Let Your Little Website Shine, Part 1Written by Lynne Schlumpf
One of great things about World Wide Web is that even "little guy" can be big. Your website can give appearance of a large organization, even when it's just you and family dog, sitting in your kitchen in your underwear (not dog, you in your underwear!). It's all about presence and appearance. This article discusses how to make your website look large, even when what is behind it is just getting started. The World Wide Web is making more millionaires faster than any other phenomenon in history.
Elements of a Winning Site The elements that make a website a "winner" are following: 1. Loads Fast 2. Looks Great 3. It's links actually work 4. Quick response when people request information, report trouble 5. Is Useful 6. Is Interesting 7. Serves a great need 8. Is Fun 9. Offers lots of free stuff 10. Presents an appearance in keeping with whatever you are selling 11. Sells in a very subtle way 12. Is not like everyone else's 13. Does not use email addresses retrieved from its contents to "Spam" people 14. Has some kind of newsletter that allows visitors to keep in touch on an ongoing basis 15. Has clear navigation
Now we'll discuss these elements, one at a time. Miss any of these crucial elements, and your website traffic will suffer. Ignore none of them, if you want people to "show up". Just like a boring preacher has a hard time getting people to come to church, just providing good choir music is not going to make up for it. Your website may look good, but if it serves no purpose whatsoever or is not clear in its message, it'll flop like one of those movies that doesn't make it in box office because first group of people to see it keep rest of them from showing up.
The first thing you have to make sure of is that going to your website is not frustrating: 1. Loads Fast: If your website loads so slow that people get bored waiting for it, your business will never get out of starting gate. Large graphics, lots of those great java scripts, lots of background bitmaps, and a slow server to run on are some of causes of this. No one will ever stay long enough to find out what you're selling if your pages are slow. The best way to test your site is to get on an average connection and time it with a stopwatch. You may be operating on a DSL or cable modem connection, so it's best if you can visit a friend who has a dialup and see how your website loads for him/her. Make sure your web hosting provider gives you enough bandwidth and a fast connection. We experienced this problem (among others) while stuck in a 2
Let Your Little Website Shine, Part 2Written by Lynne Schlumpf
I discussed speed of your website load, and now we'll discuss element 2:
2. Looks great: Please remember that this subject has so many opinions among so many people that it really is up to you in end. What you think looks great, may look stupid or overdone to someone else. If you get criticism in feedback from your visitors, keep it in mind if it is constructive. We'll just discuss a few things to help you decide for yourself.
The first and best thing to do is to find out what big guys are doing. You know sites that get huge hits. Study these sites. What about them is pleasing to your eyes? Is it a certain way navigation links are presented? Is it location of certain elements on page? What elements make up these websites that make them easy to look at? Do they have really cool graphics? Do they present content in an easy-to-look-at way? Notice that they don't usually overcrowd page. A lot of junk crammed into one page turns people off. Their lettering and graphics are clean-looking. No raggedy edges (aliasing). Keep their formats in mind when you design yours. What colors do they stick to? How do they present their menus/links? Time them. How fast do they load? What elements on each webpage catch your eye first. Look at these websites with a different eye than just somebody visiting there. These websites were designed by professionals doing this for a living. What types of presentation do they know brings people back. Look at it from an artistic and marketing eye. What about these sites provides a lot of marketing material?
Don't copy them, of course, but keep in mind where their navigation links go, where logo usually goes, how much content is on main page, how navigation links they have are pretty standard.