Successful Site Elements

Note: This was a set of notes for myself. This is not intended as either (a) an example of successful site elements, or (b) an organized, useful resource for web browsers. You are more than welcome to review these notes, take anything relvant for your needs, and/or send comments and additions.

Overall Look Clean, Uncluttered, Professional, Attractive, Effective use of white space.

Message Reasons to stay: Information. Entertainment. Advice  Opportunities to contact people. Links to useful sites

Write To Be Scanned. If your text can be scanned easily, you stand a better chance of getting your message across.

Break up your text into small paragraphs that flow in a logical order. Bullets are another great feature to help you accomplish this.

Information about your product, easy to follow, easy to find, easy to order

Bolding and italics. Less is more! By using a minimal amount, your bold text will have a higher effectiveness. The same can be said for italics, but keep in mind that most fonts when italicized end up looking pixilated.

Keep your sentences sweet and to the point.

Speed Keep your front page simple and fast, as lean as possible. Stick to basics.

Keep the entire page around 30K. No single html file should exceed 25k in size. No single graphic should exceed 30k, should be between 6 and 8K. Each additional 2K adds approximately one second to loading. No single page should take longer than 25 seconds to download using a 28.8 modem.

Any graphic which has a directional aspect should be placed to point the eye towards the most important section of the page.

Navigation Your main navigation bar should run down the left side of your page, we're accustomed to reading from left to right and from top to bottom. It is important to have a well-defined navigational scheme based on the amount and type of information on your site. Navigational aids such as sitemaps and on-site search engines are also helpful.

Text Readability Your words need to stand out on your page - surround them with plenty of white space.

Divide your text into columns for easier (and quicker) reading - even two columns are better than one slab of text

Breaking it up into little 'chunks' for them through the use of headings and sub-headings.

Fonts  Select a font for all your headings and sub-headings (and stick to it). (just go up one size for headings, and then use bold on all headings and sub-headings). Plain fonts (Arial, Times New Roman, Garamond and Courier)

To draw attention to other important points, you can also highlight them by putting a whole sentence in bold or a different colour

On a long page it's also a good idea to have a brief nav bar along the bottom of the page (just home | top of page will suffice).

When you've found a system you're happy with, use it on every page so that your visitors know where to look for the information.

Make a blank page which has your page layout (columns), any logos or standardised graphics, alt tags and navigation bars already built in. Call this 'blank" and then when you make a new page, you have everything already set up and just have to enter 

Privacy StatementHow you're protecting their privacy. It's worth having a separate page which sets out, in detail, your policy towards their email addresses; how you accept orders; how you gather information; who has access to this information; how you

High Production Values. Consumers will not buy from an amateurish web site. Avoid ill-formatted email, poor spelling, sloppy grammar and inept punctuation.

Write effective copy. The Web is all about how you write and communicate. Instead of working on adding graphics and making your site look cool, use text as much as possible.

Make your site easy. If you want people who visit your site to order online, don't put any obstacles in their way. Whatever you do, don't force visitors to register.

Place your navigation system somewhere on top or on the left side. Make it easy for all kinds of people (both laymen and those who are technically inclined) to find their way on your site.

You might include a search engine of some sort to your products database.

Include your name, phone number, email address and street address to show that you are a real person with real products and services to sell. Show your visitors that you care by including your contact number and the time you wish to be called. 

Emphasize service."We guarantee that you will be satisfied with our products and services or we will refund your money with no questions asked."

Your site should offer secure online ordering.

When a customer does send you email, respond promptly.

Promote your site. Submit site to the top search engines

Capitalize on a few keywords at first and then increase it. 

Change your site. Regular change in a web site is one way visitors know your web site is inhabited. One easy (lazy) way to make your site "look" constantly updated is to list featured items on the front page and rotate them every few days. Implementing a weekly or monthly update will also do the trick.

Timely Once your weekly or monthly special is over, change the information on the page. If you are lucky enough to have someone return to your site a second time and he finds the same information that was previously there, you can bet he won't visit a third time. Note, however, that keeping your site's information current should not include a complete redesign of the site on a monthly basis. This can be as annoying as stale content. Also, be proactive. Set up a mailing list that can be used to notify site visitors when significant new information has been added to your site.

Banners suck. Free banners suck for free.

Set up an honest business, decent product, don't quit your day job. Get rich slowly.

Develop a survey on an interesting topic and administer it from your site. Announce your survey in e-zines, newsgroups, forums and mailing lists. When the survey is over, notify all the participants of the results. 

Give a quiz! Set up a short quiz using multiple choice and true or false answers. Show the results of the quiz immediately and provide the right answers to any questions answered incorrectly. 

Invite your visitors to participate in discussions at your discussion boards on your site.

Capture e-mail addresses and data from your Web site visitors. Give visitors a great incentive to submit at least their name and e-mail address. Offer them site updates, a newsletter, a free report, or anything else you have of value. Be sure to give clear reasons why it would benefit them to opt in to your e-mail list. Web site visitors do not return on a daily basis, though they do check their e-mail regularly.

Use your "thank-you" pages effectively. One of the most powerful areas of your Web site is your confirmation page

Listen. Create "listening" places on your site by posting polls and surveys and opening up comment areas. Get people

Start a conversation. Once your newsletter has an established set of readers, start a conversation within the newsletter format. Ask your readers questions, and post their answers. Asking for simple opinions and tips and then expand by asking open questions on hot topics.

Secure Thousands of sites are "robbed" every day of information ranging from text and graphics to customer databases and even credit card numbers. Be sure to have a strategy in place to deal with copyright infringement issues. Also, whenever you ask for information from a visitor, be sure you have an appropriate level of encryption in place. Network security issues can get very technical very quickly

Find ways to promote the uniqueness of your site. If your site is not unique, it is probably also not engaging.

Easy to Access Website information must be easy to access in the context of the entire web. Banners, emails and search engines or directories are the more well known ways to provide ports of entry. A good example of quantity linking is placing your web address on your email signature line. (A bad example of quantity linking is spamming.)

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