Establishing an Online Presence

Putting Up a Business Web Site

Written by Ankur Hazarika for Gaebler Ventures

Whether your business requires online presence or not, it is essential to put up a neat and informative web site by the time business has begun. Three components of the web site -- layout, sections, and content -- should be carefully considered.

The moment you leave a meeting after handing over your business card to a prospective customer, trade partner, logistics partner, etcetera, chances are that he will type your URL into his browser.

Everyone wants to do the check-up on a new company to know its standing; especially if they intend to be commercially associated with it. As such, it is essential to create an informative Web site by the time you have your business running.

The visitor will not put forth too much effort to go though huge pages of information you might put up; neither will he give you a second chance if he finds sections missing. All the essential sections should be readily available, the information should be concise and non-cluttered, and the layout should be pleasing and navigable.

An e-commerce site would require a lot of additional perspectives on design, but the following basics would apply to all:

  • Limit the width and the height of the Web site so the main content (including homepage) lies within the top viewable area (about 600x600 pixels). This will make content stand out without unneeded scrolling.
  • Set the pages to shrink and expand with the size of the browser so that the horizontal scroll bar is avoided.
  • Use standard fonts (Calibri, Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif are common) and limit the font size to 11 or 12 points for content that needs reading.
  • Tabs of main sections should appear on every page to aid navigation without browsing back and forth. Search engines cannot index a site if it has complex and non-standard navigation. This will cause the site to suffer on search engine citations.
  • Many individuals like to customize the Web site according to their favorite colors. Just keep in mind that this should not be uncomfortable to someone who wants to spend some time on your site. The best way to know this is to test the site out on some people, and let them give you the verdict.
  • Do not embed any heavy graphics or media on the main pages of your portal; this slows browsing capabilities, causing irritation to the visitor who wants to have a thorough look.

There are certain sections that are essential to every portal. These sections should not only contain the standard content, but also be named in the standard way for search engine optimization (SEO).

  • Labeling the Contact us section with something innovative like Here we are would confuse both the viewer and the search engines. Some of the standard sections that your portal should contain are Home, About us, Services / Products, Contact us, Site map, and Jobs. Less standard, yet desirable sections are FAQ, Search, Press and media, Privacy policy, Help and Feedback.
  • The information in the sections should be concise and non-cluttered. Details should be available in inner pages if the viewer wishes to explore. It is enough to write one page on the main products and services section so the reader can have a snapshot without being bogged down with details.
  • It is a good idea to hyperlink the headings to pages containing details. All sections need not be filled to the brim with content. For example, although the Jobs section may say No jobs in the current quarter, its presence makes readers aware of this information.
  • The About us page should contain detailed information about the company profile, management and board, investors (if you are able to divulge that information), vision/mission, company policies and customers. This is one section that most commercially interested visitors will visit. Pay ample importance to this section.

During the initial phase of the launch of the Web site, collect a lot of personal feedback. Document and incorporate this feedback to allow for the most optimal user experience.

Ankur Hazarika is currently studying at the School of Management, Indian Institute of Technology (SJMSOM, IIT B), in Mumbai, India. He has been closely associated with a host of entrepreneurship networks like NEN, TiE and BarCamp, and has worked with the Indian business incubator, Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE).

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