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Web Success Tips

In today's culture, a great website design is the first step toward having a successful business, whether that website is merely meant to bring customers to your brick and mortar store or is a full-fledged online business. Once you have a website that offers efficient access to information and that is correct and updated. You will want to draw potential customers/clients to your site through a fantastic internet marketing campaign. Once you have all of this, it is crucial to keep on top of your game by keeping your website well-maintained and by keeping your website competitive.

So, how do you do all this? Take a look at the tips below for some ideas.

Web Success Tips:

Enable Word of Mouth on Your Website
Creating a Privacy Policy
Track Customer Responses to Email Campaign
Use Professional Images
Use a Quality Web Hosting Service
Do Your Homework
Design Pitfalls to Avoid
Create a user retention strategy
Personalize the experience
Make site as efficient as possible

 

Enable Word of Mouth on Your Website

Social Media is a great free resource for sharing the word about your business. ShareThis now offers a free tool to enable your website visitors to easily share your webpage with their friends/colleagues on their terms: http://sharethis.com/. You take the code they provide and paste it into your webpage code. Simple, easy and a great, free way to increase your exposure.

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Creating a Privacy Policy

If you are list building or even have a contact form on your website, you need to have a Privacy Policy on your website. For a simple, free Privacy Policy Generator check out this site: http://www.the-dma.org/privacy/creating.shtml. If your needs are more complicated, you will probably need to contact a lawyer to draft it.

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Track Customer Responses to Email Campaigns

Tracking customer responses to your campaigns is key to determining the successfulness of the individual campaigns. VerticalResponse.com is an online email marketing system that allows you to do this. You can create/maintain/buy customer lists, create web forms that integrate with their list features, create emails from templates (they have a lot of templates and they're customizable) or use your own HTML, and see which emails get opened and which didn't. Emails are customized to each recipient. Make sure you include calls to action and links to special landing pages on your website, so that when you view your website statistics you know which campaign the user clicked through. If you're not getting traffic or the emails aren't even getting opened, you need to analyze your campaign and adjust accordingly. Most times it's a just a little tweaking that takes a campaign from okay to great.

VerticalResponse, Inc. for small business

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Use Professional Images

It is important to use good quality images on your website. Images that look professional will add to your perceived credibility. Credibility adds to the users trust of how professional you run the rest of your website. There are numerous websites that allow you to buy quality, professional images on the cheap (some as little as $1). iStockPhoto is one such website that I trust with all my client projects. Click the link below to check them out.

View My Portfolio

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Use a Quality Web Hosting Service

The choice of who hosts your site may not seem too important at first. But once you realize the restrictions and hidden charges some web hosting companies have in place, you will know that it makes a huge difference. I've found that a lot of web hosting companies charge for everything (domain, server, etc.) separately, which makes their fees really rack up fast. Also, flexibility in programming languages is very important. Some hosting services do not support some of the most common web programming languages, such as PHP. This means that in the future, should you need programming on your site, you won't have the ability.

I've used at least 5 different web hosting services for my clients (1and1.com, godaddy.com, homestead.com, freewebs.com, ixwebhosting.com). I've found IX Web Hosting (click the image below to check out their services) to be the most affordable, most flexible (they support: cgi, php, coldfusion, asp, javascript, sql databases), most trustworthy and the easiest to use. Plus they have a lot of different tools available to help your site (free eCommerce engine, blog integration, forum integration, etc). For the past 4 years, I've used IX Web Hosting for my web hosting service, as well as for a number of clients, and I've had very few problems with service. If I do have problems, I use their 24/7 online customer service chat feature and my issue is resolved quickly. I highly recommend using them.

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Do Your Homework

One way to increase sales is to evaluate your website against the current Internet and technology trends. To stay competitive, you need to know who your users are and you need to know the current trends. If you haven't looked at your target market in a while, you might be missing the target. There are great websites out there that provide trend data and related articles. Here are a couple of quality sites to get you started.

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5 Design Pitfalls to Avoid

  1. Unfocused pages
    Problem: Often I see pages that are loaded down with links, text, and graphics, and there doesn’t seem to be one main area that is the focus. Without a main focus, users may feel pulled in many directions at once, unsure of where they should be looking. A page that is cluttered with text, links or pictures without a clear focus will make a user feel anxious. They may feel it will take too long to find what they want. Once users feel this way, they may give up and try another site.

    Solution: Create a focal point with a main graphic or text story. The focal point should be the main point you wish to tell your users. Then, organize your links, text and graphics into a clear, easy-to-understand system. Uncluttered pages create a sense of calmness, which may translate to the user spending more time on your site. By making the user feel good, you will create in the user a sense that your site is pleasant to visit. And, afterall, the main goal of any site should be creating in the user good feelings about your business.

  2. Too much going on
    Problem: Are all your colors bright and bold? Does your site have more than one blinking image or moving text? Do you use an image instead of a cursor? If you answered yes to any of these, your site has too much going on and you are at risk of losing users. Blinking images and moving text distract from the focus of your site and make your site annoying for many users. Using an image as a cursor is a pretty cool technique; however, most users come to a site not to be dazzled, but to get what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. Images as cursors are in the realm of blinking images and moving text. They detract from the information/products on your site and are annoying to many users. Once users think your site is annoying, you’ve lost them.

    Solution: Limit your color palette and use bold and bright colors to add emphasis to one or two areas of each page. Never use more than one blinking image or moving text.

  3. Large photo files
    Problem: Large photo files = slow load time = loss of users. Most users will wait less than 10 seconds for a page to load. After 10 seconds, they’ll try another site.

    Solution: Scale your photos down to size before putting them on your server. Optimize your photos for the web by using an image editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop. Test your site often to analyze load time.

  4. Poor navigation
    Problem: Poor navigation is downright frustrating. What often contributes to poor navigation? Broken links, pages without links back to the home page or other pages on your site, and inconsistent menus are the biggest complaints.

    Solution: Include a menu on each page that is consistent across your site and check for broken links often. Testing your site before making the changes live will help you to catch any mistakes. As with document editing, it often is best to have someone test the site who did not do the updating.

  5. Inconsistency
    Problem: Inconsistent design, menus, information.

    Solution: When you make changes, check all other pages on your site to make sure you include the changes on those pages as well.

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Create a user retention strategy

Your first questions for internet marketing were "How do I get customers?" Once you have those users, the next question is "How do you plan to keep your users?" By creating a user retention strategy, you are focusing on creating loyal users who will come to your site time and time again. It's the loyal users who really make your site float. So ask yourself: "What more can I do to please my customers?", "Where is my customer service weakest right now?", "What are my competitors doing now that I'm not?". By focusing on keeping you users excited about your site, you will not only create loyal users, you will also draw more business to your site through word of mouth.

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Personalize the experience

Personalizing the experience can mean that users log-in and then see products that meet their needs, which would mean less wasted time searching your site for the products or information they're looking for. It could also be showing users what they've purchased in the past and allowing them to re-order those products. By personalizing the user's experience, you are showing that you appreciate and respect their time. Sites that are easy to work with are sites that users will come back to time after time.

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Make site as efficient as possible

Site efficiency has many connotations. It can be broken down into: technical efficiency, navigation efficiency and process efficiency.

Technical efficiency regards how quickly your site appears in a browser window. Users want to find things quickly and if your site is taking a "long time" to appear, you may be losing users. Take a look at the most popular sites on the web and compare their download time to yours. If you aren't keeping up, it's time to do something about it. Make everything easily accessible from the home page. Don't make your users have to search long for information.

Navigation efficiency regards how easy your site is to move around in. Does the user have easy access to all the information on your site from the home page? Does the user "get lost" in your site because of dead-end pages? Is the navigation strategy natural or does it take a second for users to understand how to navigate your site? The ease of use is a major requirement for online users.

Process efficiency regards how easy it is to do business using your website. Creating a process that takes the least amount of time and energy for the user will greatly increase the value of your site. If your process is bulky, users may not want to do business with your site and you may lose them. Keep it simple, keep it fast, and you'll get users who last.

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