9 Tips for website success

While it is easy to build your website and then leave it hoping it will serve your business well, it is another challenge to achieve truly great success from your site.

In this resource article we look at 9 things you can do to achieve success with your website.

Tip 1 – Recognise the differences between web and print

Many website owners create content for their site by simply duplicating the information in their print materials (i.e. brochures, flyers, proposals etc). This is a big mistake as the internet is a completely different medium and needs to be treated differently to print, particularly when it comes down to copywriting.

Websites should embrace the technology that has been made available. Include features in your website that encourage visitors to interact with your site. Perhaps a forum, blog, polls etc. Provide a search capability – either to search your own website or a popular search engine like Google.

Provide scannable and concise text. People read slower online and usually skim the content. Break content up, use dot points and images as opposed to pages and pages of text. For long sections of text, provide visitors with an option to open the text as a PDF.

Tip 2 – Value your customer’s time

You only have a short amount of time to convince a visitor to stay on your website. Do this by having a great graphically designed home page that grabs their attention immediately. Make it easy for them to navigate through your site easily and quickly. Drops downs are an efficient method of navigation for larger sites. Provide the most sought after information in an easily found place.

Tip 3 – Design your site for visitors – not yourself

Another mistake website owners make it tailoring the site to their own needs and wants. You need to put yourself in the position of the visitors you want to attract and provide the navigation, content and interactivity they are looking for. Avoid over-flattering your business or yourself as this could turn people away. Consider hiring an experience web copy writer to write your content. Test your site with clients and potential clients and see what they think.

Tip 4 – Involve the visitor

Websites that do well and have repeat visitors do so by interacting with their visitors. They ask for feedback and suggestions on their products or services and act on it. Regularly communicating with your visitors will ensure they return to your website.

Tip 5 – Keep it current

There is nothing worse than visiting a website that has a great layout and design, but their content is out of date. Make sure you regularly review each page of your website to ensure the content is relevant and timely. Check for broken links and missing images etc. If you have an ecommerce website, try providing visitors with examples about how your products can be used in certain situation etc. Provide tips and techniques.

Utilising a Content Management System such as the one provided by Web Circle can be a great way to keep your homepage up to date. You can easily log in yourself and change the main page content on your sites pages. You can also easily do things like display the most recent site updates on the homepage or display popular products on the homepage without you even having to change the content yourself. This is the real benefit of having a dynamic content-managed website.

Keeping content regularly updated is also a good idea from a search engine point of view as the more regularly the content is updated the more relevant the search engines think your site is.

Tip 6 – Pay attention to the design

A professionally designed website will impress your potential clients and reflect a professional business. Ensure you hire a talented interface designer who will work with you to achieve the website you want and portray a consistent and professional corporate image.

Make sure the design is suited to your target market, and not the designers own personal style. Avoid overusing flashy elements that slow the site down and don’t contribute to the purpose of the site. Screen resolution is another factor to consider. Just because the website looks great
on your web designers 30 inch monitor, doesn’t mean its going to look the same on your visitors 17 inch screen.

The standard minimum resolution these days is 1024 x 768 pixels and your site should look good on a monitor of this resolution all the way up to a 22″ or above with a high resolution. Do this by having your site at a fixed width of around 1000 pixels and centred or have it fit the width of the screen.

Remember, visitors often judge your business by your website and so they should. Businesses that want to portray a professional image invest in developing professional marketing materials including their website.

Tip 7 – Build it and they won’t come

There are literally billions of website in existence today and thousands more being added every day. If you expect to build a website and people will automatically flock to it you are mistaken. All of the major media players have huge stakes in the web so competition is fierce. You need to give a lot of thought to how and why people are going to access your site.

Always include your web address on all of your marketing material such as business cards, letter heads, flyers, brochures, catalogues etc. Tell people about your site in conversation. Ask clients to log on and provide you feedback on it. Add your site to online directories. Use it as a delivery medium for your news releases. Run competitions. Do whatever makes sense to your business to get more people to your site and get them returning to your site time and time again.

Tip 8 – Give something away

If one of the goals of your site is to generate business leads, you need to work out a way to get people’s contact details. A great way to do this is to give something away for free. Perhaps a free eBook that they can download by registering or perhaps subscription to your valuable industry newsletter. Use your website as a way to get contact details and stay in contact with potential clients.

Tip 9 – Track Your Visitors

If you aren’t receiving detailed statistics on your website traffic, you need to speak to your web host immediately. This information is invaluable in determining how many visitors you receive on any given day, what search phrases they are using in search engines and more. Once you have this information it’s important to track it each month to see how you are travelling and implement changes/additions accordingly. There are also a lot of website measures that aren’t tracked in web stats. What about where you are coming up in Google or how many sites are linking to your site etc. Ask your web provider for a full report on your site’s overall performance.

The 9 tips mentioned here are broad tips that apply to almost all sites. Have a think about your site and measure it against these things. if you are not doing these things you aren’t getting the maximum return from your website investment.

Written by Dan Norris, Director of Gold Coast Web Design agency Web Circle on 5 August 2008

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About Alex

Alex Retzlaff is the owner of A Website Designer and Web Circle.

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