internet-315799_640This is not new or news. In 2014, your company needs a web presence. If you don't have one, you're getting killed by your competition in ways you don't even understand. Having said that, if you build a website that's not up to today's standards, you're probably going to wind up doing more harm than good. Here are the five biggest things to avoid when putting your company's website together:

1) Just say no to flashing graphics

In the early 1990's when the web was new, animated gifs were all the rage. Every website had them, and usually they had several. The problem? Animated gifs are annoying. They distract from the content and frustrate your readers. Don't use them. If you feel you must use them, never use more than one on a page, and don't use them on every page you've got. Nothing will kill your site (or your brand) faster than doing things that annoy your visitors.

2) Pay attention to background and text colors

Some background and text color combinations work out really well. Black background and white text. White background and black text. Black background and yellow text, this is one of those cases where function has to come, even at the expense of form. It doesn't matter if your company colors are red on blue, those color choices simply make the text unreadable. You'll need to switch to something more user friendly or you'll simply be wasting your time.

3) No dead links, ever

Every link on every page you have should go somewhere. If they don't, either pull the links off entirely or fix them. If you cannot et the basics right, there's no reason for visitors to your site to trust you or your brand. Your website is a representation of your company and your brand. Never forget that.

4) Ease of Navigation

Your site should be easy to move around on. It should follow an intuitive layout. No piece of information should be more than 2-3 clicks away from your visitor. If your current design doesn't live up to this standard, modify and rethink it until it does.

5) Useful, engaging content

People don't come to your site to read cheer-leading pieces about how awesome your company is, and they don't want keyword stuffed articles that don't offer any value. They want real information from a company that seems accessible to them. That means you need genuinely useful, compelling content written for human consumption, as opposed to being written for the search engines. It also means you need to keep your content offerings fresh. If the last time you updated your company site was six months ago, you may as well not even bother building one. It's meant to be an actively used tool, not a photograph you hang on the wall.