I’m often asked by people what a website should contain in terms of its features and functionality. Changes in technology have changed the content and structure of websites so that one developed say five years ago is not going to cut it today.
So, here goes. These are my recommendations as to what you should be looking for in a website were you to commission one today.
Content Management Platform
The days when small business websites were built as static sites using software such as Dreamweaver or equivalent, are long gone. Even the smallest site should be designed in such a way that it can be modified by you, the customer, and updated easily. Start small and grow. Modify and improve the design over time as fashions and technological changes demand.
In the old days, if you wanted a website makeover, that usually involved a complete rebuild. Usually that is no longer the case if a website has been built on a content management platform such as WordPress, the most popular of such systems. The look, and even menu structure, can usually be changed without touching the content.
A content management platform will allow your website to start small and grow without major expense.
All sites should have a page, or pages, that can be frequently updated with news, opinions, content to clarify the business, and content to inform potential customers. This can take the form of a blog or news page. Either way, it should be a section of the site where you add to content and, optionally, site visitors can post comments. This lets you to hold an online dialogue with your site visitors.
Blogs open up a whole new dimension that the old fashioned static websites never did.
With more and more people looking at websites on handheld devices such as tablet computers and smart phones, it is essential that a website can be easily viewed on such devices without having to scroll sideways and expand the view to read the text.
The technical term for a design that adapts to the width of the screen, and scales and sizes accordingly, is “responsive design”, Today, if you have a site that is not responsive then you could be missing out on a large proportion of potential visitors and customers.
If you’re just commissioning a new website, do not settle for anything less than a fully responsive design. If you already have a website and it isn’t responsive, think seriously about getting it redesigned as soon as possible.
Your website will be much more effective if it is designed to be responsive.
So that’s my take on what you should look for. Don’t settle for anything less that these three key features when you commission a new website.