Article by: Joanna L. Krotz – Marketing Intelligence

Most websites are still hosting 1st generation sites. Internet-savvy businesses will refresh the contents regularly and redesign their sites at least once a year. So, consider this a wakeup call. It all boils down to how often you make changes. You can keep the same content but change the layout of your website.

1. Reduce the number of site pages. Focus on redesigning only the core 10 to 15 pages. Archive any remaining popular or highly trafficked pages into Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word documents that are suitable for download.

2. Make the site a marketing tool. Need to capture data basics such as which sites and search engines visitors are clicking from to which pages are being accessed the most. Questions to ask: When visitors come to your site, what do you want them to do? Once you figure this out, you can track there your visitors will go and have some structure to effectively follow your targeted visitors. For example, eCube’s free site statistics which gives you 8 comprehensive website traffic analysis tools.

3. Set up an e-mail program. Create an incentive for visitors to register or give you their email addresses. Give away something that the targeted audience would perceive as value for their exchange of personal information, for example, a prize for consumers or a white paper for business-to-business clients. Setup subscription or mailing lists to keep customers and visitors informed via newsletters and updates such as eCube’s free php list mailing list manager.

4. Speed loading time. Fancy graphics and online applets were cool in the beginning, now, they’re mere obstacles in the path of getting to information or products. So, streamline, streamline, streamline.

5. Give visitors greater, self-directed control. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has reworked its site to expand online booking capabilities. Now, guests who make online room reservations can book dinner or spa services at the same time. The site has also added a “Fairmont Planner” that matches individual resort properties to guest profiles or needs, as well as a “virtual concierge” that offers more details about services.

6. Get fashionable. Revise the site’s color palette. One opinion: “Think Far East colors, like rust, persimmon, mustard or saffron, and dump the jewel tones and zebra stripes that look like clothes from the back of your closet.” – Dali Wiederhoft, Minneapolis publicist.

7. Submission to search engines. Register your website on major search engines. Search engine suggestion tips –

8. Align the site to the organizations. No doubt, you’ve reinvented your business a halfdozen times over the past few years. How appropriate is your site now? What about secondary channels or pages? “Many businesses grow their sites in piecemeal fashion,” notes Ke vin McLaughlin at Public/i, a public relations firm in New Brunswick, NJ. “As new sections are added over time, the same messages or positioning is not always reflected in the copy throughout the company’s entire Web site.” Make sure your site’s messaging is always in tune with offline marketing.

9. Add testimonials or success stories. “Very Few sites do this and there’s no question that they add major credibility for buyers,” says Phillippa Gamse, a Web strategy consultant in Santa Cruz, Calif. Ask longtime customers for quotes or permission to post their case histories and their satisfaction with your services. Here’s a great example of a customer testimonials page –

Any of these suggestions will help update your online presence. Pay attention to your web site whenever you shift direction or significantly grow the business. All marketing and messaging must be seamless, consistent, uniform, multimedia and multi-channel. Move your website into the new century.