Thursday, March 18, 2010

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Integrating a Web Site to your Business

Many of us can remember the disaster of the 1990’s. The web was going to change everything. All you had to do is build a web site and customers will shop and we'll all get rich off internet web sites. Americans weren’t going to shop at malls: they would stay at home and order everything off the web. They would buy groceries from home and have them delivered. They would use the web to do anything and everything they could. “If I just build a web site and put products on it” many told themselves “then I can have a successful business.”

We all know how that turned out. Over 80% of web based businesses lasted less than a year because they made critical error number one: My whole Business
relies on my web site alone. This is a critical error that some people are still discovering the hard way. In some industries web sites do most of the heavy lifting for your business, but a successful B2B or BtoC business has many other strategies and marketing tools. Telephone follow ups, email response teams, and direct phone marketing all can be linked to the web site and enhance end user satisfaction and drive sales. Remember, most people still want to talk to or correspond with the company by phone before doing business.

The second error that a lot of sites still make is information overload on the front page. The front page is the forest, leading to various trees of information or products that you want your customers to see. You want to convey the general outline of what your company does. Then have links to various products or services that your customers can choose from. Keep it simple, with a main window, and then side links to other areas. Always have your companies email address and 800 Number on the front page so you can assist with any additional information a customer might need.

Too many pop up ads kills a web site. You’ll notice serious business web sites don’t have very many if any pop up ads. This is important because 1) it opens more windows on the page and can become confusing: “how do I get back to the page I was on….?” Also, remember, any ad that is clicked draws attention away from your site to a different site. Is the money you are being paid by that ad company worth losing a customers’ attention?

Bad imagery can ruin a web site: good imagery can build your web traffic.
The first impression that a customer gets of your business is front page. This image should grab their attention. It is critical to have solid, attractive pictures, frames and links on the front page. Many will look at a front page and decide from there whether they want to continue onto the rest of the website.
Choose a web designer that has a proven reputation and ask them for references. If you are building the site yourself, remember, this will take time away from your business and means you will have to spend future time as well.

A web site can enhance a business’ sales substantially if used properly. Remember to plan out well what exactly what you want your web site to do, integrate that into your business plan, and create a site that suits your needs. Having a web designer working with you is the best option the majority of the time.
Don’t be afraid to ask your designer questions or tell them when you think changes are in order, or something doesn’t look right. The site has to be functional 99.9% of or customers can get a bad impression of your business.

5 Important Rules in Website Design

When it comes to your website, extra attention should be paid to every minute detail to make sure it performs optimally to serve its purpose. Here are seven important rules of thumb to observe to make sure your website performs well.

1) Do not use splash pages

Splash pages are the first pages you see when you arrive at a website. They normally have a very beautiful image with words like “welcome” or “click here to enter”. In fact, they are just that — pretty vases with no real purpose. Do not let your visitors have a reason to click on the “back” button! Give them the value of your site up front without the splash page.

2) Do not use excessive banner advertisements

Even the least net savvy people have trained themselves to ignore banner advertisements so you will be wasting valuable website real estate. Instead, provide more valueable content and weave relevant affiliate links into your content, and let your visitors feel that they want to buy instead of being pushed to buy.
3) Have a simple and clear navigation

You have to provide a simple and very straightforward navigation menu so that even a young child will know how to use it. Stay away from complicated Flash based menus or multi-tiered dropdown menus. If your visitors don’t know how to navigate, they will leave your site.

4) Have a clear indication of where the user is

When visitors are deeply engrossed in browsing your site, you will want to make sure they know which part of the site they are in at that moment. That way, they will be able to browse relevant information or navigate to any section of the site easily. Don’t confuse your visitors because confusion means “abandon ship”!

5) Avoid using audio on your site

If your visitor is going to stay a long time at your site, reading your content, you will want to make sure they’re not annoyed by some audio looping on and on on your website. If you insist on adding audio, make sure they have some control over it — volume or muting controls would work fine.

5 Mistakes Businesses Make When Choosing a Web Design Company

Who can blame businesses if they sometimes choose the wrong designer for the job? After all, there are thousands of web design
companies out there. Quite a few of them have very nice looking sites. Yet, time and again, businesses make the wrong choice and end up having to go to another designer to sort out previous problems.

To help you make the right decision, check to see if you're guilty of any of these common mistakes:

Opting For the First Search Result In Google

While being first in the Google results for competitive terms is no small achievement, top position is not a guarantee of top quality. It's also not a guarantee of best fit for your business.

It's possible that the company at the top of the search results have poured lots of money into search engine optimisation (SEO). While this definitely isn't a bad thing in itself, again - it doesn't necessarily mean you're getting the best designer.

(Tip: instead of Googling “web design company” or similar, try and narrow the search to more specific and relevant terms for your business, like “ecommerce web development company london” for example.)

Not Checking Previous Work

Any design company should have a portfolio of previous work. Have a look at some of their completed sites in action to see if they're easy to use and professional looking.

Something to take particular note of: check the dates of the project, then visit that client's website. Is it the same as the portfolio screenshots? If significantly different it may be that the client has had to have a redesign soon after.

Choosing Based On Looks Alone

Yes, all web design companies should be able to build good-looking sites. And aesthetics can play a big part in the success of your site.

However, web design is as much a technical as artistic skill. If you're building an eCommerce site, for example, you need experienced developers who can handle everything from secure payment processing to bespoke content management systems.

It's no use looking pretty if your site doesn't work the way you need it to. So go with a design company that puts heavy emphasis on their development credentials.

Not Checking What the Support Options Are

What if the design company you hire puts together a complex site and then remains hard to contact for the next six months?

All good design companies should have some kind of support option in place. The very best will offer free support to get you up and running. This could prove invaluable when your site goes live.

Not Opting For a Designer With Relevant Experience

If you're in a tight industry niche then it's unlikely you'll find a designer who specialises solely in that type of site. However, consider for a moment the type of website you need.

If you sell a high volume of products online, you need a designer with eCommerce experience. If you need a training web application, then go with developers who've built one before. Try to ensure that the web design company has as much related experience as possible.

In the end, your decision may come down to whichever company gives you the best pitch. However, try to consider the above points before making a final decision. It could save you much more money and headaches in the long term.

6 Reasons Slow Load Times Could Harm Your Website

Have you ever abandoned a site just because it took too long to load?

Poor load times can have a big negative effect on customer conversion, and there's growing evidence that it can harm your performance in the search engines. So, here are six reasons why you should speed up your site (or wave goodbye to your customers):

It can affect your search engine rankings

At the end of 2009, Google announced that site load times will be a ranking factor in 2010. Although many in the search engine optimisation field have long speculated that speed could be related to rankings, this was the first time it came straight from a Google source.

What this means for your site is:

If your pages are slow to load, then they may rank lower in the natural search results in Google. For every position you drop in the rankings, the less people you attract to your site and (generally) the less sales you make. By the time you get pushed onto the second page of Google, you can expect traffic to decrease by as much as 70%.

It makes sense, therefore, to do everything you can to stay high up the rankings. Including working on your site speed.

It could send your visitors to your competitors

A December '09 study of 1500 customers by the web optimisation firm Gomez found that 78% of site visitors left for a competitor site if pages were slow to load.

In particular, sectors such as e-banking, ecommerce and price comparison sites suffer if they're slow loading. People just don't have the patience to wait in an online world of abundant alternatives.

It could mean your visitors don't come back

The same Gomez study found that 88% of respondents would be reluctant to visit a site again if they experienced poor loading times.

So, poor speed might not just affect you now – but in future as previous visitors remember their unhappy experience.

Visitors will spend less time on your site

Less time on your site means less opportunity to convert a visitor into a customer. It means less time engaging with your content (and your brand).

It also means that visitors are more likely to leave before a goal is completed, whether that's buying a product or subscribing to a newsletter.

It makes your site appear less professional

If visitors perceive your site as unprofessional, then their trust level plummets. Of course that can have big consequences on whether a customer is likely to buy a product or service from you. Would you trust a site that took ages to load with your credit card details?

It can decrease your conversions

All of the above comes down to one key factor – harming conversions. If your site loads slow, then you could be missing out on customers. It's that simple.

If you're annoying your visitors, or giving them reasons to doubt the reliability of your site, that's never a good thing. Add to that the possibility of ranking higher in the search engines with a faster site, and the case for improving your load times is overwhelming.

After all, nobody ever abandoned a site because it was “too fast”.

7 Tips for Choosing a Web Design Template for Your Business

Web design templates provide an easy way for businesses to run websites that are affordable and easy to maintain. Choosing a template, however, proves to be a frustrating experience for many business owners. To ensure that you select a template that includes the features and appearance that your business website requires, follow these 7 tips.

1.Determine who your target audience is and what kind of brand image would resonate with them.

When selecting a web design template for your business’s website, make sure that its design suits your business. The branding and image of your website template should align with your target audience’s interests. For example, if you are going to work as a consultant for large corporations, your web design template should be clean-cut and corporate-looking. The colors of the template should be subdued. On the other hand, if you plan on selling kids’ toys, your website template should be bright, vibrant, and colorful in order to appeal to children and their parents. However, you should avoid selecting a template with a very busy background and colors that are overly eye-popping because it can distract visitors and take attention away from the content. In addition, avoid selecting a web design template based solely on its colors. Colors can easily be changed down the line, so it’s important to choose a template based on its design instead.

2.Find a template with code that can be easily manipulated.

If you are technologically challenged, have a web design expert take a look at the CSS file of the template you’re interested in to determine if it has clearly labeled sections and if it can be manipulated easily. It is important to select a web design template that can be easily manipulated so you can alter the background, colors, and other aspects of your template in order to customize its appearance.

3.Select a template with the features you require.

Take a look at your competitors’ websites and determine what features your website will require. Find a website template with the features you need or at least the ability to add a plug-in that will enable you to create those features. Most businesses require a web design template that has a top navigation bar featuring the most important pages and sections of their site. Businesses also tend to need a template that supports video, advertising, and other important features. When browsing different templates, think about exactly what you need your website to do. If it is simply a company website that explains the services your business provides, a simple, minimalist template is probably sufficient. If you are running an e-commerce site, the layout of the template will probably need to be more complex and feature many “boxes” of information.

4.If you plan to use images on your site, find a template that comes with appropriate images or browse a stock image library.

Some templates already come with images, but if you want your site to be more original, then you have to find a stock image library from which you can select photos and graphics for your site. You can also hire a designer or photographer to create custom images for you. Some web design template customization services may offer you credits at a stock image library.

5.Choose a web design template with a simple arrangement.

If you are new to website templates, stick with a simple design with two columns: one for the text and one for the sidebar. Make sure that all of the text fits on the page and that it’s not necessary to scroll horizontally to read it. Once you become more familiar with how to use the template, you may want to graduate to a complex template that includes more columns or sectional divisions that help you organize your content.

6.Make sure that the template you choose is compatible with most browsers.

To ensure that the web design template you choose looks the same for everyone who visits your site, use a template that is compatible with most browsers. In order to check whether your site is compatible with various browsers, it’s not necessary to download all of the browsers to your computer. Simply check out a website called Browser Shots to determine what your website looks like when it loads in different browsers. You can select the browsers and versions you’d like to check at this site.

7.Decide between Flash and HTML.

Select a web design template made with Flash if it goes with your brand image. However, if you opt for a template made with Flash, you must ascertain that the bulk of your customers have access to broadband internet. Otherwise, the template will take far too long to load and end up frustrating your customers. Another issue to consider if you decide on a Flash template is SEO. Flash is inherently difficult to optimize for the search engines, but it’s not impossible. Work with an SEO consultant who has experience optimizing Flash websites prior to selecting a template to determine which one would be the most SEO-friendly. HTML templates are the way to go if you want your site to download quickly, and the majority of your site visitors are in countries where internet usage is low. HTML templates are also easier for you to maintain and alter because they don’t require an incredible amount of technical knowledge. A major benefit of using HTML templates is that they are easier to optimize and tend to rank well on search engines. So, if SEO is a primary concern of yours, you’ll probably want to opt for an HTML template rather than a Flash template.

8 Critical Issues When Building a Web Site

One of the most important things you will want to do is decide on a web site
name. Your business websites’ name should be one that both catches the eye as well as relays what the web site is about. Deciding on a web site name can be tricky. However, if you are a business looking to create a serious business web site, you want to have a domain name that is relevant to your business and easy for people to remember.

When someone does a search on Google, they will view possibly 2-4 web sites before deciding on which one to frequent or put on their ‘favorites’ list. To make sure that one of these is yours, there are some simple steps you can follow to make sure your web site draws attention and keeps customers coming back.

Using a web designer is the best way to go. If you have one on staff great, if not, look for someone who has great references and shows you some of the sites they have done. Web designers’ costs can vary drastically from company to company, so shop around and hire someone who you can work well with. A good relationship with your web designer is critical, communication is the key. Hiring a web designer to build your website might be your businesses biggest investment. It needs to be a company that is available to you when you need their help with troubleshooting site issues.

Decide on a web site design and plan it carefully, this is an important investment, don’t launch until you are completely comfortable with everything on the site. Remember this as you build your web site by yourself or use a web design package or have a consultant do it with you and not for you. It’s very important if you have someone build your web site that they have a perfect understanding for what you want to do with your site. And it needs to be someone you feel comfortable working with. This is going to be a long term relationship.

The next consideration for your website should be what features you want on your web site. Why would others choose your website over your competitors? Be creative. Remember to always have a phone number on your web site and an email address that can respond to customers within 24 hours or less. You can even integrate your site with your small business phone system by having a dedicated 800 number on your web site routed to your business.

Try to follow industry standards. If your web site deals with internet and high speed bandwidth issues make sure you have everything from VoIP to DSL to Wireless and Cable Modems. Make sure your customer knows what impact this new technology will have on their existing business hardware. Some installs require interference with business phone systems for short periods of time.

Make sure your web site is easy for customers to navigate. One way to make your business website both functional and easy to navigate is using POS software and a word search bar and site map as well. If people can’t find what they are looking for quickly, this hurts your traffic and loses potential customers. Make your web site easy to follow, and make your most important aspects jump out at the customer.
If your site deals with phone system sales then you want a customer looking for VoIP phone systems to be able to get to that part of the web site within two clicks.

After you have developed the fundamentals of the web site, have it evaluated by people you know to see if it is user friendly or any changes or modifications they think should be made. Remember, keep it simple. And always have a customer feedback section.

Evaluate the web site yourself and you and the web developer re-tool anything that needs to be post evaluation adjusted. The more people that view and help edit your web site before it launches the better.

Finally, remember to give enough information but don’t overload your web site with too many options or tools. If you have an 800 number linked to your web site, this is a great way to get customers to call and find out more about the products you are selling.

Best Web Design

In the current era, more than 75% of world’s businesses have publicized themselves on the internet. Businesses operating from different countries are even more conscious to enhance their website design in order to be looked more professional and prominent. Impressive and catchy web design can help you market your business more successfully. With a nicely colored and attractive web design, your current and potential customers will be tempted to purchase your product or service at competitive rates and subsequently your market share will be enormously increased.

Generally people care more about outlay and certain remodeled effects on their website design but in actual these things don’t make much difference. Your website design must illustrate each product conspicuously on the website, detailing its key features and unique characteristics in a self explanatory manner. To some extent web designs are the most important factor involved in deciding the success of a business. In every business, its return on investment is appraised by the confidence of its customers. You need to have a very clear-cut image in your mind that what exactly needs to be introduced in order to gain visitor’s attention.

Most important feature of an attention-grabbing website design is its highly intended content which reflects the inner image of a company. Your website design and content are always interrelated. This means that a website with heart breaking content and stimulating website design can never grab the attention of its visitors. At the same time as a visitor will never be convinced by the content if it has poor and non professional web design.

In web design, other influencing factors include deliberated SEO strategy, highly professional and keyword enriched content and selective images to create a lasting impression on the viewer. Several businesses have spent a lot of time and money in making their Tulsa website design more professional and eye catching but for some reasons they failed to drag targeted traffic to their website. Therefore proper assistance must be availed in order to get desired results.