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An informal, stream-of-consciousness reflection on business ideas, events and issues in modern business, modern life and with some specifics to the web-software industry by Paul Tomori, Internet Entrepreneur

Top Ten Steps To Building A Great Business Website
By Paul Tomori
Wednesday, June 03, 2009 at 23:42:48 (EDT)

1. Less Sizzle. More Steak. Unless your website is specifically designed to entertain people (e.g. you are in the movie industry), the website should contain useful content that provides... information. Save your money. Do not build your website in Flash. A small Flash element here are there, ok, but do NOT build the website primarily in Flash.

2. Information First. Countless websites I have visited or been asked to build over the years put the information as a last priority. The focus is always on pretty graphics and presentation. Text is then "thrown together" as a kind of after-thought and then superimposed on the graphic design. What's up with that? Write the written content first.

3. Think Search Engine Optimization Upfront. Once your website goes live, you want people to find it, right? So, don't make the search engine optimization an afterthought. If your webmaster is not an SEO expert, then make sure you hire an expert to work with your webmaster as an advisor so that the website code is done properly in the beginning.

4. Hire An Expert Designer. If I had a dollar for every website design my company has done that was actually a re-design of someone else's failed attempt... Hey, wait a minute, I DO have a dollar (or more) for all of those situations! Unfortunately, the companies who paid me those dollars also paid an amateur to try first before they came to our company. Save your money and your frustration and get your website designed and launched fast and right the first time.

5. Forget Perfection - Launch The Website Already. Too many folks have a vision for their website that drags the project on forever. Meanwhile, they are squandering valuable time and losing valuable business by having the old 1996 website live. Or, worse, they have the dreaded "under construction" notice lingering forever. You can always launch with 10 menu items instead of 20, then add the desired additional sections after. No one will know your website is incomplete. You have simply phased the launch. This works. It also provides an opportunity to test-drive the basic design.

6. Have A Plan To Keep It Current. Make sure you have a plan for when updates and upgrades will be done. Diarize these dates and make sure that your plan is executed. A website that does not stay current will lose coveted repeat visitors in a big way.

7. Host The Website Professionally. Do NOT scrimp on the hosting service for your new website. What good is it to spend all that development money only to have your website's low performance, security and reliability constantly causing you grief.

8. Measure Everything. There are some great free tools and some even better paid tools for tracking website traffic, leads, conversions (i.e. sales), traffic origins, user activity, bailout-pages, and much more. What gets measured gets managed. You measure your sales and revenues and cashflow, right? Well, your website should be integral to your business... and as such, should be measured accordingly.

9. Test Your Website. Have a company experienced in conducting thorough reviews report on your website structure while you still have time to hold any errors up to your designer to have them correct things before they get their final paycheck from you.

10. Pay On A Milestone Basis. If you pay too much upfront, you might never see results. Holding back payments to reflect and compensate for design milestones is a great way to keep the process moving. Both the designer and you will be mutually compelled to keep the process underway right to completion.

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