Three ways to make sure your new business website doesn't suck

In this day and age, it's hard to find a business that doesn't have a website. Does your business have one? Does it present the right image of your company? Doing a good website isn't quite as simple as some would have you believe. Here's why...

A website is a reflection on you and your company. These days, it's often the first impression a potential customer gets, so you want to make it good.

There are plenty of companies whose websites are so bad, they'd probably do better without one. A bad website says you don't care about your business, that you do things on the cheap, or that you lack basic business sense. Whatever message a bad website might send, it's never a good one.

There are three simple keys to developing a business website that you won't be ashamed of. Will these keys win you any awards for coolest or most innovative site? Probably not. But they will help you create a site that won't send potential customers back to their Google search, looking for a business with a more professional-looking website. this get you any awards for your site? Probably not. But it's not going to turn off any of your potential customers either.

1. Get a professional looking design. This is not time to try a design-it-yourself solution or to let your teenage son design something for you. You need something professional, something sleek, and something in good taste. If you can't afford a real graphics designer, buy a template. There are literally thousands of web design templates out there, many of them free, lots for a very minimal cost. There are templates for all different publishing platforms, so no matter what software you use, you should be able to find a template.

2. Make the site easy to navigate. A grade school student should be able to easily find information on your website. No need to have fancy menus or confusing links. Make things easy to find, with simple navigation and intuitive menu headings. Most importantly, make sure your contact information is easy to find.

3. Include the human element. The internet has taken away a lot of personal contact for a lot of people. Your website doesn't have to be another nail in the coffin for social interaction. It doesn't have to be a plain, just the facts type of site. Include some information about the people who started the company or your current employees. Give the world some insight into your process. Do something to help make a personal connection between you and your reader.

Don't forget. If you're going to make a bad website, you're probably better off without one. But if you're committed to making a site that presents well and offers critical information about your company, give it a try. It's never been easier to make a professional-looking website for your business.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of C
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