10 Secrets for Website Design Success
by Renee Kennedy
When I started to write this article, I thought – I’ll quickly jot down the 10 things that people need to know to create and manage a successful website. Then as I started to really write the article – I realized – there is no way on earth that I can cover all the things you need to know in one small article. So…
This article is just an overview – if you want more in-depth coverage of each topic – subscribe to The Write Market Release – we have recently been covering the topic of “web copy” – we have 6 issues planned, just for web copy alone. [email protected].
I know you’ve heard it before – “A web site is never truly finished.” Well, those are words to live by. You must continually add to your site, reread it, and make it better. Repeat visitors are generated by a changing website. Try adding a page or updating content of existing pages once a week.
- WEB COPY
- Benefits v. Features
- A benefit of your product is associated with the emotion that it will conjure up in your potential customer.
- A feature of your product is what your product does.
- General Writing Strategies
Visitors must have the ability to scan down the page and find what they want quickly. Try the following techniques:
- Keep paragraphs limited to 2-4 sentences.
- Use Headings
- Use Lists
- Use Bolds
- Write it the way you would say it.
- Benefits v. Features
I wasn’t gonna say it but, “A picture is worth a thousand…” You know the drill. And it’s true! If you have pictures of your product – include them. Download time must be considered – but if you create your “img src” tags correctly – including the height and width – the pictures will load after the text and people can read while they’re waiting for the pictures to download.
Graphics can do good things for your site – but consider them very, very carefully.
- Graphics can create consistency – allowing your visitors to know they are at your site on every page.
- Graphics can aid in navigation – a button/background theme set will create consistency and help your visitors find all of your pages.
- Graphics can give your site a professional appearance which will help your credibility.
- Graphics can annoy or confuse people – loud and flashy animation make it difficult to read text.
- Graphics can slow your download time.
- Graphics can give the wrong message – do your graphics go with your products?
Navigation is how your visitors get around. If your visitors cannot find their way around – they are undoubtedly going to leave! Try these strategies:
- Your main directory should have a maximum of 8 links.
- Organize your site in a hierarchical fashion – use a main directory and subdirectories if you need to.
- Don’t underline text – unless it is a link.
- If you’re creative – use graphics to make a “navigational bar” or button links.
- Layout your navigation on paper before implementing it on the web.
Your credibility is of utmost importance when you design your site. Credibility can be achieved in several ways – here is a list:
- Guarantee or Warranty
- Professional Graphics and Design
- Secure Credit Card Processing
- Your Own Domain Name
- Complete Contact Information
- A Privacy Statement
If you remember that search engines are not the end-all-be-all, you will do just fine. Find several ways to promote your site – strategies that work for your particular business. Here are a few strategies that have been particularly successful for us:
- Reciprocal Links
- Online Directories
- Your Own Newsletter
- Post on Discussion Lists using a Signature File
- MAKE CONTACT
Get out there and start talking to people. You never know when a contact will either turn into a customer or a great business associate who can help you promote your site. Here are ways to make contact:
- Your Own Newsletter
- Discussion lists and sites which offer discussion groups.
- Email – if you see a website you like – contact the webmaster and tell him why you like it.
- Break the ice by asking advice!
Develop a task list – either a daily list or a weekly list – and stick to it like glue. Start to write everything down – keep track of which directories or search engines you’ve submitted to, keep track of your contacts, keep track of changes to your website and when you need to implement new changes. Did I say, “Keep track?”
The Web changes fast, technology changes fast, keep pace with the developments in the following ways:
- Subscribe to Newsletters
- Visit News Sites
- Visit sites which give out free advice on web design and/or promotion.
In conclusion – a website can be a successful marketing tool if you put energy into it and you are committed to making it work. Realize that it takes time – it’s not going to happen overnight. (Hey, it may not even happen for 6 months!)
And for my last cliche … “You get out of it what you put into it.”
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