Just about every organization has a website these days, and why wouldn’t they? The internet has been growing at an amazing rate. So in the last few years, most organizations have noticed that if they don’t have some kind of web presence, they are going to get left in the dust. For a lot of organizations including government agencies and corporate bodies though, just getting a website up seemed like all they had to do. Don’t be surprised that this still happens till today – an organization, especially in the shipping sector, decides to develop a web presence because it is the “thing to do” but that is as far as they go. They don’t plan or strategize, and they don’t research what goes into making a website. The longer you’ve been a user of the internet, the more crazy stuff you would have seen.
A website is a related collection of World Wide Web (WWW) files that include a beginning file called a home page. An organization or an individual tells you how to get to their website by giving you the address of their home page. For example, the website for Ships & Ports has the home page address of https://www.shipsandports.com.ng. The home page address actually includes a specific file name like index.php but, when a standard default name is set up, users don’t have to enter the file name. Ships & Ports home page address leads to thousands of pages but a website can also be just a few pages.
There are only five seconds – that is right – five seconds to make a lasting first impression. That is not enough time for a website visitor to read your content and understand your idea. It is only enough for their emotion-based brains and perceptions to react to layout, design, color, navigation (perhaps), and maybe a headline. If you have not caught people attention by this, they are gone quickly, probably never to return again and the purpose for which you put up the website may become difficult to realize. Fonts, activities, images, everything on the website must appeal to the target visitor you are trying to reach.
The first basic component of a good website is that it must be able to satisfy the intent of its creation. A website is an online extension of your physical organization. Therefore your website must function perfectly well. No dead links, no missing page, avoid incomplete information on the web pages, no contact form that fails to load or submit. Your site must be updated immediately there is a change of management, office location, new product etc. Your website must be able to give appropriate information from the home page to all other pages.
Shipping companies and government agencies in the maritime industry must create websites that are focused. From the first time visitors land on a website, they must know what the company offers and what it stands for. There should be no confusion as to the message you are trying to pass around on any particular page.
A website must be able to take its visitors to their respective destinations. Navigations are anchor links that are used to direct people to pages or sections of your website. A good navigation key should steam from a good keyword research.
While written words do well on the internet, a single image can be used to convey what 200 words will be required to do. Images add beauty to your websites, yet it is easy to overdo it. There are various ways to get images for use on your website but the best images are those that are unique to your organization. Instead of using stock images or same image on your competitor’s website, if possible, use images of your employees, office and products.
Content is king. Every website requires great quality content. Your web content is practically where you tell your visitors what to do and what to expect as they transverse your website. Contents must be written well and must be free of all spelling and grammatical errors. If you will have to outsource your website, you must be able to get an insider who will interact with the web designer so as to provide the right content at the appropriate time. It is embarrassing when you see an organization’s website still displaying the name of a manager who has been replaced. Well over six months after Temi Omatseye was replaced, the website of NIMASA still recongised him as the DG. It remained so until SHIPS & PORTS DAILY newspaper published an article on it in 2011.
Your web visitors must be able to make use of your website. Colour contrast plays a big role. Place your navigation menu where it will be easy to access, make your topography readable and consider your audience. While big-text or font might be suitable for the elderly, the same might not work for younger users. Always design your website with your audience in mind and make it easy for them to use.
The best way to make good use of a website is to always be on the lookout for ways to improve the overall user experience on it. It is not advisable to leave the same design a website for too long.
In conclusion, when the purpose on a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable. Government agencies and corporate organizations in the maritime industry need to move beyond creating a website just for the sake of it. When redesigning or creating a website you must ensure that it attracts, retains and assists your visitors to find what they are searching for. Not that alone, your website content also counts, without strong content, visitors do not have a better reason to stay long enough to determine what you have to offer.
Bisi Oyesina is the IT Manager, Ships & Ports Communication Company, Lagos.