This is where you come in. Content reigns as the most important component of a good web site. Have it and succeed, lack it and - well, forget it.
Before you even consider spending time and money on your "internet presence", make sure you offer something worthwhile for your potential visitors. This can of course, include products or services you sell, information you want to provide, entertainment, etc.
As important as content is, it can't go it alone. The difference between a good site and a great one, regardless of the information offered, is how well the information is organized, how it grabs the reader's attention, and how well the graphic design compliments the message.
Nowadays, if someone understands HTML, they call themselves a "web designer". Not necessarily so. Designing a web site requires a good eye for design, a well rounded marketing plan, an understanding of individual audiences, as well as an aptitude for the technical.
Plan a common look and feel for your site by repeating a logo or graphic that identifies your company. Keep the navigation consistent too, so your visitors will quickly become comfortable browsing your pages. Remember, surfers are confronted with endless sites to explore - help them to identify when they're in your space.
While some forms of advertising on the internet are still costly, there are quite a few inexpensive options such as links and banners. Another great form of advertising on the Internet is e-mail. Be careful, though, to target people who express an interest. Offer a way for interested customers to sign up to be on your mailing list to receive more information about your company. This way you won't be guilty of "spamming" (mass distribution of unsolicited e-mail), something we could all use a lot less of.
Respond to e-mail quickly! Internet surfers are used to instant gratification. By getting back to them right away with the information they've requested will show that you value their interest.
Allow for feedback. What should they do if they're interested in your product or service? What do they need to do if they want more information or want to express an opinion? Users who are interested in what you have to say, usually have their own opinions too...and like to voice them! Interactivity is what separates the printed page from the excitement of a web page. Give them the opportunity to DO SOMETHING! Forms are a perfect solution for this purpose.
Who is your target market? Here are some questions you should think about:
- are they web savvy?
- are they computer newbies?
- do they use the latest browsers? -or-
- maybe they haven't updated their hardware and software since DOS?
If many members of the audience configure their browsers to turn off graphics to reduce load time, text alternatives are an absolute necessity. Addressing these issues is often a technical job, but if you consider all of this ahead of time, it will reduce costs by reducing lots of tweaking after the fact.
Zoom in theory - start with high level topics, break them into groups, and then into subgroups.
Users usually skim the visual screen (prime real estate) and may not scroll down the page. Catch their interest! You want to either persuade, influence, assist, excite or delight your audience. So do it at the top of the page if possible...
Long pages of text will not be read by most people, unless they're really really interested in every detail of your incredible expertise! To help your viewers digest what you have to say, whenever possible "block out" chunks of info by using:
- bulleted lists with keywords
- charts and tables
- image maps
- horizontal bars
Can't thank you enough for what you've done. I love the website. It's so dramatic...the website is a work of art itself. --GH