The Basics
There are some basic rules about websites that must be strongly adhered to. If you can keep to these rules, then at least you’ve got the basics covered…

1) Avoid errors in your content:

Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are probably the most obvious and embarrassing of all. If your website suffers from these, then all your hard work in building credibility is seriously undermined.

Clarity is often a problem when the author makes assumptions about terminology. Be aware that what appears obvious to you may seem ambiguous and confusing to others.

Factual errors including defamation, slander and libel are to be avoided at all costs. Publishing defamatory information could be disastrous for your business. If you really must make libel claims on your website, at least make sure they are true!

2) Keep it up to date:

If your address, telephone number, email address or contact representative has changed, you need to make sure your website is updated. Other aspects such as product information and prices are also essential aspects of your website that must always be up to date.

A common failure with many websites is to have a news section and have the last entry written about 2 years ago. This conveys the message that the information on this website is years out of date and can be ignored.

3) Have working links to ensure basic navigation:

Broken links are hyperlinks that take you to a non-existent page. There are tools to help you find broken links on your website. Even if this happens on your website, there should be an error handling mechanism to help the user diagnose the problem and at least return them back to the homepage.

Menus are essential in order to successfully navigate your website. If your menus are inconsistent and make it easy to get lost in your website, then your visitors will grow tired and frustrated in their attempts to find the information they are looking for.

4) Check for browser compatibility:

As browsers mature in their HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) rendering abilities, it is becoming extremely important to make sure your HTML validates against recognised standards. Modern browsers are designed to conform to these standards. The consequences are that your website may break when viewed in a different browser, or even in different versions of the same browser, than it was originally written for.

5) Design with consistency:

All pages should have the same styling, navigation, terminology and use of language throughout the website. You should choose or create a style guide and adhere to it.

Your website is a powerful marketing tool when your corporate identity remains clear and consistent with all other marketing. Using a different logo, font or colour range will confuse your visitors who recognise you from your other marketing campaigns.

6) Design with customer relevance in mind:

When visitors find your website, they are looking for information that will help them to understand how you can benefit or solve their particular problem. Writing your website copy with your customer in mind will keep your site relevant and interesting.

There are too many websites on the internet that are ‘brochure’ style and tell the visitor what they do and how their products are manufactured, or list their features. These websites offer no help or solutions to specific customer problems. The information may be relevant to you and your staff, but mostly irrelevant to the visitor.

7) Design for usability:

Any features on your website must firstly work, and secondly be easy to use. If you have any unusual or advanced features such as a dynamic menu, it must work for all browsers. Be aware of any DDA (disability discrimination act) issues that may make your website unusable to certain users. If you have pop-ups, they must be written correctly so that pop-up blockers can identify them.

To give your website the best possible chance of success, ensure that the essential design aspects have been reviewed and dealt with. If you feel your website requires attention in any area of its design, please contact your account manager for advice.

If you are in any doubt, complete the support request form and your account manager will review your enquiry the following day.