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Getting Started

Planning a new web site or update
By Mike Mills

Building a web site today is harder than ever due to the number of firms competing for your business.
Printers, internet service providers, graphic designers and computer programmers all want a piece of the action. Some offer a great deal on the price of web pages and graphics, maybe even search engine registration and DIY (Do-It-Yourself). However, this doesn’t help you to get started.

Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the scout movement, has inspired milions of boys and girls around the world with the motto, ‘Be Prepared’.

A detailed plan for what to include in your web site is essential. If you are in business, then you should have a marketing plan – you may use this as a starting point.

Next, add these 3 elements to your plan:

  • Specify what you want your site to achieve.
  • Draw a map on paper and divide your site into 7-8 groups of information.
  • Create 2-3 key phrases to centre your copy around.

You will save time, expense, and will get a much more effective site.

Are you selling your products and services online or offering detailed brochures to support your offline sales effort?

Focus Your Site.
A focused web site does better on search engines. Your site will be easier to classify, providing that your content is concise and follows the key phrases you set in your plan. Keep your message simple and that it meets your customer needs.

Many web sites are not well planned which means these must be redeveloped for better results. A good web site developer will help this process by building web pages with efficient code that is search engine friendly. Your plan will assist the developer in this part of the project.

The home page should clearly tell visitors what your site is about. You only have 4-5 seconds to grab their attention. Create content that evokes the visitors emotions, senses, ego or desire.

Your site must demonstrate credibility and trust. Highlight the most important benefit you provide. A headline and a related graphic can give users an instant image of what your site and organization can do for them. Turnbulls specialise in several businesses, minibus hire and car sales, the home page opens with graphics of cars, and a headline outlining their business focus. Readers can immediately identify what the site has to offer. Most sites include pages “about us” and “contact us” which help build customer trust. Consumers trust you when they feel like they know you. A few ideas for the “about us” page can include staff photos, your building, or anything that reinforces visual cues about who you are and build this into a memorable story.

How do you do business? What’s your company philsophy or mission? How did the business begin?
The “contact us” page should list your key personnel and several ways to contact them.
Tell people why they should contact you and what to expect when they do.

Inside pages support your sites focus
If you have a main product or service, highlight it on your homepage. Inside pages can contain more details or downloadable specifications. Divide your site into categories or sections if your site starts to build into more than a dozen pages. Introduce each category and link related pages with a short summary of what is contained in that section.

Simple and clear order forms
A shopping cart is not necessary for only a few products. Product pricing and information should be easy to understand. Hard to use sites or unclear procedures frustrate and confuse customers will lose you sales. Don’t skimp on important shipping info and make your privacy policy clear.

A few final ideas to help convert your visitors into customers.

  • Be consistent with your critical content
  • Create the best customer service page (help)[ FAQ format]
  • Encourage visitors to take action

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