Last month I approached the subject of
taking your business to the Internet.
If you want to have a website that might
actually generate some income, there are
several things you have to bear in mind.
In the last article, I went over items one through five on the 'do not do' list.
This month, I will approach the second five items to keep in mind ,starting with one of the most important.
6. Less is More!
Smaller business tend to want to go into great depth about every single aspect of their business in order to look like a larger company.
This is totally unnecessary.
Because the Internet is such an impersonal place, all in-depth information will do is make the viewer think they now know everything about you, causing them to move on to the next site. As with any type of advertising, you want to give the information necessary to stimulate the person's curiosity so they will call you for more information.
If you are a business selling a physical service, such as roof repair or interior design, a picture can speak a thousand words. 'Before-and-After' photos and one paragraph of text will have more impact than 20 photos and 10 paragraphs.
You know it took you weeks to develop that backyard into an oasis, but your visitors don't need to see any more than the start and the finish.
Keep image numbers low, only showing your best work. If you sell basically one type of service, do not overwhelm the visitors with 20 pages of what appear to be similar before-and-afters. They will get bored and leave.
7. Keep it current!
It is very easy to have a website created and then not touch it, sometimes for years.
Whether it is because the designer charges too much for even small changes, or simply because you kept meaning to but never got around to it, nothing on the web says, 'These people aren't doing anything,' more than out-of-date content.
The main offending items in this regard are the copyright dates, out-of-date news and invalid phone numbers. Even if you only make updates once a year, these things must be current, or prospective clients will think you are out of business and go to one of your competitors.
8. Counters can kill!
It is all very well to have a little counter at the bottom of your page, but nothing puts a person off more than seeing that they are visitor 00102 when the site was created in 1997.
Some site owners try to deliberately fool visitors by setting counters at unbelievably high numbers, but this can be even more detrimental, especially if the person revisits your site a week or two later and sees that the counter that previously said 10,000,000 now says 10,000,002. They will know you are trying to cheat them, and go elsewhere.
If you are interested in tracking the flow to your site, an alternative to a counter would be a hidden traffic monitor. From there you can see details about how many people have visited the site, where they came from, which keywords they used to find you on the searches, and even what time of day most people visit.
9. Busy is not your friend!
Many sites seem to have busy textured backgrounds on the pages and several different colors in the text.
These are really not good and can make your page content very difficult to read for a visitor without 20/20 vision.
Some color schemes and textures simply do not belong together on a web page.
How many times have you visited a site that has for example a dark blue background and purple text, and it looks fuzzy?
Keep colors basic and clean if you don't want to lose potential clients.
10. Here today, gone tomorrow!
There is nothing worse than a visitor going to your site only to get the dreaded 'page cannot be displayed' message.
With some hosts, especially smaller ones, servers can be up and down on an almost minute-by-minute basis. This is not good.
Even if your site only gets 100 hits a month, you can bet your life that, just like the phone ringing when you're in the shower, that one huge "set you up for life' deal client will visit ten seconds after your site falls over.
If you have doubts about server reliability, have your web designers install a monitoring script, which will alert them or you if the server fails. If server problems do frequently beset your site, move your host.
This is easy to do, and is a minor inconvenience compared to potentially lost income, especially if you sell a 'high-ticket' item or service.
Next month - Spyware, Adware and Redirects - the new Web Plague.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design. Since 1997,
his computer programming and graphic design knowledge have kept his company
at the forefront of the latest technology in web development.