10 Strategic Tips for Creating Your Website

09/10/2013 06:11 pm ET | Updated Nov 10, 2013

A website is an important component to the success of your business. Today's consumer is a much smarter shopper, especially with the introduction of social media networks. When researching a product or company the first place a shopper likely turns to is the company's website. Your website gives you an official and legitimate voice that the social media networks often times lack. There also is an air of suspicion when a company doesn't have a presence online and a company website gives your business instant credibility. Here are ten tips for creating a functional website. Even if you already have a website established, you may want to think about enhancing it.

1. Set some goals. Before you get started, think about what you'd like to achieve with your website. Drive sales? Create an information hub for visitors? Have some goals in mind that help set the tone for developing your website. It also helps you provide clear direction of where you want to go and the features you will need to include.

2. Identify your target audience. This is easier said then done. Sometimes you'll want to please everyone under the sun. However, if you're able to segment your audience this will determine how you structure your website. Working in the marketing industry, I've seen this mistake happen many times before. A company complicates their website with too many things that a user doesn't need. It's a strategic mistake that could have easily been remedied with understanding the people who will be viewing and using your website.

3. Consider your brand. Your brand should also play a big part in developing your website. The look and feel of your site should reflect your brand. If your brand is lively and fun, then those elements should also live on your website. Things like colors, imagery and tone should also be taken into consideration.

4. Add a touch of professionalism. Invest in the time to create a functional and professional looking website. Sometimes all it takes to make an impression is one look at the aesthetics. Have you ever heard about a product and then gone to the website only to discover it was poorly constructed and looked cheap? Did it make you think twice about purchasing anything from that company because the way the site looked?

5. Make navigation simple. Why complicate things for users? You want users to easily navigate through your website to reach their and your end-goals. The more complicated you make things and the more steps you include, the less likely users will complete your processes. Is your website responsive to mobile devices as well?

6. Content is king. You've heard this before. I can't stress enough how important this is. You want users to keep coming back to your site which means you need to refresh your content and make it interesting for them. Let's say you go to a website and you see a picture. Now let's say you go back every day for a week and you only see the same picture. Would you keep going back to the site? Or would you keep coming back knowing that the picture changes daily?

7. Build an e-mail database. As a marketer, I am always looking for ways to extend the conversation and keep current and potential customers informed of my products and services. Building a database of users who are allowing you to email them these updates is one way to do this. It also increases the functional value of your website -- not only is it there to market and push product, but now you are also using it as a forward-thinking sales tool and another means of drawing traffic back to your site.

8. Connect to your social networks and other relevant links. I like doing this for several reasons. First, it aids in building your social community. This creates more consumer touch points for you. This also works reversely since someone on social media may not be actively seeking out your website, but if you are part of the conversation, users have a landing point to purchase or get more information. Second, it shows that you're ready to engage with consumers who now have other avenues to communicate with you. Lastly, it helps with your website's SEO.

9. Speaking of SEO, optimize your site. The more you mind this area the higher your website's ranking will be for organic searches. There are many ways to improve upon your SEO and if you want to drive traffic to your website then you'll want to consider this when creating and maintaining your website.

10. Set up analytics. I prefer Google Analytics since it's very user-friendly. GA aids in pinpointing your audience(s) and gives you insight on how to manage your website. Analytics will tell you such things as how long someone has stayed on a particular page in your website, where your traffic is coming from, demographic data and much more. It's a helpful tool in maximizing the efficiency of your website.