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Creating a Successful Site

Everyone wants to have a successful site and make money, but few know how to do it. Most Web sites are missing many of the essential elements. What good is a e-commerce site, for example, without a prominently placed "Order Now" button?

Today's most successful Web sites share some of the same building blocks. The items below are the essential elements for your success:

Opening Page

Your opening page should catch and hold everyone who visits your site. It's the most important page of your entire site. You have a maximum 15 seconds (some say 7 seconds) to convince a surfer not to move on to another web site. In this one page you should tell the surfer the entire idea behind your site as well as entice them to continue to explore within it. It should only be 1-2 screens long and the most important information should be seen instantly.


Make sure that your site has good, useful information that people want. Be brief and direct. Don't use complex terms that surfers may not understand. Ask someone else to proofread all of your text before you put your site online.

Navigation

Make sure that you have a simple navigation that is easy to understand and that is common throughout your entire site. It needs to be intuitive, predictable, consistent and highly visible. Navigation needs to tell users where they are within a site, as well as where they can go from there. The navigation should never abandon you, no matter where you go. If someone does a net search and they are plopped in the middle of your site, they should be able to navigate to other sections as well as get back to home from any page in your site.


Location, location, location

You would be surprised at how many sites neglect to include the company's address and phone number in a prominent place. Think about also posting driving directions and a map. While some may argue that putting a phone number on the site will generate dozens of annoying phone calls, the map will doubtless eliminate dozens of annoying requests for directions.


Graphics

Graphics are good to use and are eye-catching, but be careful. Make sure that you are designing your site to cater to your audience (Don't have pink flowers on a gaming site). Position Masters will optimize your images so that they make good use of color and are small in file size. If you must use big images, we should create a thumbnail picture that they can click on to go to the big picture. Don't make surfers have to download it if they don't want to. If you have a product to sell, a picture is worth a thousand words, use them. Animations are fun, but don't fill your page with them because it can get annoying, just have one or two to bring attention to an area on that page.


A search engine or site map

Big sites need a search engine that produces meaningful results. Smaller sites need a site map or table of contents that clearly lays out what content is where. If you choose to make it difficult for users to find what they're looking for, users will choose to look elsewhere.


A "What's New" section

Too many Web sites seem to have sunk into a state of suspended animation. Either nothing's been added since the day they were launched, or you just can't find it. The Web thrives on newness. To make sure that people come back to your site often, offer new information frequently. Whether you add new content to your site daily or annually, make sure visitors know where to find it.


Updates

Daily, weekly or monthly updates will draw people to your site again and again. By offering contests or giveaways, you will also boost your traffic.


Feedback Forms

Despite all the jabbering about the Internet being the first true two-way medium, not enough sites offer a simple way for customers to make their voices heard. The majority of sites only offer a simple "mail to" link, which opens up a blank mail message. This is not enough. You need to gather information from your visitors and ask them what they like and don't like This is very valuable information! If you cater to your surfers, you will have a more successful site. The most successful sites read all the feedback they receive and respond to it right away.


Order Forms

If you have something to sell, make sure that it's very easy for anyone to order your product/service and that there are many options for them to use (mail, fax, online, etc). By accepting credit cards on your site, you will have many more sales than if you just accept checks (make sure that it's secure however).


Privacy policy

If your site asks visitors to volunteer information about who they are, it has become de rigueur to draft and display a privacy policy. How will you use the information that visitors give you? eToys, a world leader the online toy market, has a Privacy Pledge that promises, "eToys will never sell or share your personal information with any other third party unless we have your explicit permission to do so."


Mailing Lists

Make sure that you offer some type of mailing list on your site. This keeps people informed with the latest information that is on your site as well as reminds them to check out your site if they have forgot about it.


Linking Instructions

Want more traffic? Why not encourage other sites to link to you and provide the HTML code to help them do it? The first place I saw this feature was on Yahoo Inc.'s Yahoo.com, and it remains the leader. Initially, it offered up downloadable logos and a few lines of HTML that let visitors install a graphical Yahoo link on their own sites. Now, Yahoo.com has a whole section called "Yahoo to Go" (http://www.yahoo.com/docs/yahootogo/index.html) that provides searches, maps, stock quotes and weather reports that users can put on their own pages.


Yahoo.com is the most popular site on the Web for a reason. Follow its lead.

Search Engines

Make sure that your site is listed in all of the major search engines as well as the minor ones. The more the better, every hit counts. Position Masters Promotion Package will register your site to over 19 search engines and directory's, plus add techniques to place you among the top hits in a search. This will make a huge difference in the amount of traffic to your site. Many "Promotion" services just submit your site to the search engines. But search engine submission IS NOT ENOUGH! We don't stop there. We also modify your pages with powerful strategies and techniques to place you among the top hits in a search. Proper promotion technique is what makes or breaks a Web site. Search engine priority is critical to your success.


Advertising

Once your site is up and working properly, it's time to advertise it. At the very minimum, post it on all of your business cards, letterhead, as well as any ads that you run. Find related sites and ask to swap links with them. If you have some money available, find sites that will advertise your banner and generate more sales/hits for you. Announce your site to everyone and everywhere you can, it's only going to help you.


Testing

No one knows what is best for you and your site, so you have to continue to try new things and keep your site fresh. If you try an ad campaign and it doesn't work, try a new one. If it does work, try a better one.

Information courtesy of Position Masters Website Positioning and Web Page Design.

 
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