Web Development and the Site Review

Every online business owner wants to ensure that his or her web development objectives are on target. Web development includes Search engine optimization and appropriate use of keywords.

One of the ways many individuals are helping develop their website is by utilizing reputable site review sites. Interestingly there is even a site review that reviews other site review sites.

Let me seek to demystify what I am talking about. When you have worked to put all the finishing touches on the first draft of your website you may want to submit your site information to a site review service. This is typically a fee-based service where either peers or techies review the site using a laundry list of criteria. What they are looking for are problem areas that can be fixed before your site goes live. They let you know how your site could improve navigational concerns and what text errors could be fixed.

There is another type of review site that you should know about. These sites review products and or websites for the public to view. This may or may not help you. What you are looking for are services that can assist you in the final stages of web development not those that give you a grade and then pass that along to the public.

Once your site is as on target as you want it to be THEN you can begin sending your URL to the site review locations that provide public opinion on your site if you decide you want to. This can be a good or bad thing simply because you never know how a single person will review a site.

I think it makes better sense to gain independent feedback prior to site launch and then work steadily on improving Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies. Unless there is significant positive buzz about your site you might avoid submitting to a public site review scenario. Yes, negative publicity is still publicity, but the roll of SEO will have a greater impact than by hoping for the best now with a public site review.

The reason publishers use editors is because no matter how talented an author may be there are likely to be mistakes that will be missed. The editor works to eliminate mistakes. This is the role of the private site reviewer in web development.

Web development takes into account the branding of the business and/or product and it seeks to ensure there is ample room for growth. This process is a positive in the context of ensuring your site is as error free as possible before you launch. You can have a friend or family member look over your website and give their opinions. This can be a positive experience, but by using a private site reviewer you have the potential of a more objective opinion of the work.

The reason publishers use editors is because no matter how talented an author may be there are likely to be mistakes that will be missed. The editor works to eliminate them. This is the job of the private site reviewer in web development. Put your site together and then get some help smoothing out the wrinkles because if you don’t your potential customers will be the ones to notice and they won’t find it amusing.

3 Common Website Design and Web Development Mistakes That Can Cost You Business and Profits

If your website could produce thousands of dollars in sales for you every month, what would it be worth to you? We all know about the explosive growth of the Internet, how it is responsible for billions of dollars in revenue and how it has changed the way that people do business. Even senior citizens are getting online to search for information as well as products and services. But most businesses are not getting on board in an effective way.

I’ve been in the web development and marketing business for about ten years and in that time, I’ve witnessed enormous changes – things like pay-per-click advertising, relevant search marketing, online banking, elearning systems, directories, eCommerce and multimedia, to name a few. It is now possible to do business all over the world right from your home because of the Internet. There are days when I sit in my nightgown and have an online meeting with someone in India or Russia. Each of us shares relevant files in our computer that allow us to do business together. I believe we have just begun to experience the Internet’s powerful growth.

What I have noticed is that most people don’t know how to make money with their websites. Even business people who can benefit the most from their website, may trust a high school or college kid with no knowledge of web design or Internet marketing, to build their most important and powerful marketing tool. Even if they choose a web development company and pay big bucks, it is no guarantee that their site will get results. The only way to assure that a website produces a significant return on investment is to treat it as the core marketing product – the central part of a marketing system that can automate and leverage sales.

I would like to share with you 3 of the biggest mistakes that businesses make with their websites and other marketing products: 1. Mistake #1: Ineffective copy

A website should have a clear message that gets and keeps the visitors attention. It has to readily answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” A common mistake is to put massive amounts of copy on a page without any headlines, sub-headlines or clear organization in the message. The copy goes on and on, making it hard to figure out what the site is about, let alone what the visitor should do with the information. How long do you think that visitor will stick around? Not long I can assure you. They’re gone pronto, never to return again. The copy should compel the visitor to want to learn more. The visitor should instantly feel that the subject relates to them, clearly defines their problem and offers the best solution. The copy should share something about the company. People want to know and trust who they are doing business with. They don’t care what you say until they know who you are. The copy should include an emotional component – people make decisions because of their emotions. The copy should include stories or examples as well as facts. What will be remembered are the stories with an emotional charge. Testimonials are one of the most effective methods of sharing a story with an emotional component. John Smith testimonial for instance, might talk about how his life was in the toilet before he discovered product X. He started using this amazing product and within 3 months, he was on top of the world – it was the answer to all of his prayers and so on. That’s what will get people hooked on your copy. Your copy should set you apart from your competition. You don’t want to blast the reputation of others but use this opportunity to visually show how you are different. One of the best ways to do this is to display a chart with 3 columns. On the left is a list of all your services. Across the top is a column for ‘other companies’ [your competition], and next to that column is your company. You would show a check mark in your column for each item listed on the left that you offer. (All the items should be checked or you shouldn’t include them in the list). Your competitor’s column would show some checks but also some areas unchecked and some with question marks. This visually allows the visitor to see that you are their best choice.

Use keywords in your copy that will allow your target market to find you through search engines, blogs, article submissions and e-zine publications. Use software that will help you to choose keywords that are being searched in significant numbers. Google and Yahoo also have free tools for keyword selection.

2. Mistake #2: Failure to Include an Opt-In Email Subscription Form. If you’re not using your website for lead generation via an opt-in email form, you’re losing a huge opportunity. These are some important points that relate to building your mailing list:

  • Building a list of people who have come to you site allows you to stay in touch with those people, build a relationship, establish yourself as an expert and solve their problems. This is critical to the success of your business – something that most people miss.
  • Put your form as close to the top right as possible. This has been shown through research to be the best location.
  • Never use a weak message like ‘join my newsletter’. Why would I do that? Give me a reason to subscribe and give me a bonus for doing it – a free gift that I can get instantly as soon as I join. The bonus could be a free report, audio of your teleclass or a coupon discount for a product you wish to sell.

3. Mistake #3: Unprofessional Website Design Does your website look like it was created by a professional or does it look like you did it yourself. An unprofessional design can give a message to your audience that says, “your website isn’t professional and that probably is a sign that your services aren’t professional either.” Here are some tips that will help you to have an effective website design:

  • The content should be formatted so that it is easy to read and organized into important sections. Remember those headlines and sub-headlines.
  • The navigation should clearly specify the content areas and should be consistent on every page. You should not have to hit the back button to find a page or move around. There is nothing more frustrating than getting lost on a website because of the navigation.
  • Make sure the links all work.
  • Make a template from your design that is applied to all the pages. Use your template and include files to make changes to one file that automatically modifies all the appropriate pages.
  • Use colors that appeal to your target market. This is a subject for another article. I will just mention here that some colors are offensive to certain cultures. Colors like blue have universal appeal, especially for sites directed to a corporate market.
  • Use font sizes and styles that are easy to read and pleasing to the eye. Avoid scripted fonts except in graphics where they are used minimally. Use universal fonts that everyone has loaded on their computer. If you don’t, the font you choose will be substituted on a computer that doesn’t have that font. I personally like Verdana and Arial the best for the web because they are clean and easy to read.
  • Use plenty of cell padding around text and images. Avoid cramming things together and putting them close to the margins.
  • Make sure that the design takes your eye to important areas of the website. Can you easily identify important content or is your eye going all over the place?
  • Whether your web site design is a fixed size or a percentage of the screen, be aware that more people now have bigger monitors with higher screen resolutions. The design that looks great on your monitor make look like an eyesore on other monitors. Designs should be tested across browsers and in different screen resolutions.
  • Test everything on your website. Check every page and every link. Look for any design issues. Correct all spelling and grammatical errors. Complete contact and email subscription forms to make sure they work. Don’t assume your webmaster has done this. It is also a good idea to check that forms work periodically as problems can mysteriously arise, particularly if there are changes on the server. If you are getting a steady stream of inquiries and sign-ups, you will know that things are working just great.

These important tips will help you to design a more effective website – one that is the core piece of your marketing system. I want to caution you that the old expression, “You get what you pay for,” is not always true when it comes to website development. You may pay a high price only to find yourself with a weak and ineffective website that has to be redesigned. Make sure the professionals you choose have an in depth knowledge of Internet marketing and exceptional copy writing, website design and development skills. Make certain that they know how to use the web effectively for creating a marketing system. This system is what will give you the opportunity to profit enormously. It will change your business and most likely change your life.

Outsource Your Website Design and Web Development Needs (Safely)

If you’re like most business owners you know that you need to have an internet presence in order to reach a more expansive audience. The problem is that you probably don’t have an unlimited budget with which to build your internet presence through avenues such as having a custom website designed, hiring a search engine marketing / optimization (SEM / SEO) expert, and paying for pay per click (PPC), blogging, article posting or banner ad marketing.

Well, the good news is that needing more services than one can afford in the general market is a very common issue. And like most common challenges in the business world, there are at least a few ways to get around this problem.

First, before you even begin searching for a web development or marketing firm you need to take the time to think through your precise needs. When looking to promote your business, information or services online some crucial questions you must ask yourself are:

1) What exactly will the main purpose of my website be (deliver information, increase local on-site sales, generate internet based sales, sell advertising, save money by enhancing the efficiency of your current site).
2) What size budget are you working with? Later in the article we will suggest a range of reputable providers who’s services range from very inexpensive to relatively costly. We’ll also note some of the differences in quality you can expect based on what you pay.
3) Have you thought through your service needs well enough to explain them to a competent designer or developer? Clearly understanding what you are looking will significantly increase the odds that you actually receive it. If you want a website developed, take the time to actually find similar sample sites you can send your web team to so they have an idea of what you want.

Because this holds true for just about any graphic design or website development services an employer (you) would need, most professional website design firms should actually provide you with a questionnaire or “creative brief” that will help you think through and then clearly state what you are looking for. Such briefs should ask you about your company, other designs you like, color schemes you prefer etc.

Secondly, now that you’ve thought through the services you require, it’s time to start looking for a suitable provider.

The good news is that there are literally thousands upon thousands of website design, graphic design, search engine marketing and SEO companies out there for you to choose from. Oh wait, maybe that’s the bad new… With so many providers in the market you might need some help finding the best web service provider for you.

Here are a few suggestions that will help you identify a company to start your design project with:

1) Check out Craigslist.org. Craigslist is the most active internet based classified ads website in existence. Because this site is free to use, and it receives literally billions of page views each month, a good number of national and local service provider advertise their services on it. Website design, graphic design and web development service providers can generally be found in the “Creative Services” or “Computer Services” sections on Craigslist.
2) Run a search for “XYZ directory” and you find websites that maintain extensive lists of whatever service providers you require. Note: replace the “XYZ” with the type of service you need. For example, you might search for “Website Designer Directory.”
3) If you’re not in the mood to do the research for yourself here are some reputable, and national, web development providers:

Logoworks.com : This firm is a well respected website and logo design firm. Their prices are on the high side but if you’re not too budget conscious you’ll find that they produce quality work. I’d probably go with them for medium scale jobs in the range of $5,000 to $10,000.

InkBlotDesignStudios.com : Ink Blot Design Studios is a national web development company that established itself by providing premium quality website and logo designs at wholesale prices. If you’re budget is between $39 and $5,000 then they are a great choice.

Volusion.com : These guys are for the big boys. Their logo designs alone cost around $600 (vs. $39 Logos from Ink Blot Design Studios and $299 Logos from Logoworks) and their template based websites can cost $3,000 (vs. $400 from other companies). However, if you are looking for prestige (a perfectly reasonable desire) and you’re willing to pay for it then this might be a no-brainer.

Of course, there are other options for outsourcing your design projects (guru.com, odesk.com etc) but we didn’t include a review of them here because of the frequency of complaints they receive from past clients who tried to hire really cheap workers from overseas and ended up getting burned out of their money. That’s not to say that you can’t find great service providers on sites like those; you can. You’ll just have to be extra cautious so that you don’t end up losing your money and/or being disappointed with the product you receive.

Final note, I didn’t talk specifically about SEO services much in this articles because you can find those same services from via the means suggested for finding website developers and logo designers. You can also check with the companies I mentioned above because some of them provide SEO and SEM services as well.

Good luck with your new website and/or graphic designs!