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Building a Winning Web Site - II

The technical fine tuning:

Appoint Moderators of Community Content
If your Web site employs elements of an online community such as discussion boards, list serves, chat rooms, and the like, you will need moderators. They blend facilitation skills with editorial judgments to assure the appropriateness of content on your site.

Employ an Information Architect
The information architect is responsible for the way information is organized on your Web site, including the following:
-Navigation: the information architect decides on the most effective options for how someone finds their way through the site's content. The overarching goal is so that a visitor to your site can find a particular item of interest easily and quickly' -no matter where on the site the visitor first enters, and to no matter where on the site the visitor navigates. The information architect establishes standards for navigation and content presentation design so that consistency is maintained through out the site.
-Search: to help visitors find exactly what they are seeking, the information architect should design basic and advanced search options. The search function should be easy to use and deliver accurate, easy to interpret, results quickly.
-Layout and design: the information architect should ensure that all Web site content is laid out on the screen in its most readable format. Simple, elegant design delivers web pages that are fast to download and easy to read. Maintaining consistency of design throughout the Web site assures a quality experience for the site visitor. Defining content templates helps to ensure that all pages on the entire site include all the vital elements that a particular document should have, such as date of publication, author name, summary, and keywords.
-Usability: the Web site must work for its visitors. What seems intuitive to people who designed a Web site may not be intuitive or even comprehensible to a casual visitor. It's essential to obtain regular feedback from site visitors and to conduct usability testing to ensure that the Web site is perceived by your target audience as functional and easy to use as you intend.
-Metadata: this information which 'tags' content on web pages' -invisible to visitors but accessible to search engines' -is crucial to the design of Web sites. How content is classified will directly affect how quickly and effectively search engines will index your site and how easily visitors can find your site.

Find a Graphic Designer
Graphic designers support the information architect by helping to present information in a visually consistent and attractive fashion. Your graphic design team should be skilled in creating small, elegant, fast-downloading visual elements that support site navigation and the presentation and readability of content and other Web site elements.

Take On an IT Manager/Programmer
The information technology skills required to set up and maintain your Web site may be supplied by your internal Information Technology (IT) department or it may be outsourced to a specialty contractor. A high level of skills are needed most when you are initially designing and implementing your Web site design, but there is an ongoing need for technical support, so have some sort of programming resource permanently available if possible. A key responsibility of the IT manager is to ensure that the Web site is secure.

Hire a Systems Administrator
A Web site that receives many visitors requires constant monitoring to assure its availability and functional quality. Responsibilities of the systems administrator include maintaining the site's network and servers, the day-to-day maintenance of all software, backing up the Web site, testing pages for download speed, checking for broken links, and testing for security breaches.

Employ a Programmer / Coder
This skill will vary depending on whether the Web site is being built in pure HTML, whether it uses Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), deploys a more sophisticated web database structure (e.g. PHP or Ruby on Rails), or incorporates a commercially available or open-source content management system (CMS). Remember, even if you use templates or deploy a ready-made content system, someone still has to understand how that pre-existing material integrates with your site, and you may need help to maintain and support the off-the-shelf components to keep them functional and adapting to your specific needs.

Promote Your Site!
Resources will be required to promote your Web site engaging in activities such as ongoing search engine registrations, establishing links with other sites, promoting your site to target visitors through e-mail newsletters, and developing advertisements.

What to Avoid

You View the Web site as a Technical Matter
A Web site is a prime vehicle for communicating with your organization's key publics. Ideally, your site is a collaborative effort that epitomizes cooperation across your organization's departmental boundaries. Depending on the scope of your site, it may involve product marketing, product technical support, corporate relations, HR, and others all supported by the IT department.

You Don't Have an Editor Run the Project
A web-savvy editor should oversee your site's development and operation. The job of the editor is to understand content' -the central fixture in Web design and management. Sites that are run by graphic designers or technologists often make extraneous design elements or technical wizardry the site's focal point at the expense of readable content. This does nothing to attract or serve the intended audience.

You Don't Give Content Its Due
Content is the most valuable resource a Web site has, but it must be given its due, and not simply treated as a commodity. Many promising sites self-defeat with poor organization, overlong, superficial or confusing articles, badly written headings, missing, inaccurate or incomplete metadata, and a host of other avoidable transgressions that repel the very people they want to attract. All such shortcomings reflect a Web site that doesn't care about its content or the person who is supposed to read it.

You Fail to Reward Writers
Individuals write your site's content. Creating content requires a high level of skill encompassing both technical knowledge and the writer's craft. While poor and mediocre writers abound, when you find highly capable writers, they should be remunerated accordingly, otherwise you risk poor results or high turnover.

Source: BNET

Courtesy: Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica: www.yeajamaica.com
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