While high street sales feel the pinch of the credit crunch, online sales remain strong. Recent research by IMRG and Capgemini revealed that the figure spent online in January was 75% higher in 2008 than 12 months previous while the run-up to Christmas 2007 was the most successful for internet shopping yet.

With that in mind, it's essential that small businesses make the most of their internet presence, whether that's as a fully transactional sales channel or simply somewhere for customers to find out more information about the company.

"In today's market a website is an essential tool for businesses to build a solid and long-term relationship with its customers," says Lydie Bitounti, managing director of Lydie-Design Studio. "Whether you use your website as a means of selling goods or just as a corporate brochure interface, websites have become a fundamental part of any business.

Whether you use your website as a means of selling goods or just as a corporate brochure interface, websites have become a fundamental part of any business

"We recognise that the website market is changing and that more businesses want to get themselves noticed on the internet but it can be incredibly difficult for small business to make the right impact."

The company suggests the following tips as a means of making the most of your online presence:

Have a plan
Establish what the main purpose is for the website. Set out your main goals and make sure that they are fulfilled.

Establish measures of success.
Is your website driving enough traffic? Check accurate measurements of visitor usage and interactions regularly.

Promote yourselves
A website can be used as an online brochure. Update your clients and customers as to your recent success and testimonials. If you don't tell them, no one else will

Introduce your brand
Have a unique logo and slogan for your product's brand. Make it eye-catching yet easy to read. Complicated brands will make the website look crowded

Keep it fresh
Updating your website regularly will keep clients coming back for a visit

Make it easy to use
Make a simple click-away homepage that is consistent with the other pages of the site. The easier it is to navigate, the more likely they are to stay and browse through your website

Allow ecommerce sales
The proportion of businesses that sold over the internet doubled between 2002 and 2005. Make sure your website provides easy to find buttons for your customers to purchase products from your site

Build a customer list
Create a database of possible clients and use to keep an on-going communication relationship

Regular promotion
No one will look at your website unless you make them aware of it! Make sure that your website is on various search engines and on all your marketing literature

Go easy on the copy
Less is more as they say. Try to avoid large amounts of text on your website; it can often turn the customer off. Break it up into small amounts, which is easy to read

For more information visit www.lydie-designstudio.co.uk