Thanks to competition among Web-hosting providers, and the falling costs of Web storage, it's never been easier to get a Web site up and running -- from buying the domain name to building a site to setting up a payment system to tracking traffic.
Any one can create a website. There are so many free tools available that makes this task easy and as painless as possible. But just because you can create a website does not mean that it will be a good quality successful website.
If you are going to do business on the internet, then you need to make sure that your website is a success. There are many ways in which a website can be measured as a success. Most often people refer to the look of a website to determine it's success.
Although the look of your website is important, fancy websites don't make sales. All they do is make people’s mouth’s drop and say wow! They then move on to the next fancy website. There is much more to creating a quality website than just look and feel. Although the visual element of a website is important, it must not overshadow the other equally important aspects of web development.
To make a website successful, you must create a website that will be of interest to your target market and make them want to visit your website over and over again. In addition, your website should lead your visitors to take the action you desire, such as joining your mailing list, or making a purchase.
Your Websites Niche.
The first step is to understand and select your websites niche. Which corner of the internet will you reside in. You need to concentrate on one niche, and target those readers. Trying to cover a fruit salad of topics will not work. For example, if your website is about dogs, then everything on you site should be about dogs in some form or other. Your blog, your forum, your theme, your visual and graphical element should all shout out that this is all about dogs. Don’t be talking about cats, and horses, and butterflies, unless it applies to dogs. To have a successful website, you need to provide and target a specific audience.
Your Website’s Theme.
Now that you have selected your website’s niche, it’s time to select a theme. The visual elements of your site. Select colour that communicate to your audience clearly what your website is all about. Remember simple is better. Choose colours that match and do not conflict, as well as colours that are easy on the eyes. Let me be frank, not many people can handle shocking pink or bright green, even though your beloved poodle is dyed that colour. That's your choice of colours, your audience might not like it at all.
Always be consistent with your webpage design. This is a very important step to help make a website successful. The layout for your website should be the same on each page. If you make it different, your visitors will become confused. In addition, it will make your website appear to be unprofessional. Your website design should include the same layout, logo, and navigation setup on each page.
Using a CMS, or Content Management System will go a long way to achieve this goal. CMS’s separate the design aspect from the data so that you can concentrate on each aspect separately.
Backgrounds and Text.
This goes hand in hand with selecting the proper theme. But please, please be extra careful when selecting your theme that you do not have hard to read text and clashing colour for your text and background.
Studies have shown that the best combination is a white background with a dark or black text. Distracting backgrounds will make the text hard to read. A good rule of thumb is to just use common sense and keep your website simple. This alone is a great way to help make a website successful.
Animated Graphics and Background Sound.
Back in the 90’s this might have been acceptable. But a true feature of a amateur website is loads of animated graphics and horrible irritating tinny background music that you cannot switch off. Please people do not use that horrible background music. If it is one thing that scares people away from websites it is annoying background music.
If you're using animated graphics, it is important that you use them sparingly. One maybe two are acceptable, but my suggestion is to try and do away with animations. Graphics that continually flash are VERY annoying and may prevent your visitors from returning to your website in the future.
If people cant find their way around your site or if they can navigate to other pages, then they will leave and never return. You know the exact layout of your site. You know where every page is, what the page name is. But I do not, and neither do other people. Help me out here won’t you?
It is very important to include good navigational links on every page. They should be displayed at the top, bottom, left or right side of your webpage. In addition, your visitors should be able to get to any web page within your website within four clicks.
Be sure to include a website site map as well. This helps tremendously if one is looking for a specific page or you want to go to a specific page with one click. Also, search engines love site maps. It helps them to index your site more efficiently.
Using Meta Tags.For your website to be successful you need to include META tags between the HEAD tags of your webpage. META tags help the search engines to know what keywords are relevant to the webpage. They are also used to tell the search engines what the webpage is about. Many search engines will display this description within the search results. Many people think that meta tags are not used anymore. Don’t be mistaken. They are still used extensively by search engines and the like. Just not in the same way as before.
HTML Heading Tags.When you begin writing your content, it is very important that you use theHTML H1 heading tag with your main title at the top of your webpage. In addition, use the HTML H2 tags for your sub-titles. This is very important, as some search engines place relevance on the text displayed with heading tags. Think of heading as newspaper headlines. Their purpose is to draw attention to the most important articles, to briefly describe what the article is all about, and then to entice you to read the article. As the default text for the H1 heading tag is very large, you may want to use CSS style sheets to display the heading tags in the font style and size you prefer.
Spelling and Grammar.Always make sure you proof read and spell check your web pages for errors. I find it best to get someone else who has not written or already read the article to proof read. Because they will often catch mistakes you you have missed. This is a difficult one for me because I have dyslexia. But it should not be an excuse for poor grammar and spelling. It is also very important that your webpage doesn't have any broken images or links.
Browsers and screen resolutions.
Oh the pain of a web developer! Testing your website in the top browsers at different screen resolutions. There is nothing more frustrating for readers when your web page is displayed incorrectly on their browser, and is either too big for their screen or too small.But to start off, you can check with the most common and most used browsers.
Now I know you cannot cater for everyone. This is where good analytics come in. Over time you will be able to see who browses your website, what their browsers are and what screen resolutions are used.
For screen resolutions it is best to cater for the lowest common resolution. Most time that will be 800x600. But my stats show that today the most common size is 1024X768. Also remember to leave space for a left and right border. Don’t design right to the edge of the screen.
If you are using a fluid design, one that sizes with the screen, then remember the smallest resolution that your website can resize to and work on that. Normally 800x600. For your website to be successful you need to get the right resolution.
You can either open your webpage in your browser and then change your computer's screen resolution, or there are website's online that you can visit.
Another way to make a website successful is to make the website interactive. This can be done by including a targeted forum that complements your website, a form in which they can subscribe to an ezine, a feedback form to enable them to give their opinion, or an informative blog in which visitors can comment.
Important Web Pages
When you launch your website, it is very important that you include the following web pages:
- About - The 'About' page is used to tell your visitors about you and/or your company.
- Privacy - The 'Privacy' page is used to let your visitors know what you do with their personal information, such as their email address.
- Terms and Conditions - The 'Terms and Conditions' page should be displayed on your website for your protection.
- Site Map - A 'Site Map' is used to help the search engines index your website more easily.
You can learn more about all of these pages by doing a search through your favourite search engine. They are very important and will help make a website successful.
Metallica Is a Successful Band – They Have a Successful WebsiteThink of your website like a music band. The music business is very similar to the website business. Lets take the band Metallica, if you look closely at the band you will notice a few things:
- They have a niche. They do not sing about flowers and sunshine. Most of their songs are about pain, suffering, end of times and evil. They choose their niche and they stick with it.
- They have a targeted audience. Go to a Metallica concert and you will notice that all the people in the audience look similar. Long hair and dark clothes. I am sure if you asked them about their hobbies and interests you would find that they like the same things. I doubt that there are too many basket weavers at a Metallica concert.
- They have an image. Their logo looks jagged and sharp and shiny like a samurai blade. The logo looks like it could cut your head off. The band members all dress black and usually walk around with a frown. Their Albums covers do not remind you of a beautiful Sunday morning walk in the park. Skulls, crosses and coffins. Their image is death, or soon to be dead, or wish to be dead.
- They are always creating new material. Metallica has a lot of albums and they are still coming out with more. Every few years there is a new album full of death and suffering. They do not lose their old fans and they pick up new ones. By keeping fresh and up to date their fans keep coming back for more pain.
Having a niche, knowing your audience, having an image, and constantly improving your website are simple things, but they are the real secrets to having a successful website.
These four pillars do not just apply to websites - they apply to all industries that cater to an audience: authors, movie producers, music bands, clothes designers, all follow these basic principles. By ignoring these key pillars you drastically decrease your chances of having a successful website.
So to wrap up here are the simple steps for a sucessfull website or blog:
Conclusion. Do you have any extra points to share that I might have missed. Please share them in the comments below. If you follow these simple rules, you will have a successful website in no time. But keep in mind success is often a personal view point.