Dennis D. McDonald (ddmcd@outlook.com) is an independent consultant located in Alexandria Virginia. His services and capabilities are described here. Application areas include project, program, and data management; market assessment, digital strategy, and program planning; change and content management; social media; and, technology adoption. Follow him on Google+. He also publishes on CTOvision.com and aNewDomain.

Ten Tips for Improving Your Tech Company’s Web Site

Ten Tips for Improving Your Tech Company’s Web Site

By Dennis D. McDonald

To help promote my consulting services I've been researching and contacting consulting firms and technology contractors. What I've seen in the way of corporate websites is a lot of variety as well as a lot of, shall we say, disappointing sites.

Keep in mind why I'm looking: I'm seeking potential customers and business partners. Others will be researching for possible service vendors, they'll be seeking employment, or they might be interested in setting up their own businesses and need to scope out the competition. Nevertheless, here are some of my own suggestions after having reviewed many dozens of company web sites (and after having struggled with my own web site over the past decade):

  1. Update the copyright date on your front page. Anything less than 2017 makes it look like you're not paying attention.
  2. Try not to sound like everyone else. If I have to read another empty statement about the joys of being "client driven," “solution-focused,” or "ethical," I'm going to scream. Tell me what makes you special!
  3. Who's running the company? I'm often amazed at how many tech firms don't explain who is responsible for doing what and what their qualifications are. Whenever I see a company website that doesn't name at least the top 4 or 5 people -- along with their pictures -- I scratch my head. Who are these people?
  4. No news is bad news. If you have a tab or link called "news" make sure it's updated at least once per month. It doesn't have to be an announcement of your latest $150 million contract. It could be about one of your VP’s volunteer jobs, or an employee graduating or getting a technical certification of some sort, or about a new hire. If I don't see any news in over 6 months or so I get suspicious.
  5. Blogging is not the same as press releases or news. Blog posts are an opportunity to show that you have thought leaders on your staff. If not, at least use your web site’s blog to discuss client work (with your client’s permission of course). Your blog is an opportunity to project activity and expertise. If it's blank, people will wonder about your "lack of" activity and expertise.
  6. No stock photos. I’m tired of seeing smiling and squeaky clean Millennials having happy and thoughtful discussions around conference tables. Are these really the people who work there or you're just trying to create an unrealistic – and bland – impression?
  7. How does your website look on a smartphone or tablet? If you follow any of the usage statistics easily available from places like Google Analytics it's likely that an increasing proportion of first-time visitors are coming to your site via iOS or Android devices. What do they see when I get there? If you haven't updated your website's basic structure in a couple of years you may be showing your  business prospects -- or potential employees -- that you are out of touch.
  8. Contact forms. How often do you check yours? Personally, I'd rather see the name and picture of the person who will be responding to my question, but even if you don't do that, at least monitor the email address your contact form funnels into on a daily basis. Better yet, give me a phone number to call. But check your email messages!
  9. Don't make users jump through hoops to get your brochures or white papers. Just give me a link I can download from. If I'm interested I'll call you. Also, make sure the documents themselves are updated with current information. Having downloadable documents "out of sync" with what's on the website can be embarrassing.
  10. Pay attention to modern aesthetics. I've seen some perfectly decent websites content appearing on sites that still look like they were designed 10 years ago. Is that the impression you're trying to make? Do some research and tell your designer to give your site a more contemporary look.

If I had to summarize the above into what I think is really most important here it is:

  1. Say what you do quickly and succinctly.
  2. Say what makes you special.
  3. Make it easy for visitors to find out more about how you can help them.

When all is said and done, a website is just website. How you get people to come there is another challenge, no matter how good your content is. But making your site really good – and making sure it’s regularly updated – should be your first step.

Copyright (c) 2017 by Dennis D. McDonald. Contact Dennis via 703-402-7382 or ddmcd@outlook.com to talk about any of these topics.

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