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Seven Steps to Make Your Website Work Harder

By Anne-Marie Watson
Published Jan 07, 2011

There are lots of books on the subject of websites and it is advisable to read what you can to gain more knowledge about how to make your website work better.

But for those who have little time, here are some basic steps that many businesses still miss in development or even at post-launch performance, that can improve website performance.

1. Make sure your pages (especially the home page) are not too heavy with flash

How many times have you opened a website only to find they have annoying flash at the beginning which takes forever to run? If you are lucky there's an escape link but too many times people don't wait as they can't stand the feeling of wasting time while they wait for the flash to finish. In reality, it's probably microseconds but in today's world, no one wants to waste even a microsecond unless they have to.

This is not only a turnoff but loses valuable visitors before they have even read your home page. Save the money on flash and invest it in website tools or a better shopping cart.

2. Make sure you get the front page right

If there's one page you need to get right, it's the home page. No matter how good the rest of your site is, it's the home page that decides whether they proceed into the website or not. Why?

Once a visitor reaches your home page, you have an average of 34 seconds or less to make an impact before they move on, unless you provide something to grab their attention.

So while all your website needs to function well, give extra attention to the front door to make it welcoming!

3. Decide what Your website is for: product sales or advertising

Most websites are produced either to achieve product (or service) sales, or to sell advertising such as Google ads.

Good advertising sites usually have useful or interesting content that draws users back to visit to access the content so the advertising returns from Google or others deliver the main revenue. Product sales sites however, usually try and attract people to buy products, as the main form of revenue.

Rarely do you see websites that contain both. However, when you do, it is virtually never successful. It is difficult to run advertisements and still retain customer focus on what your product or service range is; so avoid the temptation and make a decision one way or the other: sales or advertising?

Once you decide, then follow through with the appropriate website content to maximise your results. Content will definitely be different for each, as will the flow of your website. Either way, you'll benefit more financially by taking a single-minded approach.

4. Build traffic

Even if your business has one of the best looking websites, with all the bells and whistles, it can still suffer from a lack of traffic (visitors to your site). Traffic isn't something that just happens by itself; it needs to be generated by marketing activity. Commonly used techniques that work well include social media, PR, email, video marketing, article marketing, Google Adwords and online advertising campaigns.

Promotion of your website requires its own distinct plan developed prior to launch and updated periodically with new activities to maintain building of traffic.

Once you have initial visitors, you will need to plan on how to get re-visits and interaction.

A powerful tool is search engine optimization (SEO) which is still one of the most widely used tools to gain higher search engine rankings. Attracting traffic on an ongoing basis is vital to website success. Any website without a plan to generate traffic is doomed for a short life span so start developing one before your website is past the draft stage.

5. Make it easy to do business with you

Another common place where visitors are lost from websites is shopping carts. High numbers of abandoned shopping carts reflect buyer dissatisfaction during the shopping process.

To avoid this common problem, you need to make transactions secure, streamlined and fast. Also, you need to make the transaction intuitive easy for people to understand what's going on and to complete their transactions. The best sites are those which are very intuitive to use and may have some features such as:

Not too many lines to fill-in

Pre-loading with details when recognizing repeat customers

Easy switching from checkout back to the products originally searched for

Clear instructions on how to complete transactions e.g. for payment process

6. Provide quality content that is interesting to read or helpful to customers

Good content is still considered the best criteria for website success because with this, your website will achieve:

more first-time visitors

more return visitors

A higher ranking in Google

Quality content helps create credibility and establish a business's reputation for expertise in their field.

This is particularly true for service businesses, where quality information can reinforce the quality attributes of intangible deliverables.

7. Update your website (consistently)!!

Having a website that is out-of-date is almost worse than not having one at all. It creates a poor impression as it can look like you are out of business or too lazy to update or too busy to keep your communications fresh. All of these look unprofessional and without any regular changes, your Google ranking will decline.

It is hard work to keep websites fresh and interesting but the end result is worth the effort.

If you follow these seven steps, then your business will be happily avoiding some of the most common website mistakes.






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