1 – Your Own Domain Name
Some free website hosting services, such as geocities and tripod, will provide you with a free domain name that is an extension of their domain. Any business that hopes to have a professional internet presence should purchase its own domain name. They can be purchased from GoDaddy.com for less than $20 per year.
The most effective domain names are easy to remember and not too long. Having keywords in the domain name is a good idea (it may help search engine rankings), but it is not necessary. In order to make your domain name easy to remember, try to get a .com extension. If you have a domain name that ends in .net, .biz or any other extension, chances are people will forget and try .com. In this case, you will be generating traffic for your competitor’s website. Exceptions are government, educational or non profit websites which should end in .gov, .edu or .org respectively.
2 – Reliable Hosting
Many businesses creating their first website are tempted to go with free website hosting services. This is usually a bad idea. Free services typically mean more downtime (if the host’s servers are down, so is your website), slower page loads for visitors, less features, and little to no customer service and tech support. Reliable website hosting with good customer service and many features can cost as little as $10 per month. The quality of your web hosting service can impact the experience your visitors have at your website. A poor experience may keep them from coming back.
3 – Email Address at Your Own Domain
Using a free email address (Yahoo, Hotmail, Juno, etc.) can present an unprofessional image for your business. Your website hosting company will provide you with email addresses at your domain. The number of addresses allowed will vary by the hosting company and by the package that you choose. Make sure that you select a plan that provides enough email addresses for your needs.
4 – Affordable Website Design
Your website will create the first impression of your business for many potential customers. The appearance of your site will be a significant factor in determining whether that first impression is positive or negative. A well-designed website can add instant credibility to your business in the eyes of your prospective customers. However, the appearance should not overpower or distract from the content and the message of the website.
5 – Simple Navigation
Your visitors should have no problems navigating through your website to find what they are looking for. A good rule of thumb is that every page should be accessible in two clicks or less from your homepage. On larger websites this may not always be possible, but keep in mind that requiring more clicks to get to a page will mean less visitors. Pages should be grouped logically, and the destination of a link should be clear. Efforts should be made to avoid dead links.
6 – An Easy Way for Your Visitors to Contact You
Most websites accomplish this by having a page with a simple feedback form that will be submitted by email. At the very least your email address should be listed for your visitors to contact you. The contact form can be easier for your visitors since it doesn’t involve opening an email program.
7 – A Website that is Easily Indexed by Search Engines
The basic design of a website can play a significant role in determining search engine rankings. By following certain basic guidelines you can create a site that makes the search engine’s job easier.
Properly coded XHTML is the first step. Use of the following tags will increase the ease the ease with which search engines can determine the subject of your website: title, keywords (meta), description (meta), headings, and alt tags (for images).