Tricks to Build an Effective Website

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Make it simple and easy to use, but be sure it’s professional.

One common question I am always asked is: “Do I really need a website?”

My answer is yes, you do need a website. Then I ask the questioner how he or she found me, and the answer is usually through our website. There you go.

Websites are a business basic and, as far as I’m concerned, an integral part of marketing and growing your business. It’s your calling card to the world.

Studies have shown that people often decide whether to do business with a company within seven seconds of visiting the company’s website. After seven seconds, your potential customers are either impressed or gone.

The primary challenge in designing a website is to make sure it functions properly. I can’t impress on you how important this is. That means no errors and no missing graphics.

E-commerce companies spend anywhere from $100 to $500 to acquire each new customer. So don’t choose the cheapest web developer you can find. Choose a web design firm that has a good track record and that you are comfortable with.

It’s also essential that you have an understanding of the key functions to be served by your website before it’s created. What will the site do for your business? Will it sell products, or will it be an informational site and point of contact for your business? It’s key to design the site to support the function or functions you’ve decided upon–but from the user’s point of view. It should be easy for your customer to navigate the site, select products and order them. If the key function is informational, keep it simple and concise, and don’t use too many technical terms.

Tips For Creating a Successful Website:

  • Make it easy to use. Make the website easy to access and quick to load. Be sure your site is compatible with all browsers.
  • >Include fresh content. Content is the key to success, and that doesn’t mean fancy flash pages or graphics.
  • Don’t get too wordy: Keep it concise and to the point. But have enough information on your site to indicate what you are selling and to entice customers either to follow through and purchase your product or seek more information on your services.
  • Keep your graphics simple. Your graphics should support your branding and content, not detract from them. Less is more.
  • Make navigation a breeze. Provide easy-to-use navigation links on every page. You only have a few seconds before a user decides to stay on your site or leave. Keep it as simple as possible, and don’t make it difficult for them to find what they are looking for. When I design a site, I always assume that the user isn’t web-savvy. I design the navigation and feel of the site so that anyone, especially someone new to the web, can easily navigate the site.Match your branding and style. Don’t be taken in by fancy designs and graphics. Users dislike this because they can’t find what they are looking for or the pages take too long to load.

Things to Avoid When Creating a Site

  • Pages that load slowly. Avoid flashy web pages. Although they may load without problems on your computer, not all users have cable connections. Keep it simple and clean.
  • Too many links. Don’t force your customers to go through numerous screens to reach the information they want. Be sure to plan out your site map.
  • Free e-mail address as your contact. A mistake I frequently see business owners make is using a generic e-mail address. It’s unprofessional and sends the wrong signal to potential customers. Use your company e-mail address, not a free e-mail address.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the many facets of designing a website. You can start small and let your site grow as you grow. It can open the door to many opportunities for your business on a global scale.

Francine Schill is a business owner, entrepreneur, speaker and author of The Successful Gal–The Entrepreneur’s Hand Book. Based in New York City, she coaches women on starting businesses on a budget and leveraging the power of the internet for business success.