Some stations in broadcast media have done a great job of using the internet to increase their advertising dollars. However there are still too many companies that have been slow to adapt to new technology. Too often mangement is scared of technologies they don't understand. If they don't have a website, they know they need one, but don't know where to start. If they have one, they may think there is nothing wrong with their website. This is similar to driving a car for 10K miles without an Oil change. It might still run and get you from place to place, but your engine is not running very efficient, and you are shortening the life of your vehicle. Many people look for the shortcuts of how to succeed on the internet. They buy every product form the late night informercials. They attend seminars on web advertising, only to walk away with some basic ideas on metrics, but with no real knowledge of how to make their website succeed. In this article you should find some basic points to get your started. I will be writing future articles that will get more specific on things like Search Engine Optimization.
Stay Away from Prefabricated Websites
Don't get me wrong Prefabricated software has its place in the world. Most large companies are running some form of SAP to run the company. For very specific purposes some prefabricated systems are ideal. What I am talking about are the cookie cutter websites, that use templates for everything. From a developers perspective I want to reuse as much code as possible when building a new website. This helps reduce hours and saves my client money. But too often developers are lazy and they would rather use some pre built template for their client's website. Sometimes developers do this because they lack the skills to code it themself, or its because the client has put the developer on an extremely tight budget and deadline. Your company and its services are unique, your website should reflect the individuality of your company. When consumers look at a website they will immediately get a first impression of your company by its design. This is what sets companys like Sony and Apple apart. Going custom with the design of your website will pay off long term, even if it costs a bit more. The most successful websites ( Myspace, YouTube, FaceBook, Yahoo, Google, MSN ) are were build custom.
Decide on your content
Figure out what content and features you want to have on your website. Make the focus on items that will keep people coming back over and over again. Many websites have created social networking communities, and blogs as a way to make it more interactive with the readers. Add viral features like videos, and or games and can help drive new visitors to your website. At the same time don't just try to reinvent Yahoo. Your site should be unique, and different. This is why people will visit your site instead of Yahoo.
Make a Prototype Design
Create a Static Design to get an idea of how you want the site to look. Using a program like Photoshop or Fireworks, experiment with colors, layouts, logos, graphics, and Make sure your website looks clean and professional. It should not appear cluttered. Advertising shouldn't be an eye sore on the page. Colors should not clash. Any place where you will have Flash Ads or content should always have a static version for Search Spiders and Users without the plugins to view such content. When you have a good design, ask others for their opinions. Don't just assume you have an eye for design.
Determine how this content will be udpated
If you are running a website will be updated frequently, its good to have a backend control panel, often setup so multiple people can make updates. If you are a radio station you might want to give your DJs access to make updates to certain sections, while things like the Advertising should only be accessible to your Marketing Department. If your updates have to be hard coded by a webmaster then you are behind the ball.
Focus on SEO ( Search Engine Optimization )
Ensure the placement of content to maximize your SEO. One of the biggest problems I see with websites is they are not optimized for Search. There are several key things to focus on when you want to keep your website to most attractive to Search Engines. I have another upcoming article that will focus on this topic specifically. I could easily fill a whole page on this issue specifically.
Set a schedule for adding content
I have created websites for other clients, giving them all the tools and control they need to make their own updates. But if you don't add new fresh content its all a waste. Get a routine for adding new content. Don't fake it either. Things like taking old articles and changing their dates to make them look new is not smart. Don't simply find an article on another website and copy paste it into yours. This is illegal, and can result in getting sued by the original author. There is a proper way to credit the original author while using parts of their content for an article. I will write another article in the future that goes into detail on this.
Don't expect your traffic to grow over night. It will take several months before search engines and readers find your content, and you start to develop a following of loyal readers. However sometimes it is possible to see a difference with Search Engine Referrals within a couple days.
Be honest about your traffic
Don't lie about your website's traffic. If you really want to earn the respect of your advertisers, offer them stats of how their ads perform. How many impressions. unique visitors, and clicks their ad gets. After all you are competing against google and other advertising models that give consumers this kind of data. Start things right, and don't just rely on your relationship with your client. Offer then concrete data to reinforce their decisions.
Build your website in a modular style.
One the benefits of building a dynamic website is your ability to reuse code. For example on our website we have the list of authors. We have a small piece of code that generates this authors box. This means it is easy for us to put a list of our authors on any page within our website. When planning your website try to break up your design into modules. This will give it a more consistent look and feel, plus it will make updates much easier
Your customers should be referred to your website, not Myspace.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I have seen. Especially in Broadcast Radio. Every DJ is touting their Myspace page on the air. The only person who is getting rich from this is Tom ( founder of Myspace ). The only website your DJs should be talking about is your website. If you DJ has a following they should be able to drive visitors to your website. Its just a matter of giving your DJ the tools to make this possible.
Force yourself to learn something new
Don't assume your web designer will already know all this. Learn it for yourself. I am not saying you need to learn how to code ( even though it doesn't hurt ). But understand the basics of SEO, and good design. It will enable you to better communicate with your web designer, and help give direction.