A website has graduated from being far more than just the static pages on the World Wide Web of the past. But now websites do so much more that just provide information. They also help us to interact with one another, and they have become a powerful business tool.

Rather than viewing a website as a project with a definitive beginning and ending, developers need to see websites as an ever-evolving environment. For a website to thrive, for business or social purposes, it has to be able to adjust with the times and keep up with both technology and society. What do consumers want? How do individuals want to be able to interact? What technology is available to turn consumer desires into reality? These questions must be answered, and then the answers have to be regularly reevaluated.

The mistake that many companies make is designing a website without a plan. This is an error that frequently leads to a complicated redesign later on. If your designer doesn’t know exactly what the site is supposed to do, there is no way to code it properly the first time simply for appearance’s sake. So what kind of information does your team need before they can start working on the site’s layout? It begins with the consumer. Who are you trying to reach with your product, service, or message? Next you need to think about your strategy for turning people who visit your website into customers. How will you be able to interact with them and vice versa? Consider the content that the site needs and how to make it easily accessible to the average visitor. Then you need to think about the interactions between your website and your social media sites.

By applying these principles, you can turn a website into a genuine business asset, regardless of the size of your company. Otherwise, your website really will just become a bunch of linked web pages on a common topic and nothing more. Don’t let an outdated definition keep your website from reaching its full potential as an interactive business tool.