions
About the author
Carla Reis is the President of Quest Quality Solutions, a company specialized in Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine friendly website design and development. Carla has a Bachelor Degree in Arts and a Diploma in Website Design; she also has several years of experience in Web site design, Search Engine Marketing and Optimization. Carla's experience with Web site design and Search Engine Optimization [SEO] began when she was the training manager for one of the biggest Search Engine Marketing companies in North America. She developed the company's training manual and SEO certification exams to better qualify the staff and deliver high quality services to the company's clients. After managing the training department and organizing the working flow and distribution for the company, Carla decided to venture on her own. She started her company in 2004 - Quest Quality Solutions. What began as a one-person business has expanded to a team of professionals and has been growing in a steady pace.
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