Our SVP, Branded Entertainment, Kaaren Whitney-Vernon,  is an active Forbes Agency Council member. She is often asked, and quoted, for her expertise in their Forbes Expert Panels.   Reposted from Forbes.

Over the last decade, the number of channels for marketing products has more than doubled. As expected, the amount of spending has matched the increased number of channels, with businesses in any industry striving to make the most of their advertising budgets so as to take advantage of as many marketing channels as possible.

With the rise of online shopping and e-commerce, businesses are today — more than ever — dependent on the positive management of their company website. However, there’s no rule book about the right way to develop and manage a business website. There are distinct differences between one industry and another that make it impossible to generalize website management.

1. Have A Strategy And Know Your Visitor

The homepage of a website is the most important place on the site. In less time than it takes to hit the back button on a browser, visitors will ask and notice several things. Your website needs to match up with your organization’s strategic goals. Which leads directly to who the people visiting you are, why they are visiting, how they interact with the site and what we want them to know and do. – Patrick Nycz,NewPoint Marketing

2. Remember That Less Is More (Sometimes)

A website can allow businesses to share almost unlimited information, but that doesn’t mean they should throw everything under the sun at their users. Too many choices in a menu, for example, can create confusion or take focus away from high priority topics or offerings. Use text and visual elements thoughtfully to highlight what matters most to your customers. – Hannah Trivette,NUVEW Web Solutions

3. Keep Your Customers In Mind At All Times

Businesses make a fatal error when they design and program their websites for themselves instead of their customers. While there are a million ways to implement this mindset, one granular example is knowing which browsers your users prefer. Make sure your site can accommodate older versions of those browsers, as well as the latest ones. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

4. Make It A Knowledge Center

Talk to the news. To show authority in your sector, you need to be able to provide insight in what is going on and why it matters for your clients. Providing well-researched and well-written commentary is a great way to mark out your website as a knowledge center. – Paul Blanchard, Right Angles

5. Be Specific, Valuable And Keep It Simple

According to Hick’s law, the more choices you present to visitors, the longer they will take to make the decision. So the first rule is to be specific. Second, add the value to the visitors by adding the call-to-action buttons (e.g., ROI calculator or free SEO audit). Finally, use the programs that build the heat map and click reports for a better understanding of UX (user experience). – Oganes Vagramovich Barsegyan, Digital Beverly Marketing Solutions

6. Focus, Focus, Focus

Sometimes people want to add every detail of what they do. My best practice is to focus, from the get-go. Decide what your goals are for the site — is it to build relationships (maybe add a live chat feature) or to sell products or simply to give out info? Decide on your main purpose and then change and pivot from there, depending on what is working. – Kaaren Whitney-Vernon, Shaftesbury

7. Feed Your Blog, Or Kill It

If your firm lacks the resources or motivation to produce relevant content on a consistent basis, then shut down your blog. Content that’s more than two months old suggests that either your company is no longer in business, or that ideas and enthusiasm are in short supply. Your website should be a brand asset, not a liability. – Gordon Andrew, Highlander Consulting Inc.

8. Set The Tone

Utilize your website to convey the “tone” of your business — through the text, visuals, presentation of your products and services, leadership, culture and even job openings. However you best describe yourself — conservative, buttoned-up, progressive, to irreverent — let that spirit come through as a differentiator. – Jim Heininger,Dixon|James – Rebranding Experts

9. Address Customers’ Most Important Needs

Anticipate the customer’s main need and make sure that the story your website tells explains how your product or service addresses that need. The website design and functionality should support it, yet the story should come first. – Inna Semenyuk, InnavationLabs

10. Update It Constantly

Gone are days of spending a bunch of time and resources on building a website only to never update it again. To maximize the potential of a web page or online community you must remember to update and upkeep the content on that platform on a regular basis. Not only will you favor search engine algorithms, but you will also give your returning visitors a fresh experience each time they visit your page. –Alex Quin, UADV

11. Use Human Imagery

Human imagery on the home page makes a big difference in creating a good first impression. Of course, a clean look and feel, aesthetic design, soothing colors and good navigation are important for a good home page. But one thing that can make a difference is human imagery. As humans, we like to talk to people, and having a good visual with people in it creates an instant connection with the website visitor. – Hareesh Tibrewala, Mirum India

12. Remember That Looks Matter

A professionally-designed, easy-to-use website will convey to potential customers that you are a reputable organization that they want to do business with. And don’t forget about your mobile site. People won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site. – Laura Cole, Vivial

13. Add Video Content

Video is your No. 1 marketing tool in 2020 because that’s the way people consume content at the moment. Just to illustrate, adding a video to the website increases organic search traffic by 157% and boosts conversion rate by up to 80%. Take the time to film an informative and valuable video and embed it on your home page. It will definitely create a positive first impression. – Solomon Thimothy,OneIMS

14. Don’t Forget Your Social Front Door

Websites are often a top search result for a company, but likely in the top three results is probably also a company’s social page. Ensuring that any “front door” that a consumer decides to enter is curated, updated and on-brand is equally critical. Not only should you ensure that your website has functioning social links, but you should also ensure your social pages link easily to your website. – Matthew Brown, ThumbStopper®