Do you have a strong desire to build a website, yet don’t have a clue where to begin? That was me six years ago. Like you, I desperately wanted to be part of the online community and stake my claim on the world wide web.
What have I learned in six years? A lot! It has changed my life and can change yours too. Here are some valuable tips I learned from some of my biggest mistakes building a website and working online.
Let’s Get Started.
Have you ever been to a website and been totally confused about what it is they actually offer or do? I know I have. I get frustrated with websites like these and quickly start my search again for a website that focuses on the information I am after.
Tip #1 – Find a niche market for your website. Don’t try to be a website for everything. If your website is about recipes, make it about recipes and products that compliment your theme. Don’t throw in insurance quotes, apartment searches and etc.
Tip #2 – Stay away from wallpaper and dark background colors. Do you want visitors to see your services or your wallpaper? My guess is the reason you have a website is to promote a product or service, so make that the focus. Busy wallpaper distracts from the services and products you are trying to promote.
Dark background colors make reading web copy much harder and can be a bit overwhelming to most people’s sense of calm and well being. When in doubt, do as other successful online businesses do. Notice no wallpaper or dark background colors on Microsoft, eBay and etc. It’s okay to add a splash of color to your website, just not the whole page.
Tip #3 – Avoid using flash introductory pages. Sure they look nice and can be quite entertaining, but what do they really do for your website? In my opinion, frustrate your visitors. In today’s fast paced society we want the facts and information quickly. Remember, there are still plenty of dial-up users who will become frustrated waiting for your flash page to load and will move on to your competitor’s website.
Tip #4 – Turn your speakers down for this one. Nothing scares a visitor off more quickly than entering a website and being blasted with music. Avoid using music on your website. It just isn’t professional, unless of course, you are in the music industry and your website is about music.
Tip #5 – Focus your web copy for your customer. They are looking for “What’s In It For Me?” Take time to write good web copy or pay someone who can.
Example of What Not to Do: Welcome to our website. We are excited you have found us. Notice in this example, all the words really focus on the company: our, we, us. Nothing is really about the benefits for customers.
Example of What to Do: Are you frustrated with website
An excellent book and learning tool for writing good web copy is, “Persuasive Online Copywriting: How to Take Your Words to the Bank,” by Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg, and Lisa T. Davis. I highly recommend it and can say from experience, it is well worth the investment. You can find it easily online at Amazon.com.
Tip #6 – To bold or not to bold…that is the question? Bolding text can be a valuable tool for drawing attention to a product or service. If you bold each and every word in your paragraph, guess what? Nothing stands out. Use it sparingly to get your message across. Also, the same is true for using italics. Use it in moderation to highlight keywords of interest.
Tip #7 – Easy navigation. Can your visitors easily find what they are looking for or is there some secret passage they have to discover to get there? One way to determine how easy your website is to navigate is to send a friend to your website and ask them to find a particular product or service. Guess what? If they can’t find it, neither can your potential customers. Keep your website clean and easy to navigate. A cluttered site will result in poor sales. Visitors become frustrated when they cannot quickly find what they are looking for on a website.
Tip #8 – How can your visitors contact you? I have browsed websites where there is absolutely no way to contact the owner and I am amazed at why anyone would do this. What this tells me is there is “no” and I repeat, “NO” customer service so why would I want to do business with them? The trust factor on the web is totally different than the trust factor of doing business locally. At a minimum, you should provide a contact form or email. It’s even better to provide a contact phone number.
Note: Respond in a timely manner to requests. Generally within 24 hours is best. Anything beyond that and people get hesitant about the legitimacy of your business and service. They want to know there is a live, eager person tending the store. Not one who checks in every few days or weeks.
Tip #9 – Dead End – No Outlet – Site Not Found! By this I mean, are your customers finding those links to nowhere on your website? Sometimes it can’t be helped, however, check your website often for dead links, keep it updated and the content fresh. Finding a bunch of dead links on a website will send a very clear message to your visitors. No one is tending the store. Not much happening here! This is a sure way to quickly devalue your website.
Tip #10 – Should you link up? Yes! Quality link exchanges do work. Exchange links with websites that compliment the demographics of your website. If your website is about recipes, linking with other recipe sites, cooking sites and such are a good move. Linking to real estate websites, for example, would not be a good linking strategy. It is also best to categorize your link partners for your visitors: Italian Recipes, Mexican Recipes and etc. And, when possible, house your link pages on your own domain, not with a free linking service.
In closing, I am sure you are reading this article because you want a professional website. If you have programming skills and can write your own code, great! If not, there are many affordable, quality online