Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to Have an Effective First Website

Phyllis Zimbler Miller

The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" could be applied to the need for local businesses, book authors, or anyone with an idea or product for sale to have a website. Nowadays more and more people tend to first look up information on the web.

If you want your business, book or idea/product to stand out in the marketplace, you have to have an online place where potential customers can find you.
But the truth is, for people who have no website expertise, getting started having a website can be overwhelming:

· Which website designer/programmer to hire?

· How much will the project cost?

· How long with the project take?

· Does the website designer/programmer understand marketing principles?

· Will he/she make the website effective for online marketing campaigns?

· Will he/she make the website user-friendly?

While these questions can be paralyzing — it's easier to do nothing than to tackle these unknowns, you're risking losing your potential customers to local businesses, book authors, and others who do have an effective presence on the internet.

Where do you start?
First you need to get a domain name that effectively supports your business or project.
Make sure that you get one that is memorable, can be spelled easily, and is a .com (people try .com first if they're looking online for a specific website). If you get a domain name with .biz or .net, your online marketing efforts may send potential customers to your competition.

Second, you need to consider whether you want to capture the email addresses of people who come to your website and are interested in what you have to sell.
This "email opt-in box" can be a highly effective if you offer, in exchange for the person's email address, something for free that has perceived value. This can be a report or a discount coupon or something else that is related to the reason the people came to your site in the first place.

And, yes, the placement of an email opt-in box is important. If should definitely be "above the fold" — as high up on the home page as possible. And for maximum effect the box should be on every additional page. This way, if people decide on another page that they want to join your email list, they can do so without having to search for the email opt-in box.

The most important "real estate" of a website is the home page area first seen when a visitor comes to the site. This means that it is no longer considered effective to waste time with a cute flash intro that prevents a visitor from immediately getting to the heart of the site.

Another big negative is to waste real estate announcing in large letters "Welcome to my company site." The most important real estate should answer the question what you are offering in information or products that makes sticking around on your website worth it.

An additional website goal is creating a relationship with potential customers. Nowadays people want to know who is behind the site. Whose authority is being presented online? Thus home page pictures of company buildings are out; home page pictures of company personnel are in.

These are only some of the important elements that you should consider when starting your online presence.

While even these elements may seem overwhelming, if you find a website designer/programmer who understands marketing and is willing to be guided by your website goals, you can make these elements work for you without paying a bundle for your first website.

And once that website is up, you can move on to your next project: utilizing your website as part of an ongoing marketing campaign to attract more potential customers and to convert more potential customers into buyers. – P.Z.M.


Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a National Internet Business Examiner at as well as a book author, and her company provides internet marketing information with easy-to-implement solutions to promote your brand, book or business.

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