924991_10264630Website design and maintenance, should be two things that are always deeply connected, they are key ingredients to developing a powerful web presence.

These two items are interwoven with each other because one element of the equation alone isn’t enough.

The greatest web site designs in the world can quickly fall into disrepair and without proper, consistent maintenance will help to maintain your site. Only when they work together can you count on establishing yourself and to also improve your presence online.

Design and maintenance begins with a few important questions about the site. These are important because if you aren’t sure about these things, there’s no way your customers will be sure about them either. Many web experts have stated that you have around 8 seconds to get that point across to any visitor.

What is the point of your website? Is it to build brand awareness? Provide product or academic information? Sell advertising space or facilitate the selling of your products or services? Whatever it is, make sure that your purpose is clear and distinct.

What are your goals? You’ve decided on a purpose, now you have to settle on exactly what you want to accomplish. You have to know what you consider a success and what you consider failure.

Now when you are settling on your design concepts you need to ask yourself what image do you want to project? Are you being consistent from page to page? And are you presenting your message clearly?

Visitor usability is a major part of website design and maintenance. This starts with your site navigation, consistent navigation, tabs, search fields, site maps, bottom links, or any combination of the above.

Another important aspect of website design and maintenance is the content. You’ve heard that content is king a million times, and with good reason. Content is what a search engine can read, categorize, and rank. So if you want to have a successful web presence, you’ve got to have content and it’s got to be search engine friendly. Where maintenance comes into play is in fine tuning your content. Your initial search engine rankings you will find that some pages rank higher than others and so you need to make adjustments to that content to improve those rankings.

How to improve your search engine friendliness doesn’t stop at improving content. You must also make sure that you’re hyperlinks, meta tags, keyword density, title tags, and other items all reflect the improvements that you have made to your content or they will have zero affect in improving your search engine visibility.

Now you’ve built a nice website that presents a clear message and will likely help you achieve your goals. What’s next?

Remember that the web is inherently an interactive medium. Consumers turn to the web because they expect at least a certain level of interactivity. So when you design your site you ought to include at least some type of customer communication. Ideally this will include you complete contact information and a “contact us” form.

Finally there is the Extended Maintenance Plan. Once all the design issues are in place you have to be willing to commit to keeping the site in peak condition. The web is nothing if not intensely competitive, and if you start to let it slide down that slippery slope there’s no telling where it will end.

The good news is that you can plan for a lot of this in the beginning of the process. As you build your site and your web presence you can build in scalability and ease of updating. Make sure that your great content can be changed or updated quickly and easily. This includes the ability to add new pages to cover new products, services, or topics.

Always remember, website design and maintenance are two parts of a greater whole. Keep this in mind and you can build more than a simple website. You will create a powerful web presence.