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Have you asked yourself the question: Does my business need a website? Every business these days needs a website, so the short answer is yes, but before you start hiring programmers and graphic designers, decide what objective you would like your website to accomplish.

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If the primary purpose of the website is to communicate company contact information and tell the world what your business does rather than actually sell products, you don't need lots of fancy bells and whistles.

Keep the feel of your website appropriate to the type of business you have. Bright primary colors, lots of graphics and a font that looks like writing in crayon may work for a site that sells children's products but wouldn't convey the image of a professional.

Think about your customer and what they would like to know as well as what you want to tell them. Place a "contact us" link on every page. Don't make your visitors hunt for it. When you do get an email respond to it as soon as possible. 24 hours doesn't seem unreasonable but the longer you wait to respond the higher the probability your visitor has found what they wanted on a competitor's site.

When designing the website, ease of navigation should be a high priority. Confused customers will leave a site in frustration and that means you may have lost a sale. Keep the navigation as consistent as possible across all your pages. Always have a clearly marked link that gets back to your home page.

Fancy graphics and flash may look pretty but if they take too long to load it irritates visitors. Keep graphics appropriate and don't overuse them. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

Write the content of your website for human readers not search engine spiders. Keep the paragraphs short. The length of the webpage should be about 350 words. If you have more to say on the subject, continue on a separate page. Check the grammar and spelling. Errors say you're sloppy and careless and that's probably not the image you want to portray to potential customers.

Use headings and subheadings to break up your written content. Many people will prefer to skim the page to find what they're looking for rather than read every word. Make it easy for them by using the headings. Vary the look of the page by using bullet points, check marks, changing fonts and indenting content, but don't get carried away. Too many variations and the page starts to look cluttered.

Use white space around the content and graphics. Don't let your text bump up right next to a graphic, that makes the text hard to read.

If your site is a storefront where you sell products, make sure your shopping cart software, credit card processing and gateway processor are all coordinated to work with each other. Most do, but not every piece of software will communicate with every other piece of software. Select the software based on ease of customer use as much as ease of use for you.

Always keep your customer in mind in website design.

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