Defining your personal or small business website
Each day thousands of people and small businesses realize that a web presense is a must. This article is meant to provide you as you go about assembling the content of your new site, with a few basic pointers so that you do not make the same mistakes all over again.
The enthusiasm that one feels about having his/her own website can sometimes turn out to be the same factor that dilutes all your effort in the final presentation and content of your website. We tend to want every bit of information we have on our businesses, or ourselves on our sites. While this may be necessary in some cases, in most, it is not. Too much information, especially if not properly structured or relevant, will only drive away already 'click happy' visitors in an instant.
A few tips on how to go about defining your new website.
Write down the objective of your site.
Is it there to:
* Inform people about yourself/business?
* Sell products/services via the Internet?
* Build a community of like-minded people?
* Provide services to other businesses?
* A forum that addresses certain issues?
* Delivers news on a particular subject?
* Monitors certain developments/situations related to a particular subject?
* A hobby site?
* Seek donations for a cause?
Reference: Look for similar sites in your category. Study them carefully. See what they are doing right. Why reinvent the wheel?
Also see what they are doing wrong? Think of ways you can have a better site than theirs.
Quantity: How much information is necessary to accomplish the objectives of your site? Is this information structured properly and broken down into inviting pieces - instead of intimidating chunks of text? Many times I have come across these kinds of web pages - lots of info - relevant I don't know, because though I saved them for reading at leisure - I simply never got down to it. The purpose of that page was lost - at least on me.
Note: If your site is information heavy, do provide a site search feature. Click here to add free search capability to your site.
Freshness: How can you make your content interesting and different? Depart from the obvious and find that unique angle that only you will, if you study your subject long enough. This will allow you to present a new perspective/offering and make your website very special. Read: Content: Website fuel
Selling: While most people (especially those who own business sites) think the single most important thing their site should do is 'sell now', I think it should be about creating the ' Hey! I like this site. I think I'll visit this again sometime. Let me add this URL to my favorites list!' feeling in the visitor. This is especially true because research shows that people are most likely to buy if they have already visited your site before. Also, a major chunk of business almost always comes from repeat customers.
Repeat visitors: On the other hand, if your site is not entirely commercial in nature - what is it doing to convert first time visitors into regulars. Why have regulars? Regulars besides adding to the traffic, also tend to recommend your site more often and therefore contribute to more traffic. More traffic could mean more advertising revenue for information/community/special interest driven sites.
Colors: Banking and finance sites use shades of blue, green and maroon, technology sites use shades of orange, blue and gray, foodie sites use shades of yellow, green and red, health and beauty sites use shades of green, pink and purple - what color scheme goes with your site? Is your copy saying one thing while your color scheme conveying another message?
Images: Are you making judicious use of images? Are the images you plan to use absolutely necessary on your site? Are they enhancing the message and content of your site? Are your site images optimized for quick loading? Slow loading pages are the biggest turn offs and many a visitor are lost to these.
Design: Who is designing your site? Is it your nephew or friend with a basic knowledge of HTML or a professional web designer? Research says that aesthetic and professional design clubbed with user friendly navigation is one of the most important factors when it comes to conveying a sense of quality and credibility through a website.
Assistance systems: These can be any device/aid that prevents a visitor to your site from getting lost and as a result leaving.
Some useful assistance features on any site would be:
- Site search
- FAQ section
- Help section
- Consistant navigation
- Live assistant via a chat application
- Phone numbers and email addresses prominently displayed
All the best with your new website!