The Leap Into Cyberspace – How To Build A Great Web Site

What are you waiting for? There are more than 56 million American adults on the Internet with money to burn and over 100 million worldwide. Impressive numbers? Who wouldn’t want to try to tap this market? But its going to take more than an idea to upload your company into Cyberspace. Be prepared for some long hours and hard work . . . and that’s just for the planning stage. Generally, a company builds a Web site to sell products, either directly or indirectly to the consumer, generate new customers or simply to provide customer support and service.

Where do you begin the process? By researching what your competitors have done. Even though you may have a clear concept of what you want to accomplish, take the time to surf the competition. They just might have thought of something that you haven’t, something that would fit right into that clear concept of yours. Pay attention to the information presented and how it is presented. Are the sites easy to navigate? Confusing? Up to date? What do you like about each site? Dislike? What have they missed? After five hours of surfing the competition, you should be ready to begin planning your own.

In house or outsourced? Most small companies don’t have the resources to design, build and maintain a commercial site, but all too often, they hand it over to an inexperienced employee who once built a site for his Aunt Maude who sold wreaths. She never got any traffic to her site, and six months down the road, you might be wondering why your site didn’t work either. An Internet Web site is the equivalent of an international advertising campaign seen by thousands. Hire a professional who will not only plan, design and construct your site but will also optimize it for search engines and continue to advertise and maintain it.

Before you begin:

If you’re going for online sales, are your products saleable? Incorporate your plans around your target market. Who buys your products?

Young yuppies: give them a bright colored, jumping, modern looking environment

Adult males: use strong blues, bold lines

Older adults: strive for a dignified look, muted colors.

In other words, target your market.

Last but most important, make sure your company is set up to handle email, calls, transactions and deliveries generated by the site before it goes online. Every person in your company who will have any contact with customers should be familiar with, and able to answer questions about your Web site.

The professional look:

A professional Web site is simple and easy to navigate. Focus on providing enough information for the customer to make a buying decision. Seventy percent of your visitors are ready to buy now. Your goal is to get them to buy your product instead of a competitor’s. The customer’s entire experience on your Web site should be streamlined. No information should be more than three clicks away. Your site should be easy to navigate, with links provided on every page to navigate to any other page, as well as contact information; either email links or 800 phone number, or both. Forget the frames, fancy Java and ActiveX. Surveys show many viewers are still using older browser versions that have problems with these, and search engines have problems indexing them.

If you build it, will they come?

In a word, no. Most Web designers will tell you they will submit your site to a dozen search engines and you think they’re doing you a favor. They’re not. Probably 95 percent of all Internet surfers use a search engine to find what they’re looking for on the Internet. If your “professional” doesn’t know how to optimize a site for individual search engines and keep up with current research on getting sites to the top, chances are your site will be buried among the thousands of others and get virtually no traffic at all. That doesn’t mean, however, that you don’t have a job to do as well. Your Web designer can’t do it all. Your Web site address should be on every piece of paper your company has . . . letterheads, business cards, invoices, newspaper and magazine ads, etc. You may also be approached to buy banner advertising. Yes, banners may generate more visitors to your page, but you usually have to pay for everyone who clicks on it, whether they buy or not. Forget banners, lower your prices instead. You’ll get more buyers.

Facts and fiction:

Beware the professionals who guarantee you 1,000 “hits” a day. Most people don’t know what a “hit” is. In fact, most people believe one hit equals one visitor. It doesn’t. A hit is an element on a Web page. If your Web page has a picture (graphic) at the top, that’s one hit. A logo is a hit and so is that red line across and the 14 bullets individually counted as 14 hits, etc. One Web page usually has about 50 hits. So, if your site has 10 pages with 50 hits each, one person could generate 500 hits. We don’t believe in guaranteeing hits. We simply believe in satisfied customers. These numbers are from Jump Online, you can check them out here -> online marketing Glasgow.