Nobody ever comes into our offices and says they want to get “less value” from their business website, and yet many business owners and executives unintentionally sabotage their own online marketing by failing to see the big picture.

This is a little bit tragic for two different reasons. First, given the cost of a high-quality business website, you don’t want to see any of that money go to waste. And second, the costs of falling behind your competitors, or simply not profiting from your website the way you could be, represents a huge expense on its own.

With that in mind, here are 12 of our very best tips for getting the best long- and short-term value from your branding business website:

1. Invest in the website you want two years from now. Too many business owners and executives think about what they need from a website now, only to grow out of those needs in a short period of time. Try to imagine that your company is going to grow and expand, at least over the Internet, and ask for the website you’ll need a couple of years down the road.

2. Don’t treat Web design and Internet marketing as separate topics. A website with no traffic and no customers is a waste of time and money. With that in mind, be sure that your new design is married to an Internet marketing plan that’s going to help you be profitable for years to come.

3. Pay attention to content and images. Far too often we see a great layout that’s effectively ruined by terrible copywriting or low-quality images. Everything on your site should be designed to improve your credibility and attract customers, so pay attention to the details.

4. Make your business website the centerpiece of your brand. It goes without saying that your business website should feature your company’s logo, coloring scheme, etc. If you plan on changing those in the future, make the changes to your website first, since it’s the one thing most customers and vendors will see.

5. Get the necessary research before you begin. If you have question marks about who your customers are, why they buy from you, or what your competitors are up to, get the answers before you launch a new business website. The resulting info can help guide the design and marketing process.

6. Be ready for new devices and platforms. Responsive business Web designs let you take advantage of the rapidly growing mobile market without maintaining two distinct websites. That makes it a no-brainer for businesses that don’t need a separate, dedicated mobile presence.

7. Have a plan for promotion, updates, and ongoing content. Remember that your business website goes live, but it isn’t ever really finished. Your design team should have an editorial and promotional calendar in place to help you attract more visitors and keep your content up to date.

8. Don’t ignore hosting. A lot of companies treat hosting as an afterthought, but the right Web hosting package helps keep your site secure, lets it load faster, and makes little things like email and updates a lot less stressful. In other words, great hosting is worth the few extra dollars you pay for it.

9. Have an integrated social media marketing strategy. You already know that you can’t afford to ignore social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But, rather than simply maintaining profiles, make social media a part of your integrated Web strategy with profiles that you can send customers to, and receive traffic and inquiries from.

10. Attract local customers. If you look for retail customers, or have buyers who prefer to work with someone local, then you should know that more than one-fifth of all Internet searchers are looking for a product or service in their particular area. In other words, Google is the new Yellow Pages.

11. Choose a platform that’s easy to grow with. At the very least, you want a business website that’s built upon a content management system (like WordPress or Joomla!) so that you can quickly and easily add new pages and content as needed without changing the look and functionality of your site.

12. Don’t fixate on marketing only. Although Internet marketing is always a big and important topic, don’t forget that your website can be a wonderful tool for customer service (especially with strong videos, how-to articles, and FAQs), not to mention recruiting for new employees.

There is a lot more to getting a great business website than simply choosing the right design or installing a few plug-ins. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll maximize your return on investment, attract new customers, and make your next site last a lot longer.