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Specific tips for web development

Are you prepared to roll up your sleeves today?

We've heard enough about web 2.0. About building meeting places for customers online. About making all website visitors involved - but you still haven't done anything about it. Today we'll talk a bit more about what you can do to customize and update your web pages.

Here are 9 tips:

1. Determine the purpose of the website before you get caught up in the general news hysteria and throw yourself into the Web 2.0 bubble and start building online communities and forums for your visitors. First you need to be clear about why you should do it. It makes no sense to spend lots of money to “keep up” with other sites. Your website might work splendidly as it is with only 3-4 pages of information. If it already attracts the kind of traffic you want, you can stop reading here. Otherwise - please carefully consider the strategic objectives you want to achieve with the website. On that basis, it's easier to evaluate everything you can do.

2. Do your homework. What have you heard customers say that they want from you? What do you like abut other websites that you visit? Surf the net and record what others do well - and do the same thing. If YOU like it, chances are that your visitors do, too. Let this take time - use a couple of months to gather ideas, then ask a few customers what they would most like from what you have come up with.

3. Avoid reinventing the wheel - it already exists. If you are planning to tear down the walls of your website, make sure that you are building a new one that works better. Follow the standard that is already established on the web. Quite simply – if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

4. Use 90% of the time to create/change the content on the website. Yes, the content is the reason for us visiting your website. Upload new product images. Show them big and small. Make them downloadable for the press. Take care of the questions customers often ask and answer them directly on the website. Today, you also know a lot more about your visitor's reasons for visiting you. What can you do more for them?

5. Put on your project manager hat. A project such as building a website needs a firm hand. You must have a clear plan where aspects such as time and money are included. And most importantly - a deadline for when the website will be completed and released (you can dab endlessly with the website). Better something good today than something perfect tomorrow!

6. Beware of committees. Invite people to comment and make suggestions, but be prepared that almost everyone will think differently from you. Listen for constructive criticism that will help you achieve the objectives of the website and then filter out the general arbitrary process by asking the right questions:
- “Our goal with the website is to... etc. Do you think that the changes support the goal? If so, why? If no, why not?”

7. Switch systems. If you don't have a website where you can modify the most important things (CMS - Content Management System), I advise you to get one. It's time to take the leap from your daily communication with a web designer to learning the basic stuff yourself - it's  actually very easy (even I understood how to do it).

8. Create the website to last at least five years. It takes a lot of work to re-build a website and therefore it's good that you are thinking long term and trying to implement the ideas for the future already today.

Well, now you know what to do…

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
You run a small business and you want to get ahead of the competition, but how can you give resources to marketing when you're short on time and the budget is tight? The solution is here! The 5-Minute Marketer is packed with 395 tried-and-tested ways to market your business in 5 minutes or less.