Basic Steps to a Great Business Website

Kandi Traxel

So much has been written on the topic of what makes a good business website, and I myself could go on and on about good content, meta tags & other search engine optimization, market strategies and so on.

But there are so many people out there that dont even know the basics of website creation; where to begin, where to place the graphics, what to avoid, and so many other things. Finding simple advice to get them going can be difficult.

Of course content, SEO, and marketing are absolutely essential, but first you have to organize and build the thing. And that is where a lot of folks get into trouble; right at the very beginning! And if it is not a quality site to begin with, or if you irritate your visitors, then all the marketing in the world will not help you get them to stick around or even think about coming back!

I know that many of the things that I personally look at when I visit a small business site are just pet peeves. I am in no way an expert on site building and promotion. I wont even pretend that I am. But as a website visitor, and e-commerce shopper, I do have an opinion on what types of things will make me quickly leave a site, or add it to my favorites for future browsing. My opinions are just that, but you can be sure that if something on a site annoys me, then others will inevitably find it annoying as well. It is true that not all visitors will be annoyed, but enough that it could cost you in the long run. Some things that we do or put on our sites are just not important enough to lose sales over. So re-examine your business site and ask yourself if there are things about it that could be changed, to attract and keep your visitors and customers.

Lets start with website hosting. No matter how many times it has been said, there are still small business owners who do not understand that you should NEVER EVER use free web hosting for a business website. Any credibility that you hope to establish for your business will go right out the window. I for one, would not even consider buying from, or joining the opportunity of a company that cannot or will not pay for good hosting service. If the company cannot afford one of the very many great hosting deals out there some of them as little as $5 per month with less than $12 per year for domain registration then something is very, very wrong! So before you even begin to plan the design of your site, then you need to register a domain name that is easy to remember, on a host that is reliable. If you are just starting out, Yahoo has very reasonable rates for hosting, with lots of space, several email addresses, free domain registration, and more. They also have a very good site building tool that allows you to point, click and build a site without having to know any html.

Lets talk about graphics and fonts. This is where a lot of builders go wrong. They have the domain, they have the hosting, but they have no idea about graphics use, layout and design. First of all, dont overload your site with graphics! They clutter the page, and can seriously slow down your pages loading time. Use a simple background a few simple graphics and fonts that are easily read by all computers! Verdana, Times New Roman, and Comic Sans are always good bets. Your site may look "cute" with some other font, but chances are 1/2 of your visitors will not even see it anyway! I have seen these sites address the issue with a little link telling me how to view the site the "proper" way, by going to another page and downloading the font that they have used. Why should I have to download a font, unzip the font, and install the font to view your site properly I wont do it, and when my browser cannot read your font, it can wreak havoc on your layout! It is easier to just move on and find what you are looking for somewhere else. Browse around and look at other sites in your business category. You will get loads of ideas on what works and what doesnt. If the site is difficult to navigate, then ask yourself how it could be better. If something seems to be working, then incorporate the same style into your own site. Of course, you dont want to simply copy the site. Besides the fact that you would be dealing with copyright issues, let someone figure out that you have done that, and your adventure in on-the-web selling is over!

Organize the layout and dont overuse Java scripts. It is essential to make your site easy to navigate and without too many bells and whistles. Put your links near the top of the page, or better yet, side navigation is always a good way to organize the links to what you really want your visitors to see. Stay way from flashing text, and moving pictures! I have visited sites that have literally made me dizzy and sick to my stomach from all the movement going on! You dont want to overwhelm your visitors and make them run screaming from your site as fast as they can!

Speaking of scripts, there is one script that is guaranteed to help you lose sales! The Mouse Trailer! Ninety-five percent of the time, when I visit a site that has a mouse trailer, the image in the trailer blocks all the links that I try to click. This is not uncommon. I have been forced to leave these sites and shop elsewhere because I cannot click the navigation links. Not only has then been frustrating, but it has cost that merchant a sale. In my lifetime I have owned or used 5 computers. In that time, I have had only ONE computer that DID NOT do that. So I have had 4 computers that could not navigate sites with mouse trailers. Multiply those computers by even 100 and you might just begin to think, that even though that little trailing bee or those sparkling stars are cute, they are costing you a bundle in lost revenue. Get rid of the trailer for your businesses sake!

Misspelled words and bad grammar can really make you look unprofessional! Okay I know I am the worlds worst typist! I make mistakes all the time. Little silly ones that should have been easy to see, but after spending several hours typing everything up, and then reading and re-reading it, I have simply stopped "seeing" the mistakes. Type your page content in MS Word first and use the "Spell Check" function to check for mistakes. Then copy and paste the text into your web page. But you will still need to be careful; you can misuse a word and it will not be "caught" by the spell checker. Here area few of the worst ways you can use grammar on a site!

Products, Graphics, Links- I have seen the apostrophe overused more times that I could even count anymore! If you want to take your visitors to your Graphics, or your Products, then that is great. But leave out the apostrophe! The very basic rules of grammar that we learned in grade school tell us that the apostrophe is used to show possession in that instance and unless you are going to tell me about something that the product or the graphic OWNS, leave it off!

Stationery vs. Stationary- Note cards, paper and envelopes are Stationery. If you are standing still you are Stationary. It is possible for your Stationery to BE Stationary, but you probably wouldnt want to say that in your product description, so bee sure that you use the correct spelling for the situation!

Separate or Seperate- The correct spelling is Separate. Be sure to check that you have it spelled correctly in your text.

There and Their-If you are want customers to know where to find THEIR products, then direct them THERE.

Its and Its-The word "its" shows possession and the word "its" is a contraction for the two words "it" and "is". Use them carefully in your text!

Avoid unprofessional mistakes! After you get everything typed and you have checked and re-checked have a friend or two proof read for you. A fresh pair of eyes will usually spot the mistakes that you have missed.

Dont use background music on a business site! It is 1am, and you have finally gotten a few minutes to do some web browsing. You crawl into bed next to your sleeping spouse, boot up the laptop and get ready to do a little shopping. You find what you are looking for, you click the link to the site, and suddenly "Yankee Doodle" is blaring from the speakers and your now wide awake spouse in not impressed! I cannot stress this enough; music has no place on a business site! It is annoying, period.

Dont overuse the statement "Coming Soon". Scenario: I am e-shopping. I am trying to find a certain product. I visit an online store, and YAY! I see a button that is going to take me right to what I need! I am so excited that I have FINALLY found what I was looking for. I click the button only to be hit with a message that says "Coming Soon!". This is so aggravating! If you do not have it, then do not create a link that promises that you do! If you want folks to know that something is on its way, then say that in the text on your home or main store page. Dont trick me into thinking that I will find what I am looking for when I follow your bogus link. I will probably not ever visit your site again. Why should I You may just be telling me you have what I need, when in reality I will again be taken to an empty page.

If at all possible use a shopping cart on your business site! Your customers will not want to order via email or order form. They want to be able to shop, pay, and get a receipt right then. If you want them to fill out an order form, or email you an order and you "get back to them" with a total, then you run the risk that they will change their minds, find the item cheaper, or be able to get it faster from somewhere else. Paypal has a shopping cart that is very easy to setup and manage. If you are looking for a cart with more options and flexibility, then Mals E-Commerce offers a very good free cart that can handle just about any aspect of your business. It can be set up to use with any site, but does require a little more knowledge of html scripting. They do, however have excellent helps, tips and tutorials to help you set up even the most complicated of shopping cart choices.

Dont use pop up traffic builders! It may make your page counter climb, but are you getting REAL visitors, that REALLY want to see what you are offering Chances are your site simply popped up into someones face and they closed it just as quickly as they could. Also, with the widespread use of pop up blockers, chances are your site isnt even getting seen all that much. Dont annoy your own customers with these awful things. Find better ways to advertise your site, where you will get quality visitors that really want to be on your site!

About The Author

Kandi Traxel is a WAHM and the Owner of Misty Valley Botanicals-Bath & Body Products. Email:

You are welcome to reprint this article with all credits intact on family friendly websites.

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