The webmaster's biggest job is to get their traffic
up and keep customers/visitors coming back. Building
the site is one thing, but simply building and posting
a website does not guarantee traffic. In fact, a website
could be beautiful and an example of all the latest
technology and still not attract a single visitor if
not promoted correctly. Here are 10 tips to guide you
to success with your website.
(1) The internet is a new medium.
At least compared to print, it is. A website is a waste
if it simply re-hashes something which could easily
be put into print. Don't have the site be just an online
brochure. Put up features which take advantage of the
internet as a medium of communication. Filter information
for them. Provide search capability. Provide interactivity
with features like forums, quizzes and tools. Web visitors
like to interact.
(2) Treat the Customer's Time as Valuable.
When a person visits your website, you have their attention
for that point in time. You either need to use it or
you will lose it - fast. Most visitors have short attention
spans, what you need to design your site homepage so
that it grabs their attention and provides what they
are looking for right away. Its like walking into a
restaurant. If you walk in and just stand there and
nobody comes to greet you, you might wonder what is
happening. But, if the hostess comes and greets you
right away and walks you to a table, then you will be
there for awhile and eat. The same analogy goes for
websites. Don't overcomplicate your website homepage.
Best results will be obtained if you make it very clear
where to click to find what they need.
(3) Design the site for customers, not the company.
Your site needs to satisfy the needs of customers, not
the company. So, don't post content which is not really
useful to the site's customer. And avoid over-flattering
marketing hype about the company. It inflates the ego
of the company more than it helps your customer.
(4) Involve the Visitor.
Keep the visitor involved and make them feel like a
valuable contributor. Actively ask for the feedback
and suggestions. Ask for communication from your visitors
and answer that communication swiftly. When getting
that communication, capture their email address. This
will allow you to communicate with them long after they
have moved on and forgotten about you.
(5) Keep it Current.
You need to have content on your website which is timely
and relevant to the customer's life. Posting month-old
news is not interesting. Posting dry product information
which never changes is not interesting. Yes, you need
to have product information and other information on
your site that won't change much, but you can also post
more timely content. You can, for example, post content
about how your products can be used in certain situations
in life. Provide tips and techniques - things which
are immediately applicable and solve a problem.
(6) Pay Attention to Form/Design.
Some sites simply over-do it on the eye-candy. Big graphics
just for the sake of graphics often impress the site's
designer more than the visitor. Do not use graphics
that are large and purposeless. Remember, some visitors
may still be accessing your website via dial-up. Your
site needs to load up quickly for all users. A slow
website will cause your users to leave quickly. Also,
pay attention to graphic and design size. Many web designers
operate on fairly large screen resolutions and sometimes
forget that even though a graphic looks great to you,
it will appear enormous to somebody on a smaller resolution.
On the flip side, don't go too light on graphics. A
site which is poorly designed and using the default
font and no color is not very aesthetically pleasing.
Any web visitor, whether they admit it or not, judges
your company by your website unless they have something
else to go on. A well-designed site communicates professionalism.
A poor design makes the site seem like an afterthought.
When a visitor communicates to you via email, it is
best to use a web form. not only will this keep your
email address from being picked up by spammers, it will
also allow you to ask your customers for their email
address and then store that address for later use. Employ
the "push/pull" marketing strategy. A visitor
coming to your website is the pull, but later you want
to push content back to them in the form of a newsletter
or other promotional material. Start a mailing list
and use it. Invite visitors to sign up. Promotion makes
or breaks a business, and as long as you respect the
ethical considerations of your mailing list, you should
(8) Don't Operate in a Cocoon.
The internet is a medium which is shared by millions.
When you set up your website, don't operate as if you
are a self-contained island. Get out there and keep
in tune with what is happening on other websites related
to your own. Participate in forums. Post links to other
websites and ask for a link in return. Form partnerships
with other sites if it is appropriate. When it comes
to communication, people like personal contacts. Hiding
behind general email address like "sales"
and "info" is OK as long as there is a way
to also email you directly. A company site which allows
email direct to the management is good. Just remember
how much you hate calling a company and getting stuck
in their phone system. Sometimes you just want to talk
to somebody. Give your visitors that ability.
(9) Have a Plan to Attract Repeat Traffic.
Use newsletters, out-going email, contests, forums,
clubs, auctions - anything that will cause people to
return to your website. When posting links to other
websites, don't just send your visitors somewhere else.
They may never return. Provide them an exit page. Give
them a pop-up when they try to leave your site. Or at
the very least make external links open in a new window.
(10) Track Your Visitors
Pay attention to your site's statistics and react accordingly.
What are people reading? How are they finding you? Do
they just come and leave right from your homepage? How
long as they are on your website? Do they return? This
data is immensely valuable in fine-tuning your website
based on customer needs and wants. Remember, the biggest
mistake of any webmaster is designing the site for what
THEY want. A successful website is designed for the
target audience, not to impress the site's owner.
About the author:
David Risley is a web developer and founder of PC Media,
Specializes in PHP/MySQL development, consulting and
internet business management. He is also the founder
of PC Mechanic (http://www.pcmech.com), a large website
delivering do-it-yourself computer information to thousands
of users every day.