The 20 Rules of a Killer Website
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 Colored 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
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 http://www.neatsite.com/cgi-bin/Newsletter
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
- If you want to compete on the Internet then you must be able
to take credit cards. And if you don't, you will lose out -
BIG TIME! Online credit card processing will dramatically
increase the number of orders you receive. In fact, when you
start accepting credit cards you can expect your orders to
increase by as much as 400%. That's a big difference!
- You must offer a secure order page! This does not mean that
your entire site needs to be "secure" - just the page that
people place their final order on. If your web host does not
offer secure order pages, do not despair! You don't need to
move your entire site - simply have your ordering page
hosted by someone who does offer a secure server.
- If you sell more than a handful of items, shopping cart
software will help increase your sales. However, visitors
should be able to access and use shopping carts easily -
they should be able to add and subtract items effortlessly,
and they should understand what is happening each step of
the way. If they don't, they will leave in frustration.
- Be sure to accommodate those customers who wish to order (or
to consumate their orders) offline. You need to be able to
process orders by phone, fax and postal mail. You also must
be prepared to handle checks and money-orders. We still
receive many orders this way - why say "No" to a sale?
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!
----------- Condensed from the IMC Private Website -----------
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at it alone - when a bunch of highly successful webmasters
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