12 Tips To Great Websites

Why do some sites succeed while the vast majority of others fail? More and more website owners are asking themselves these questions. The answers are often more obvious than you may think. Below are 12 tips for better, more successful web sites.

1. Location, Location, Location

The old real estate saying applies to websites as well, but Internet location is really the website name. You must have a name that is easily remembered and that reinforces your business.

If you can use your actual business name, that's great. But if not, then choose one that will bring surfers to your site - your product. BestWidgets.com says it all, but JonesBrothers.biz doesn't help at all for a small business.

2. Focus

What are you selling? Concentrate on that one thing (or group of things). Unrelated products can confuse and irritate your viewer. If you offer many products, dedicate a page for each one. Up-selling great, but don't dedicate so much to it that the customer feels caught in a bait and switch.

Make mention of other products but do so subtly. Remember, too, that domain names are cheap to get and to host, so consider having a different website for each product or service grouping.

3. Load Fast

You only have between 10 and 30 seconds to capture your potential customer's attention. Make your site load fast, minimizing graphics to those really needed, keeping the actual page size rather small. Stay away from glitzy animations and sounds. That fancy flash movie may be really cool, but not so after you have seen it a dozen times!

You can make your secondary pages a bit longer once you have the prospect on your site. Don't forget to test your pages at different connection speeds. Your cable modem may blaze, but what happens on a 56k modem on dialup? You may be surprised. Also make sure that all your cool stuff works on all current browsers. FrontPage and DreamWeaver both let you test this, and if you are serious about your business site, you need one of them, or a good web designer.

4. Target Your Audience

Who are you selling to? It is critical that your site reflect the desires of your potential customers. Are you trying to sell to teenagers between 14 and 17? If so, the site must be designed for what they expect to see. Is your product aimed mostly at home-based businesses? Then you can afford to emphasize different products or services on different pages. The key here is to know your market and build the site to their preferences. Don't try to be all things to all people.

5. Credibility Is Crucial

Your contact info should include an email address, mailing address, phone number and a fax number, if applicable. Remember, too, that a PO Box is an acceptable address if you are working from home. If you are unwilling to provide this information to your customers, how can they trust (or buy from) you?

6. Privacy

A clear privacy statement is "must have". Every commercial web site should have a privacy statement posted on line. Do not think that because you are small, you don't need to do this, and all the other items. It matters. Provide an easy-to-see link to your privacy statement from every page on the site as well as from any location that you are asking your visitors for personal information.

7. Guarantee Everything

Offer an ironclad, no exceptions, money back guarantee. This also establishes credibility but it is important enough to stand alone. If the customer sees that your are willing to assume all of the risk, they will immediately be more inclined to trust you. If you are providing a downloadable product and someone asks for a refund, don't get hung up on their still having the product. Just ask them to delete it and then you forget about it. The last thing you want to do is to get into an argument with a customer.

8. Payment

If you don't currently take credit cards, start doing so immediately. You can either set up a merchant account or use a service like PayPal or ClickBank. Take checks on line through PayPal. Provide an address for those who prefer to pay by check or money order, but make it clear that you do not accept cash. Say that you do, and someone is sure to claim they sent you money and got no product.

Make sure the payment method is easy to access and use. Do not ask for any more information than is necessary to complete the transaction. If you don't need the info, don't ask for it. Remember, too, that if you are keeping customer credit card info online, you had better have a very good firewall and anti-spam software. There is a major liability potential here. That is why outside services like PayPal are so popular. The keep the card info and you never see even it.

9. Easy Site Navigation

Make site navigation easy and intuitive. While it may be artistic to make your index page all black and hide the link to continue, will that generate business? If your customer can not navigate your site to find what they want, they will go elsewhere. Limit the choices and direct your customers through a sales process.

10. Design Consistency

Make sure the site is consistent through out your site. New pages should look consistent with old pages. If you want to change the design of a new page, consider a total site redesign. Nothing is more disturbing to a customer than feeling as if they have just gone to another site. Keep colors and themes constant throughout the site.

11. Content is King

Does your website get the message across to your visitors? Is it compelling? Is the site user-friendly? Does it lead your visitor through the sales process? Have a few friends or colleagues review, critique and edit your copy to insure it is delivering the intended message. But first, make sure they are good spellers! Always double check your spelling and grammar.

12. Be Search Engine Friendly

About 85% of all web users find what they are looking for via the top search engines. Your web pages must be easy for the search engine spiders to find and navigate. Focus on your keywords and keyword density within your page, but don't try to write just for the search engines. Utilize the meta tags keywords, description and title. Use your keywords when naming your pages and within the body of the page.

Implementing the twelve steps above probably will not change your site into a LandsEnd.com overnight. You should see a marked improvement in the site's traffic and sales when you implement these suggestions. It may take a few weeks to a few months, but you will see success. And success breeds success.

© 2005 Richard F. Hill - All Rights reserved

Richard Hill is the author of the popular, and free, eBook
"Autoresponder Cash Flow NOW!" which is available at

In The News:

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Stephen Caples  Mississippi State Newsroom
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