51: Website Trends

In 2009 it became easier to design your website. Businesses had the choice of do-it-yourself website builder’ tools or open source software like WordPress etc. The open source software may require some initial setup help unless the business owner is technically savvy. In 2009 ready-to-use templates also got more sophisticated in the appearance of the finished product, i.e, the published web site, and at the same time got easier to use for the end user. Another new trend for 2009 was getting a design for your website or logo as a contest through “crowdsourcing” with sites like 99 Designs, CrowdSpring and Genius Rocket.

Highly competitive businesses use technology like websites, online marketing tools etc to succeed (Small Business Success Index June 2009). With over 47% of small business not online, 2010 is an important year to get their business online and have a web site.

Low cost or no cost ways to get a web site increase
With the enormous variety of web site tools available for small business, it may be easy to start a web presence for almost no money at all. Hosting providers offering free websites tools, blogging software providers like Blogger, WordPress etc also let you start a web presence easily. Small businesses could try these free tools to experiment and then advance to a customized hosted option. A hosted option with your own domain name would be more credible and more brand friendly for your business.

Updating frequently.
Realizing the power of a Blog as a business tool
In the previous years, small businesses had set up websites and did not update them often. Even if they are not online businesses in 2010 businesses will pay attention and update the content of their websites more frequently.

More businesses will add Blogs to their existing websites.
This will give them an additional way to interact with customers. Customers can comment and give feedback on the blog. An added bonus is that these businesses have a better chance to be in search engine results as blogs are updated more frequently and search engines like blogs. Customers will like this as they get a chance to comment and also get to know the business in a very friendly and conversational way.

Flashy out;  practical in
2010 is the year of simplicity. Information on the internet is already overwhelming for users. Websites that quickly provide the information without too many flashy promotions will get more visitors. Of course the exception is if you are in the entertainment business.

Do you know who is knocking on your web site door; Web Analytics are a crucial tool
Websites without analytics is like running a business without accounting. Websites will focus on using web analytics tools to learn which content is more popular, who is visiting and from where. Tools like Google Webmaster tools will be important to find stats for indexing.

Widgets and Apps
Widgets showing collaboration between your website and other properties will become expected for websites. Some examples of using widgets is adding your latest Twitter comments, best selling products, most popular articles. This will extend to the ability to share the content using widgets like Share This, Add this allowing the website content to be shared by the visitors to their own networks.

Can I call you now? Adding Interactivity to your website
Chat and calling buttons on your website will be back. If people find something interesting on the website, features like ‘Click to Call “and chat or send a message will reemerge. This will also be an important analytical tool so as to track where the lead came from by using different incoming phone numbers. Earlier, these tools were only affordable by large corporations in 2010 these tools will become affordable by more small businesses. More website owners will start using  Skype, Google Voice or several commercially available options.

More Multi-media will be added to web sites.
Videos and photo galleries will form part of websites. Small business will use cheaper and convenient options like FLIP HD cameras to tell the behind the scenes stories of their business and products. Uploading them to video sites like YouTube, Blip.tv etc for videos, and Flickr for Photos and embedding them in their own website and will have the advantage of being seen in both the website and the photo or video network.