There are all sorts of extra tips, hints and advice on offer, to accept or avoid according to taste, so I have built up a small index in no particular order.
On the basis that the most important function of a web page is that it is found, then I recommend that you read the page on "How to get you web page found" from the previous index listing before you go on to comb through what follows.
When designing the layout of a web page, the first thing to do is to sit down and ask yourself what do you want to achieve, because there are too many pages out there that just say - this is us - this is our factory - this is our lorry - aren't we wonderful, which is too boring to be true, and accomplishes little because the page lacks direction. Alan Shaw of Carshaw Management Consultants, in a recent paper on "Leadership in Selling", demonstrated that customers really need credibility, honesty and integrity from the people from whom they are going to buy. So while the site needs to fulfill an objective such as creating a platform which will generate inquiries for a product or service, or generate sales, or just establish a presence to enable clients to view a product range, this integrity business must run as a thread throughout the site.
Having decided what we want to achieve with our page, we next need to find our target market, and direct the page output accordingly. We need to decide whether we are projecting our company's products or services towards the general public, to other manufacturers or service providers, or maybe even to our own shareholders, because their motivations will all be different, and maybe if there are different market categories towards which we need to direct the site, then maybe we should navigate each towards a separate page or set of pages, and then design accordingly.
Remember, an advert is a static and transient form of advertising because it is fixed in it's place in the paper, and lasts only as long as the paper. A web site is permanent, and at the same time it is dynamic, or in other words can change over a period of time, and can also be made to change according to whims of the reader, it can be what the reader wants it to be. Indices and navigation aids can take a viewer where he or she wants to go on the site, so the site needs to reflect that and draw different target people to different areas.
Having selected our target market, we need to determine which of our customer's primary needs we are trying to fulfill, and then feed them in percieved order of priority. We all have primary motivations for making buying decisions. The principal ones are - Pleasure, Pride, and Profit. These may be redefined as making life easier for ourselves, an enhancement to our ego, or simply the liklihood of making more money. It is an old marketing maxim, that we sell benefits, but those benefits must in themselves target one or more of the primary motivations in order to ring bells with potential customers.
Another old marketing maxim is that people buy people first, and therefore try to add a little of your style and personality into the pages and get away from all those pages that say 'here we are, we are the greatest, buy us'. A slightly more subtle approach can reap more benefits and you will be better able to get your message across.
You need to consider why people should buy your product or service rather than from your competitors. What have you got that they haven't. You need to find your niche, that something special that only you can supply. Do a brainstorming on it, write down all the reasons why you think you are ahead of the competition or in other words - your selling points. having established your selling points, we now have the bones of a story - we have selling points which have benefits that respond to buying motives.
This article could equally be applied to newspaper or periodical advertising as to web pages because the principles are the same.
First, think about words for a moment. Think about how powerful they can be. Words.... so powerful they can cause people to fight or a whole country to go to war. Words make us laugh and they can make us cry but they can also make people buy! Ads written with a proven formula and with the right words can pull responses like crazy. If the ad is in a place where it can be read, the responses will just keep coming.
Save up to 50% on Groceries!This ad was written using the basic formula that most copywriters use. The fact is that anyone can use this formula and when you do, you will see measurable results. Here is the formula:
When people are scanning ads, and their eyes move across your ad, you only have a few seconds if that to capture their attention. The first objective is to write a headline that can attract the reader's Attention. This is the first step of the four part formula for writing successful ads. You want it to be your ad that grabs the reader's attention. You may have to write pages of different headlines to get one that stands out from the rest but this is really a small price to make the difference between success and failure.
Start by writing down the main benefit of your product or service. A benefit is something that fills a need in the reader's life. It may be more money or better health. It maybe a service that saves valuable time or just makes life easier in some way. When you know what your main benefit is, start writing headlines using power words to emphasize and magnify your main benefit. Before you begin, it would be wise to read ads for the purpose of learning to write ads. You will start to see the big differences between ads.... from the bland to the downright compelling! One person might write 'Eggs for Sale' but the next person may make his eggs sound so much better even if the eggs are identical! 'Farm Fresh Eggs for Sale!' Now don't those eggs sound much better?
Once you have a headline that you feel can get the reader's attention, your next job is to develop 'Interest and Desire'. As with most ads, you will have to do this with a limited amount of words so don't waste them! The reader of your ad should be persuaded that what you offer will solve one of their problems. Let them know that your Herbal Pain Relief Formula really will give them a pain free life once again! Use power words to emphasize the benefits they will get if they respond to your ad. Solve one of the reader's problems with words and your are just about there!
One of the biggest mistakes made by ad writers is when they fail to ask the reader to take 'action'. If you have a Herbal Pain Formula website, you might close the ad by writing 'To End Your Pain - Click Here! If you want the person to respond by email, by phone or to write to you, tell them how to respond. If you don't tell them to respond they probably won't! Here is how an ad for a herbal pain formula might read:
Live Pain Free!Ad writing or copywriting is an art and you can't learn it all from any one article. But if you will seek out the information and spend some time at developing this art, you can see a difference in your response rates. With time, you may even write an award winner that could pull for years to come!
The best way to keep people coming back to a web site is to provide interesting content and update it regularly. A company which sells widgets should provide as much information as possible about widgets--what they are, how they're made, what they do, where to find them, how to take care of them, and where to get them fixed. This information should be current and relevant, and should be updated regularly. Visitors should feel that this company cares about them, wants to keep them informed, and isn't only interested in selling them widgets.
With this information, your site becomes a resource, and if your site becomes a resource, it will add integrity not only to the site, but also to the product.
One of the great ways of getting folks to keep coming back to your site, and interested in you or your products, service etc, is to have a Bulletin Board page which you can update regularly with 'breaking news', perhaps news of your latest offers, new Government Legislation affecting your industry, even office gossip can be endearing if handled carefully. If you create interest in your site, you will create interest in your business. There is an example of a bulletin board if you follow this link, then hit the button at the bottom to come back here.
When you decide which of all those pictures you want to set on the page, bear in mind that surfers easily get bored, and if the download waiting time for that prize kitty or magnificent view of the local gasworks takes too long to come up on the screen, they will go away. Restrict your download to about 40/50 kb maximum of file size, at least for the front page. There are ways to reduce picture file size. In principal you should be saving photograph shots as jpg files, and other graphics as gif files. If the gif files are fairly simple, restrict the number of colours to 16 as this again will save file size. Get hold of a JGEP Optimiser programme if you can, and this will reduce your jpg files to a size more manageable without too much loss of detail.
Keep navigation simple. It is best not to let anyone wander more than two pages down a route, and there should always be an index at the top or bottom of the page such as 'Previous Page', or 'Home Page', to let them get back. It is not good practice to allow links across branches - that is the route to lose folks, and once lost, they hit the search button and they are gone.
There are some strange people out there who will be so interested in your page that they may want to print it out. Fine - so long as at the bottom of each page, your put it's URL address, and your site name and address so that when they want to look you up again, they know where to find you without having to conduct another search.
You should have a page counter on your site - preferably on the front page, either visible or invisible and there is more about that elsewhere on these pages. The little black laughing figure at the bottom of the 'Hints Index' page is an example of a hidden counter, but you can apply any gif file you like, such as the little red button shown below in the 'Counters' section or make one of your own.
There should be a 'Contacts' section somewhere visible on or indexed from your front page, so that folks can get in touch with you, you never know, they might want to buy something if your's is a commercial site, - name, address, and phone number for those who won't commit themselves to the technology, and an e-mail address and/or better, a Message Form for dirct contact - the most reliable and quickest way to get responses. More on Message Forms elsewhere on these pages. I am a believer of having a link at the bottom of each page to the 'Contacts' section, to save losing folks while they are searching your site in an endeavour to find it again, and if they missed spotting it on the front page index, they may have forgotten that the facility is there. Make life as easy as possible for folks.
Next we need to apply common sense to the design function, and maybe we shall have a lot of happy viewers because they have got what they came for.
Here are four counters that you can put on your web page provided that you have a cgi-bin directory, and this is normally available on commercial web sites as apposed to dial-up accounts. The first two visible counters are both the same script and 16x21 pixel images, but I have reversed the colour output of the images that come with them. The third number is text format with css providing the blue background. The little red index button below, is an example of a hidden counter which you can put anywhere on your page and use in a situation such as an index bullet. Each time that you refresh the page, you will see the count increment by one.
To get these scripts - E-Mail:
Last updated: April 10th, 2011