Creating success within your niche!
You’ve got a website. It’s got some cool graphics and information about your company and maybe even a shopping cart for selling products. You’ve tweaked your copy and checked your tags, yet your visitors don’t seem to do what you want them to do.
It’s time to take a step back and think about why you built a website in the first place.
“We have to have a website — everybody does!” This is the mentality of many business sites.
With that goal, inevitably you’ll end up with someone in upper management complaining that the site isn’t getting enough results to justify the expenses, although no one is sure how many sales or leads are attributed to the website. Or the CEO wants to know why the site’s PageRank is only a four, and traffic patterns don’t match last year’s numbers. Suddenly, everyone’s scrambling around to “fix” something that may not even be a problem. Sound familiar?
The problem is that many sites are built without a clear goal in mind. It sounds silly, but it’s true. It’s time to take two steps back and take a big-picture look at your website and what it can do for your business.
So what’s the goal of your website?
These are just some of the many possibilities. Remember, the Web is not just a marketing tool — it’s a business tool as well. While it is perfectly okay to have an Internet billboard that simply contains contact information, why settle for that when your site can do so much more? Even the smallest local business can utilize the power of the Internet to be more efficient and to build revenue. Once you start thinking about it, it’s easy to get excited about the potential for your site.
Once you have an idea of what you need the site to do, you’ve got to agree on some measurable goals. Too many people think traffic is the goal of a website. But think about it; would you rather have 1,000 people visit your site and do nothing, or have 100 people visit your site and take action? Does a PageRank of 7 mean anything to the real profitability of your company? These abstract, relative numbers don’t make a difference by themselves, and should not be the ultimate goal of any website.
More important are goals like new sales leads, an increase in average consumer satisfaction, decreased support calls, more sales, increased newsletter subscriptions or completed surveys. These are all measurable goals that DO mean something to your company.
Next, identify your target audience. Narrow this definition down to fit your unique customers. It’s time to think like your target audience. What do they need? What problem does your your product or service solve for them? Why are they even visiting your site? If you can’t get into their mindset, organize an informal focus group and ask them what they want. It’s that easy! Let them poke around your current site and give you feedback. Usability issues can be identified during this process as well.
You may find you need a formal usability analysis, a redesign or new content sections. Sometimes it’s even better to scrap the old site and start over from scratch. The important thing is that when you build a great site that keeps your users in mind, it will be easier to get good links, good rankings and all around good results. Your company and your customers will benefit.
20 Rules of Website Design
You have no choice. If you want to be successful online, you need to develop a website that serves the needs of your visitors in a manner that is both user-friendly and easily understood. This sounds easy enough, right? Unfortunately, no one thing is going to make your website a success. You will need to constantly be trying and testing new things, even if you currently have a website that is doing well. Why? Because what works today isn’t necessarily going to work tomorrow!
In order to help you, here are a few rules that you should follow when developing and maintaining your own website:
1. Fast Loading
If your home page does not load quickly, your visitors will lose patience and click away. Get out a timer or a watch that registers seconds. Now stare at your screen for 10 seconds. It seems like an eternity, doesn’t it? Web surfers are extremely impatient — if they can’t begin reading or viewing your homepage in less than 10 seconds, they will simply leave.
Make sure your offer is immediately apparent! If visitors can’t instantly tell what your site has to offer, they’ll leave. We’ve all arrived at sites, only to leave seconds later because we couldn’t figure out what the site was all about. Your visitors are no different! Be sure that your site has a clear and distinct focus — and that your focus is immediately revealed in your titles or headings. Even a site that sells thousands of products should have a focus. Need an example? Office products — thousands of products, one focus! Or even DVD downloads — thousands of titles, one focus!
You need to establish credibility. If your visitors don’t trust you, they’re certainly not going to trust your offer! As a result, developing rapport with your visitors is critical to your success. Don’t make fantastic promises or offers that you can’t back up. Emphasize benefits, but also share information — facts! Use percentages and give real, concrete examples. Use testimonials. The more information you give your visitors, the more secure they’re going to feel about buying from you.
We’ve all been burned before and every time it happens, it becomes harder for us to trust anyone. Online, it’s worse. Guarantees help to alleviate any anxiety the customer may be feeling about ordering from you. If you are marketing a quality product or service, then you should not be afraid to back it up! Offer a 100%, no hassles, no questions asked, money-back guarantee. Be sure to keep your promises!
5. Collect Email Addresses
Do this as quickly as possible, from your home or index page. Give your visitors a reason to give you their email addresses. Offer them a free report, a free newsletter or free updates. Get their addresses and their permission to contact them.
6. Limit Your Visitor’s Choices
Don’t give visitors hundreds of choices on your main page. Lead them through your site. If you are selling a product or service, lead visitors towards the “decision to buy.” Don’t leave it to chance that out of a hundred choices on your main page, they might decide to look at and buy your product. In fact, if you give them too many choices, they simply won’t make one. Take control and lead them to your offer!
7. Simple to Navigate
Your website should be easy to navigate. Don’t make your visitors wade through dozens of irrelevant pages before you give them the information they need. Make it easy for your visitors to move through your site — they’ll stick around much longer, and will be more likely to visit you again!
Be sure that the look and design of your site is consistent. Choose a background color and stick with it. Choose link and text colors, and use them consistently throughout the site. Always put your navigation buttons in the same place, be it along the side, or across the bottom of the page. Consistency of design will ensure that the experience at your site is a pleasant one. It will also let visitors know that they are still at your site, and haven’t linked off somewhere else!
9. Be wise when using Colors for text
Use colored text to indicate links (blue is traditional) and to emphasize important concepts or points. Too many different colors make your text hard to read — and look unprofessional. You are designing a web page, not a circus poster! .
10. Be careful when choosing Colored Backgrounds
Don’t get carried away using fancy background textures or colors. While it might look fabulous on your computer, it may look putrid on other computers using different browsers. Be particularly careful about using brightly colored backgrounds in combination with colored text. I’ve come across sites where I could barely read the text because it blended with the background color. Use contrast. Remember that different browsers read colors differently — some folks purposefully set their browsers to read only 16 or 256 color combinations. So be warned! While a white background with black text may seem pretty boring, everyone will be able to read your copy!
11. Keep Graphics Small
How big should files be? Should I use GIF’s or JPG’s? â€¨Graphic size (kilobytes) should be kept to a minimum so that images load quickly. You can control graphic size by reducing the total number of colors used or “crunch” them using any of the popular GIF or JPEG crunching programs available.
Always remember that your headlines are the most important element of your sales copy. Test them extensively to see what attracts and holds your visitor’s attention.
Your links can be boring, or they can invite people to click on them. They can either detract from your site, or contribute to it. Think creatively when developing your links!
14. File Names
Use descriptive and meaningful file names. Your files names not only show up in the search engines, but also at the top of your visitors browser and in their bookmarks! Would you remember why you bookmarked a page that looked like this:
Or would you be more likely to return to
15. Java, Animation and Wild Graphics
I’m not going to tell you NOT to use them. If, for example, you are a multimedia game designer demonstrating your skills, then it may be appropriate. But if you are selling vitamins, should you create a singing, dancing vitamin troupe? Again, it depends on who your audience is and what you are trying to accomplish. A singing, dancing vitamin troupe might be just the thing to teach children what the various vitamins are for. However, whether or not this kind of animation would help you to effectively sell vitamins to parents is another question. The technology you choose will depend largely on the kind of site you have and who your target audience is.
16. Let Visitors Know Who You Are
Make is easy for visitors to contact you — don’t make them hunt through your site for your email address or phone number. Part of building credibility involves letting people know exactly who you are and how they can contact you. Real phone numbers, real names and real addresses make a HUGE difference!
17. Sales and Site Strategy
Do you let your visitors wander aimlessly through your site, or do you gently lead them where you want them to go? If you are selling a product or service, you should definitely be leading them through your offer to a purchase. Even if your site is information based, you should still have a strategy. For example, at the end of an article, you could suggest another article that the visitor might be interested in viewing. Remember: Your goal is to keep people at your site!
18. Taking Money
Make it easy for people to buy from you. I’m sure this sounds ridiculous but I’ve seen far too many order forms that cause people to leave in frustration. People who make purchases on the web expect your ordering process to be fast and easy.
19. Fresh Content
Your website content must be up-to-date and relevant to your audience. If your site is information based, then you need to be sure that you are adding new content on a regular basis. Why would your visitors come back if there is nothing new for them? Plus, you lose credibility when your information is old and out of date. Make regular changes to your site. They do not need to be drastic changes — for example, quote recent web statistics instead of those from 5 years ago, change your testimonials regularly and update your copy.
20. Keep Your Purpose in Focus at All Times!
Don’t lose site of why you developed your website in the first place. Every aspect of your site should somehow contribute to your goal — be it to sell, inform, or simply entertain!
We strive to be the best internet company, not the biggest. With that said … We have focused our process on doing the 3 things that make a web site successful and profitable. Sure we can do e-commerce, Flash, and the one hundred other things that make up a GREAT website. Every website MUST have these 3 things to be successful.
Professional Website Design
Your Website has to look good, and be easy to use; your business depends on it. You have 6 seconds to engage your customer. We focus on creating user-friendly designs that convey your message with a strong call to action. By following industry web standards we also create websites that are accessible to the widest audience. Navigation systems need to be clean and intuitive to allow the user to find the information they seek fast. This means a great looking, easy-to-use website that converts casual browsers into buyers.br>
Your Web site has to do something, and do it well. Whether selling goods online, or capturing user data for further marketing efforts, your website must have purpose. Our skilled team of in-house web developers specialize in creating systems that seamlessly integrate into any design. E-commerce, Database integration, Email systems, Custom web applications, they all work best when the experience is seamless for the user.
Search Engine Optimization
Your web site must have traffic, and lots of it. There are billions of potential customers searching for products and services that you offer. How will they find you? Google, Yahoo, and MSN will deliver those customers to your doorstep as long as you have top rankings for search terms your customers use. We specialize in optimizing websites for top rankings that are relevant to the business.
Our philosophy is ultimately defined by our commitment to our clients. We work closely with your organization to facilitate the overall process of developing your web presence. We provide direction in the planning of your strategy, and assist you in defining your goals. We then provide leadership in the overall conceptualization, design and marketing of your web site in order to best realize your objectives.
We are dedicated to following a well-established process, as well as tested and proven marketing strategies for online success. jtdesigns will encourage potential and current clientele to utilize such methods in order to enhance their likelihood of success on the Internet. From text to pictures, graphics to special effects, e-business to e-personal – each site has its own unique qualities and requirements to deliver the intended message.
The Internet is primarily about information. Rather than seeking to be dazzled or entertained, research confirms that people use the Internet to locate and access information. Therefore, a web site’s effectiveness can be measured in terms of its accessibility, usability and information quality. If the Web is about information, then a web site must communicate clearly. To achieve this, jtdesigns constantly keeps the following in mind when developing sites:
â€¢ Use text content which is succinct and readable
â€¢ Color schemes which don’t dominate
â€¢ Download times which don’t frustrate
â€¢ Screen layouts which enhance the content
â€¢ Consistency across the web site which reduces uncertainty
â€¢ Navigation schemes which minimize confusion
â€¢ Contact details visible on every page to enhance trust
â€¢ Sophisticated feedback forms and info systems that are user-friendly
Taken together, these principles reflect the philosophy that jtdesigns has established
over years of web site development.