How To Make A Successful Website

Successful Website

Whether your Web site is for your family or for seeking your first teaching job, the goal is to create value through depth, avoid hype and let visitors easily locate the value your site provides.

1. Help visitors stay oriented

Make sure that every page on your site includes links that take return to your home page, the previous page or to another page. If visitors get sidetracked while browsing your site, you want them to quickly be able to return to something familiar or move forward to something that will bring them value. The HTML frames feature is perfect for this because you can reserve a portion of the screen for a menu of links to your content.

2. Enhanced but simple graphics

Thousands of Web sites truly are works of art by master graphic artists. But during peak business hours, bandwidth limitations might make it impossible for some people to access your site. Millions of home-based business owners use telephone modems and may rely upon your site to keep them in touch with their industry. At a minimum, use interlaced graphics and offer a “text-only” hyperlink at the top of the document so visitors quickly can select a faster option if they are not willing to wait.

Fun is Good!

It is a good idea to make your site fun to visit as well as valuable. But a business Web site needs to be something that people can use during business hours without fearing that the boss will walk in and “catch” them using it. Be wary of providing “cool stuff” links as an enticement to attract visitors, and go easy on the animation. To keep people coming during business hours, make sure your site passes the “boss test.”

3. Include multiple contact links

What a waste of your time and resources if a visitor decides to contact you directly and can’t locate the necessary information. People want direct, personal contact and cyberspace hasn’t changed that. In fact, a personal touch on your site may heighten people’s interest. Your site should contain frequent and obvious links that point visitors to business contact information within your organization–email, fax, snail mail address and phone numbers, if appropriate. If yours is a family Web site, however, personal information is not recommended, except for your email address.

4. Test it personally

Test your site personally to see how it looks and feels to your clients and visitors. Check it out using different settings (toolbars and directory buttons on and off); try it at different hours; use different modems (try slow and fast); different browsers (Netscape for Windows, Microsoft Explorer and Macintosh, for example); and different screen resolutions. Your site may look very different on an older, slower PC compared to a new top-of-the-line one. Periodically, try clicking on the links you have on your Web site to make sure that they all still connect to working sites.

5. Write well–it matters!

Take your time and edit your copy just like it is a term paper or thesis. Don’t clutter up your professional web page with a wall of text about detailed minutia. There is a place for that later on in your personal site. What brings interest to your site is brief, well written information about you and links, links and more links that deliver valuable information.

6. Submit it to indexers and directories

Contact every Web indexer and make sure they’ve got your URL. And, if you want your site to receive maximum exposure, use the title and the first 100 words for keywords and a description that will be picked up by Web search engines. Don’t waste your valuable title space on something generic like, “Welcome to my Home Page,” be specific.

7. Crosslink with other sites

Get your link on as many other pages as possible by linking your site with related sites. Links to other sites make your site more valuable because your visitors will know that you are a source for fresh, valuable, related sites from all over the Web.

8. Preview regularly scheduled updates

The movie theaters do it. Television stations do it. Even magazines do it. Try to include on your site a preview listing of upcoming topics and planned changes. You never know when a visitor might find nothing at your site today, but see something in the preview that will bring him or her back next week.

9. Start now and grow

You’ve probably seen Web sites that are “Under Construction.” Don’t be shy about applying this caveat to your own site. If you’ve got valuable information, get the basics out there right away. With the Netscape Composer you quickly can create some basic Web pages. Get the site up and running and let the search engines start indexing your keywords. Actually, your site needs to constantly offer new information anyway, so why wait until you think it’s “done?” A good Web site is never done!

10. Make it User-centered

The number one factor in a successful Web site is to focus on the needs of others. Provide value that rewards your visitors and they will reward you. Create a site that is sure to be on your most desired visitors’ Bookmarks by giving weighted substance back to them. And, make sure that your most valuable information has the most direct access with the fewest graphics.

Remember, your visitors are being crushed under the onslaught of the Over-Information Age. Make your site a safe haven for them and give them easy access to what they want.

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