Make it interesting and relevant.
Content is King, not flashy graphics and animations that take ages to
download. Make the content unique and interesting for your visitors.
Make your site attractive to look at and easy to navigate. Avoid
large, flashy graphics unless your site depends on them for its very
purpose and you are sure your visitors won't mind the wait. Make sure
the images you do use are optimised for smallest file size. Web
Surfers are impatient. If your site takes too long to load they will
hit the "stop" button and go elsewhere.
Make sure you are
hosted on a quality web server and that you have your own domain name.
Again, a quality pay web server will increase your site's speed
(particularly if you are successful in attracting lots of visitors
which is what we all want, isn't it?). Anyone who doesn't understand
why anyone who is serious about their site needs their own domain name
should ask themselves what looks more professional: a website address
the world.html or http://www.mybusiness.com?
Exchange links with
other sites. 50% of website visitors arrive from links from other
sites, rather than directly from Search Engines. Don't be loathed to
link to sites with similar content to yours for fear of
"losing" customers. Big mistake! We actually all benefit by
linking to sites with similar content, particularly if we can persuade
the owners of the other sites to link back to us. It's a big
world-wide web out there. Spread it around a bit and you will be
rewarded. Contact competitors who have effective Web businesses.
Praise them for their sites, and wish them well. Many
"competitors" have their own problems and challenges, and
you sometimes end up with a trusted friend and colleague. And often
they have slightly different niches, and you end up referring and
endorsing each other.
You don't want customers to leave your site
because of an error-prone ordering process. Test your site frequently
to see what sort of experience your customers are having. Test your
order form and view your pages while using different versions of
Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Cancel and restart an order
to see what happens in both the customer's browser and your
Update your content periodically.
Customers are put off by outdated content, which gives the impression
that your site is stale and no one's "minding the store."
Always have up-to-date information on your products and their
availability and delivery times.
Create a descriptive signature
file and use it at the end of every email, giving at the very least
name, URL, email address, and a brief description of service(s) and/or
product. Sometimes called the USP (Unique Selling Proposition),
this description is a vital part of your sig line. It describes the
product, service, organisation or person crisply and clearly. Once you
have that sig line/tag line, consider the following two steps:
interactive newsgroups and discussion forums that cover areas of
interest to you. Print out and save the guidelines and stick to them.
Participate in some groups by, at the least, introducing yourself.
Some sites welcome new member introductions, other groups prefer that
members post a message only when they want to address a need, ask a
question, or respond to existing messages. Contact list members
privately when you discover something they've said that will help you,
a client, or a colleague. Thank them for taking time to post to the
group. Contact list members if you've clicked on their URLs, visited
their sites, and been impressed with that site/business. Let them know
why their site impresses you. Offer to help others when you think
you've read a legitimate plea for help, if you have both the time and
ability to follow through. Pro bono. No one ever knows except the two
Create your own opt-in newsletter. The best way I have found
to build loyalty, trust and return visits to your site. Never
"spam" to try to drum up business. Always make your
newsletter "opt-in" and always include details with each
newsletter of how to "opt out." Make sure the information is
useful and not a blatant attempt at self-promotion. (That's not to say
you shouldn't give yourself a plug, but make sure it's useful and
relevant to your subscribers, and make sure it answers the question of
"what's in it for them"). .
Offer a support and/or
frequently asked questions page which is easily accessible from your
main page; if possible, also offer free phone support for your product
or service. Provide an opportunity for your customer to request to
have you call them directly, especially for product inquiries. Offer
your customer the opportunity to be notified of new products via email
and/or phone. Personalise statements and correspondence to your
clients - even if you communicate via plain text email.
to say "thank you" when people make the effort to write you,
asking questions, making comments, placing an order . . . whatever.
"Thanks" is one of the most neglected words in the English
language. After the completion of each sale, it is imperative you
display a screen thanking your customer. Do not place a random
advertisement on your thank you screen; it will have the effect of
appearing as though the thank you screen is a tool for advertising,
rather than a vehicle for a genuine thank-you. Follow this up with a
personal e-mail confirming that you have received the order and keep
your customer informed of any delay in the delivery process.
Adhering to these basic but important
principles will help you create a sound, trusting relationship with
your customers and potential customers and increase the likelihood of
your website being a success.