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How Fit Is Your Business Website?

Depending on how recently you’ve been to the doctor for a checkup, you may or may not have noticed that there are essentially two steps to figuring out how healthy you are: First, there is an interview and/or questionnaire, and then you usually get a series of short tests.

By studying the results, your physician can get a fairly accurate picture of what’s going on with your body and make appropriate recommendations.

Believe it or not, you can follow the very same process with your business website to keep it fit, active, and healthy for a long time to come. Given the amount of money you probably spent to get your web presence in the first place, doesn’t it make sense to ensure that it’s operating as it should be – both as a piece of software and as a marketing tool?

Here’s how you can think like a doctor and assess your website’s health and fitness:

Begin by Looking for First Impressions

Just as your visit to the physician begins with an interview, your inspection of your website should start with a quick look around. How is the layout? Are the visuals in good shape? Is information about your company and/or products up to date, and are all your links working?

More often than not, this quick “eyeball test” will tell you much of what you need to know. Perhaps your website is looking old, tired, and out of shape. That might be a sign you’re due for a redesign. Or, if something looks a little fishy, you might need to update your hosting software and check for viruses.

Either way, you shouldn’t skip this important step. Looking through your website at least once a week is a great way to cut off problems before they develop.

Continue by Going Deeper with Tests

Just as your doctor will draw a little bit of blood to make sure things are going well inside your body, it’s a good idea to dig deeply into your web analytics package now and then to figure out what’s going on beneath the layer of HTML on your website, too.

In the same way that vitamin deficiencies are easy to spot under a microscope, a quick scan of your most important traffic sources, content viewed, and bounce rates should tell you which parts of your site are “hot” and which ones aren’t working or converting as well as they could be.

The beauty of studying analytics is that you can sometimes get access to insights that wouldn’t have been otherwise obvious. That’s especially true if your website looks great but isn’t doing much to contribute to your bottom line. A few simple numbers and graphs might be able to show you exactly why.

A healthy website, like a healthy body, requires continual attention and maintenance. A fit and healthy website is something that helps your business grow and grow. A web presence that’s not fit, however, is a waste of time and money. Remember that and be sure to check its appearance and performance regularly.

The Problem With DIY Small Business Websites

A lot of us can remember having a relative – maybe a father, grandfather, or uncle – who liked to tinker around the house and fix broken faucets, mend light sockets, and otherwise keep things in shape. And reality television is full of men and women who have saved money and had a blast by doing their own renovations. Maybe that's why we run across so many business owners who decide to forgo the time and expense of hiring a professional web design firm and build their own websites, either from scratch or from a template.

That should be a great way to lower your bills and get more involved, shouldn’t it?

It certainly can be, but the sad fact is that most business owners – even the ones who are already fairly web savvy – don't have the expertise to give their site a professional feel. And of those that do, few have the time required to get the job done right.

These days, web design is less like home renovation and more like auto maintenance. Whereas just a couple of decades ago, just about anyone who had some free time and a little understanding could slide under a car, diagnose a problem, and make a quick repair, autos have gotten more complicated. Most have processors and self-monitoring systems that are as expensive as the basic components themselves, and messing with one could easily throw other systems out of whack.

Your company's website is similar. Set things up the wrong way, and you risk having site that doesn't load well on different types of browsers, can crash when you make content updates, can't be found (or is poorly rated) by search engines, and so on. Any of these problems is likely to end up costing you more – in terms of lost business, if not web development expenses – then they could ever hope to save you.

There's nothing wrong with popping the hood and getting your hands dirty a little once in a while; in fact, when it comes to online marketing, a business owner who was closely involved has an enormous advantage over someone who isn't. Think twice before deciding to build your own site, however – what seems like a fun and simple project could end up stalling your business before you can even turn the key.

Keeping Rates Competitive

When developing a website to focus on product and service offerings, custom design often comes into play.  For some businesses, a custom build can be not only appropriate but necessary, though not in all cases.  Along with custom design can come ongoing maintenance, specialized knowledge and training, and regular updates.  Besides raising the question of who will maintain the site, ongoing upkeep often equates to ongoing cost.  

According to President Josette van Stiphout, “At Kinetik IT, our philosophy is not to be in the business of holding clients hostage. We want them to come back to us because they want to, not because they have to.  It's a different approach. We want to make sure that our clients are happy with what products we deliver, the customer service and everything that's tied into that. We want to do that at a reasonable price. 

Kinetik IT’s rates have remained competitive for the duration of the company’s existence, with cuts coming not from laying off employees or cutting salaries, but by becoming more efficient and better-performing than the norm.  This client-centered philosophy stems from the understanding that clients may not be able to raise their own rates to accommodate the cost of necessary services, upgrades, and maintenance,

“Our rates are beyond competitive.  We haven't raised our rates in several years, because we want to make sure our prices are reasonable. In order to keep them reasonable, we have to become more efficient as a company rather than raising our rates every year for our clients,” van Stiphout said.  

It's not the easiest philosophy, but it's a philosophy that has been present since the beginning, and one which the company will strive to incorporate as much as possible. Says van Stiphout, “We've been pretty successful at following this business philosophy, but again, it's not mainstream corporate philosophy.”

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