IEONline

Guest Blog: Updating Your Website So That It Informs and Can Be Found

Many websites in the International Trade industries look like they have been forgotten. The images are dated, the text is stale and the graphic design looks tired. Even the copyright date is a few years old.

People running small businesses believe they are too busy to pay much attention to their website once it has been set up. And in many cases these websites may have been designed by the then-prodigy 12-year-old nerd in the family. Or, as I was recently told by the owner of a very successful export management company, “What do you mean my website needs to be updated? I stayed up all night for many weeks in 1991 designing it myself.”

A website is an organism – a constant work-in-progress that changes as your business, the world and technology changes. Sadly many international trade people are stuck back someplace in the 1990s. It is time to change.

The most important things that a good website offers are, in order of importance:

  1. Informative content
  2. Clear and concise messages about who you are and what you do
  3. Easy usability and navigation
  4. Pleasing graphics

These points seem to be common sense. But it is surprising how many websites, especially in the international trade field, offer very few of any of them.

Why you should develop a website with these principles in mind:

  1. Informative content means that you have text that tells the story of your company and products, using strategic keywords that will enable web users to find your website when using search engines such as Google. In general, search engines will index pages with at least 250 words, where the keywords appear in between 2-3% of the text.
  2. Have a dedicated “About Us” page that clearly explains who you are, where you are and what you do. It is best to be as specific as possible so that a visitor to your website understands that you are a serious and focused business. And, of course, the “About Us” page is also a good opportunity to include your keywords.
  3. A website cannot be used if its “usability” makes it too complicated. For a small site (less than about 15 pages) all that is needed is clear navigation on each page together  with a site map that serves as a table of contents for the site. More complex sites need more awareness of usability. But in essence, the important thing is to make sure that the average user understands what to find and how to find it on your website.
  4. Website graphics styles seem to change every few months. It is important to make sure that the color scheme and font type are pleasing to the eye. There are now many services such as WordPress that offer themes or design templates. Many of them are quite attractive. Best, of course, is to hire a professional graphic designer who understands web design, color combinations and fonts.

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