Author: Yogi Schulz
The web contains far too many sites that are hurting their owners more than they’re helping. On a daily basis, I see horrible design, confusing navigation, out-of-date content, excessive use of Flash and other forms of animation, bad grammar, worse English, broken links. You get the picture. Do I need to go on?
The web can be a wonderful place to build your business and enhance your image. Here are some ideas for a quick, extreme web site makeover. Don’t be afraid to take dramatic action.
Many web sites have turned into rusted, irrelevant relics after their owners lost interest. Web sites require care and feeding much like maintaining company machinery or mowing the lawn in front of the building.
Developing a continuing stream of compelling content, that will attract and keep your audience interested, requires some investment and some management attention. The cost isn’t onerous. You’ll be surprised by the number of interesting events your company can brag about once you start thinking in these terms regularly. Good examples of appealing content include product announcements, pages that duplicate advertisements from other media, investor information and customer resources to enhance the value of the purchase they’ve made. For good web site examples, explore the City of Calgary and the CE Franklin.
Avoid huge blocks of text that scroll on forever. Break up text into short appealing paragraphs with links to more detail. Design pages to display without scroll bars. Avoid bizarre fluorescent color schemes. Hire a graphic artist.
“Build it and they will come” only works in movies. Owners of successful web sites have defined and are executing a proactive promotion strategy.
It’s cheap and easy to place your domain name on all company communication. I include letters, invoices, business cards, e-mails, advertisements, shipping cartons. For example, every box of Purdy’s chocolates contains a business card with the company’s name and web site address.
Some companies find it cost-effective to appear as Sponsored Links on web search results through either Google AdWords or Yahoo Overture Precision Matches.
Build and maintain an e-mail list of as many of the staff at every customer as possible. Create similar lists of individuals you want to turn into customers. Don’t spam these people but send them a short, regular e-mail newsletter with links back to your web site. Aeroplan and various hotel chains do this well.
Poor web site performance forces your audience to stare at the hourglass for too long. We’re all impatient. Hourglasses are boring. Don’t inflict this problem on the very audience you are trying to reach.
Frequently, performance problems are due to an excessive use of Flash. While Flash can be a wonderful visual communication medium, don’t impose it on your audience. Offer links that start with: “For a Flash-based look at our product, click here”. This link provides choice and an implied warning to be a little patient. The Macromedia Flash Gallery contains several examples of superior Flash use that do not generate an hourglass.
Overly large pictures create unnecessary performance problems because the typical monitor won’t show the detail. Save pictures as smaller compressed images.
Use of excessive resolution, frame rate and frame size for video will cause poor performance. For a good example of how to use video, look at the hotel tours at expedia.com.
Keep pages small. Less than 150 kb is best. For makeover fast performance, use your Google experience as a guide and engage technical help.
Compelling content, pro-active promotion and fast performance are critical to web site success. Superior web sites perform quickly and create a memorable experience; even for serious subjects.
For some excellent examples of what not to do with your web site, go to www.webpagesthatsuck.com. You don’t ever want to be the daily feature at this web site.
C E Franklin
FoundPages is a Calgary based Internet Marketing firm
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Intergraph Holiday Greeting
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