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Basic Steps to a Great Business Website
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!
How "Secure" is YOUR Web Site
A few days ago, an incident happened to me that has prompted the writing of this article. I’m sure that if this is an issue for me and one of my Web sites, it’s an issue for many others.
The Day My Computer Died
I’ve always been a skeptic when it comes to technology, especially computers and the Information Age. I used to think it was crazy how people would put their total faith into a machine, some even more so than in their faith in humanity. Human beings are flawed, imperfect creatures. I say this in a positive way because if humanity were completely positive and perfect we would have nothing to learn, and life would lose its vitality and mystery. Computers come from the same universal reality as humanity, so I believe that we should look at technology in a similar context. Computers are not infallible pieces of nature’s perfection.
Domain Names Security : How safe is yours
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Can You Rally Make A Substancial Income With An Affiliate Program
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The path of United States HDTV world
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Search Engine Optimization: Site Structure and Popularity
In the Global Internet era the industry presence is undoubtedly related to the company online presence. Where is the scope of the online presence limitations and does it refer only to the search engine optimization aspect or it broadens into many related components.
Creating A Network That Works
Do you ever stand in awe of those people who seem to know everybody and everything I know I do! Regardless of what youre looking for, these people have their finger on the pulse of the Net and know where to find it. Their network of resources and people is incredible! Yours can be, too. Its actually very simple to create a network that works to bring you business, offers feedback and provides those resources that we all need to have.
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Six Lessons for Getting in the “Right Mindset” For Starting Your Own Business
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Protecting Your Domain Names
Domain Dispute is no longer news unless a Madonna or Julia Roberts type of celebrity gets involved. However, greater now than ever is the risk for domain registrants to lose their domain names when they get involved in a domain dispute. The risk is originated from the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy the Policy approved by ICANN and the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act ACPA passed by U.S. Congress. The direct risk comes from reverse domain hijackers, biased panelists, and the unprepared registrants themselves.
Free, Legal Music Online
Almost everyone has heard about the massive crack down on Internet music piracy that has been occurring over the past few years. Napster was taken down although it has now returned as a pay service, other file sharing programs now require users to pay for a license and the RIAA and other similar organizations are doing their best to hunt down copyright offenders and put an end to their crime sprees. The consumers on the other hand argue that their actions hurt nobody, that there is no damage done to anyone by their not buying an album. Furthermore, they claim, MP3s allow them to sample a CD before purchasing it, thus actually helping sales.
A to Z Guide In Getting Your Free DirecTV Satellite System
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Contextual Advertising: Is it Right for You
If online advertising had fads, contextual ads would be the latest "in thing." Also known as "content targeting," they seem to be "poppingup" no pun intended all over the Web.Fromnews sites to privately owned websites, everyone and his brother seems to be dipping his "toe in the water."
How to NOT to Go Into Big Debt While Building Your Online Business!
Credit cards can be a great thing for the new online independent business owners who have just started their online venture. They are convenient, easy to use, and are very useful when it comes to taking those small baby steps that a newbie needs to start online.
Web Hosting: Shared or Dedicated - Which Should You Choose
Before you begin your search for a web host you should first determine whether you need shared web hosting or dedicated web hosting.
The ‘Website’ CHECKLIST : Domains, Hosting, Web Design
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The ABC’s of Cyber-Shop Set Up & Marketing: Affordable, Big League, Cheap!
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Unlimited Wealth Creation through Reseller Hosting
Web hosting can be an exciting business start up for aspiring entrepreneurs. All you have to do to set up your business is become a hosting reseller, i.e., provide hosting facilities to website owners. Here as a business owner, you are buying space from a big hosting company, and redistributing the hosting space to other website owners.
Making Money from Parked Domains
Let me tell you a true story. A friend of my who likes to collect domain names was describing a few that he had acquired. While he has a wide range of domains in various categories, these particular domains were all related to web hosting.
Setting Up Your First Web Hosting Account
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