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5 essentials for any web site

Rod Clayton

A quick check to see if your site is on track...

1. Get to the point.

Web users aren't looking for War and Peace. They want info, and they want it now! Research has shown that web visitors tend to quickly scan a page for information, and if they don't see what they're looking for at first glance, they'll move on to another site.

So you need to ensure you don't bury the good stuff in a lot of text. When you design the content of your web pages, you should be using the "Billboard Principle." That is, your visitor will look at your page for about the same amount of time you'll look at a billboard when driving down the interstate. You have to quickly grab their attention -- then they'll read on. 

Here are a few principles we use to allow users to easily scan our client's pages:

  • Highlighted hyperlinks and bolded important words
  • Meaningful and clear headings and sub-headings
  • Bulleted lists
  • One idea per paragraph (users will skip over any additional ideas if they are not caught by the first few words in the paragraph)
  • Half the word count (or less) than conventional writing

2. Design your site with your audience in mind.

When deciding what you want to put on your web site, don't think about what you like. Put yourself in your customers' shoes first and include what they want to see.

One easy trick is to think about what customers look for when they personally ask you for information. But don't stop there -- can you bring more visitors by providing online tutorials or videos? Be creative and use that creativity to build a useful site your visitors will appreciate.

3. Make your company information easy to find.

On the web, it doesn't matter if you're located in Raleigh or in Hanging Dog (yes, that's a real community) -- all your visitors have to do to get to your e-presence is click a mouse button.

But people still like to know who you are and where you are, so always put your company contact information in a prominent place on your site. This usually reassures customers that you're a real business, and that they can easily contact a real person if they have questions.

4. Update your site frequently.

Give visitors a reason to come back to your site. Add fresh news, photos, and information that will help build trust and keep visitors interested.

This is probably the number one mistake web site owners make. It's not like Field of Dreams -- they won't come just because you built it. You have to make and then keep your site interesting.

This is exactly why we build the CyberScribe Content Management System -- to give you a quick and painless (and powerful --- like superhero powerful) way to manage all the content on your site.

5. Build in user interaction.

Make the visit more interesting by allowing the user to participate, and not just read.

Web users today expect some type of user interaction at even the most simple web sites. Here are a few ideas for increasing user interaction:

  • Include a user feedback form. Your content management system should allow you to create your own forms on demand.
  • Try online polls -- they're surprisingly effective. Ensure your content management system empowers you to create forms and polls.
  • Implement online contests. One CyberScribe customer increased their web traffic by 1000% each time they ran an online context.
  • Provide a search feature.
  • Provide a chat room, bulletin board, or forum. While this doesn't work for all businesses, you should consider whether your business is the right place for creating an online community.