Five Tips for First-Time Website Owners

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It's no secret the Web continues to explode as a resource for consumers and businesses, and Web traffic is only going to grow. In fact, global Internet traffic is projected to quadruple by 2015. If you're a business, getting your company online has never been more important for growth and success. Yet surprisingly, 75% of U.S. businesses do not have a website.

For this reason, OfficeMax and Go Daddy teamed up to offer create five tips for first-time website owners.

1. Name Wisely - Choosing a name for your Web address is a critical element, as it is the foundation of your online presence. Select a short, easy to spell and memorable name that clearly reflects your business, products and/or services. If your ideal domain name is already taken, don't panic. Try adding a transition or generic word like "the" or "company," consider a different top level domain (e.g. .net, .org or .info) or backorder the domain name in case the current owner does not renew.

2. Make a First Impression - Create your website with the end-user in mind. Make it visually pleasing and easy to find information and navigate the site, since most users only spend 10-20 seconds on a page. Categorize your Web pages by topic and provide clear and logical navigation with a toolbar that runs horizontally or vertically on each page. Use language that is direct and easy to understand and reinforces your company mission and values. While it may look creative or exciting, try not to go overboard with animation, videos or other special effects, as it can increase the load time of your site and be distracting, which may deter visitors. Your website may be the only interaction a customer has with your company, so make the visit useful and worthwhile.

3. Be Accessible - Provide opportunities for potential customers to contact you without jumping through hoops by posting contact information on the main page of your site. Surprising, 60% of small business websites do not include a phone number on their homepages. While there are likely multiple ways to reach you from email to fax or Twitter, focus on contact methods that you want people to use and ones you monitor regularly. When it comes to your email, share one that you use for public inquiries, as it's possible spammers will find it, and keep your personal email addresses separate. 
 
4. Go Mobile - With more than 44% of U.S. consumers using smartphones to shop and research, make sure your website is also configured and optimized for mobile use. A whopping 93% of small business websites are not mobile friendly, which can result in lost business. If you find consumers visiting your site frequently from mobile devices, consider creating a mobile app for your business to better serve these customers.
 
5. Optimize It - Drive traffic to your site through search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines use algorithms to determine when and where your website comes up in search results. Major factors that improve SEO include the frequency and prevalence of keywords on your site and "tagging" select terms. SEO can be a rigorous process, so engage an expert or use a step-by-step website builder to help increase your website visibility.
 
Now with this in mind, go ahead, take the plunge and put your company online. You'll be glad you did and so will your customers.

 
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