For years the Internet, and success on it, has been shrouded by mystery no straight answers, constant change, conflicting advice and just plain confusion. But by adhering to the tips listed below you can guarantee yourself a sound web presence regardless of your market, target audience or geographic location!
One of the key challenges faced by businesses on the web, especially small/new businesses and charities, is the issue of credibility. Already the Internet is viewed as a somewhat impersonal medium which breeds a certain level of mistrust. For your web site to be successful you need to overcome this tendency.
You can do this by taking notice of the following:
Design: ignore people (and experts) who tell you design is not important, people just want content. As with anything in the physical world, packaging is important, and though it shouldn’t be the focus it sure helps with emotional appeal. Things are no different online good, clean, professional design is always a safe bet.
Up-time: make sure your web site is always accessible and all pages are properly linked.
Content: keep it up to date and refreshed every so often (one to two months at the least)
Contact Information: nothing is worse than a web site without contact information
Know who your potential customers are and cater to their needs and wants. Some companies are so wrapped up in what they do, the jargon they use and the neat little features they think are the coolest. This is all well and good, but unless your customer clearly understands what you’re saying then you’re fighting a losing battle.
Also, make sure your web site reflects the values of your potential customers. Is your market mostly business professionals? Adventure travelers? Stay-at-home moms? Teenagers or young adults? The key is to know your market and build your site to their preferences.
3. Build for Speed
No matter how fast things are they’re never fast enough. This is true for the Internet as well.
So what’s the impact on your web site? Basically, you have between 8 to 20 seconds to capture the interest of a potential customer. If most of this time is spent waiting for items to download on their screen then you guessed it – they’re heading elsewhere.
To minimize waiting, make graphics small and compress them wherever possible. Photoshop offers a “Save for Web” option (when you’re saving your images) that does a fantastic job of bringing the image size down. On your home page, use flashy technology sparingly (Flash, animation, Audio/Video) and only if it’s absolutely critical to your presentation.
4. Don’t Re-invent the Wheel
An all too common problem is the fact that some web sites try to be too cute. Navigation should always be simple and never leave your audience guessing what’s behind the next click.
Instead of common terms like “Mission”, you could use “Tenets” but what does this mean to your customer? Resist the urge to be complicated and use Navigation terms that are common. To describe who you are use terms like “About Us”, “Profile” or “Who We Are” there’s no guessing. If you offer services then list them under a main link called “Services.” You get the point.
5. Make Payment Easy
Offer a few different methods of payment for your customer. If you don’t take credit cards right now, apply for a Merchant Account.
Of course, you can also register a PayPal account. PayPal is recognized and trusted as one of the best ways to transfer funds online.
Make sure the payment process is clear, easy to access and intuitive to use. Eliminate or consolidate as many steps as possible by not asking for more information than is required.
Make sure your web site is consistent from front to back. Nothing is more unsettling that navigating a web site that takes you to completely different looking pages, colours and navigation menus.
Always maintain a consistent navigation menu so that your visitors are never more than a click away from anywhere else on your web site.
7. Design for Search Engines
Would you believe that 85% of Internet users find what they’re looking for via search engines and directories (for example, Google, Yahoo! and MSN). Well, there are certain things you can do to improve your positioning on these web sites so that you can increase relevant traffic to yours. Use meta-tag keywords, description and titles (use keywords when naming your pages) and never forget the ever important fact that relevant content within the body of your web site is critical.
8. Content is King
Good content sells products. Poor content punctuation/spelling mistakes, inconclusive, too technical, confusing doesn’t.
Ask yourself the following questions. Does your copy convey a message you wish to get across to your visitors? Is it compelling? Does it lead your visitor through the sales (or contact) process? What has been the response by those you have asked to critique or edit your copy? Good? Bad? No response (bad)?
Always double check your spelling and grammar even triple check.