The Promise and Pitfalls of Commercial Websites

Gene DeFazzio
 


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For a small businesses, creating a commercial website can be a daunting task. Not only must you have a product that people want, you will need to design and build a professional looking website that lends itself to internet marketing. Also, a commercial website must be search engine friendly, it should load quickly and provide a clear picture of what you are selling.

Success on the internet depends upon several factors all of which require that you expend the necessary time and effort to make it happen. The following outline covers the main points that must be observed when designing and producing a commercial website.

Appearance

Your website should have the look of success. Gaudy colors and poor organization will damage the perception of your website and your product. Poorly designed websites reflect, not always fairly, an image or impression that you are insincere and not to be trusted. You've seen the type of sites I am talking about. They look more like a handbill or flyer than a reputable web company. They are usually fly by night operators who would gladly deceive you into parting with your hard earned money.

You must avoid this appearance at all costs. The time and effort you spend on designing your website will be obvious to your visitors and will result in sales. If you feel this is too difficult a task then find someone to design your website for you but, don't take shortcuts when it comes to the appearance of your website. The first impression that a visitor gets when coming to your website should be a good one.

Navigation

The next important point in the design of a commercial website is how easily your visitors can move about your site. Poor navigation will make it difficult for people to find what they are looking for and they will leave. They have questions and if they can't find answers to those questions you will lose a sale.

A good navigation scheme doesn't have to be fancy. It can be as simple as a column of links running down the side of your webpages or a line of links running across the top and/or bottom of the pages. Try to tie all of your webpages together in this fashion and your navigation scheme will not fail.

Content

Quality content not only sells products but it also insures good placement on the search engines. Make your content keyword rich and interesting. Talk about your product with passion and show your visitors that you believe in what you are selling. Mention your product often and in as many different ways that you can. This makes it easy for your visitors to decide if they want to buy what you are selling and gives the search engines something to work with when they index your website.

Ask yourself the following questions. Does your copy convey the message you wish to get across to your visitors? Is it compelling? Does it lead your visitor through the sales process? Does it clearly project the ideas that you wish to promote? In order for your website to be successful it must capture your visitors interest and the interest of the search engines.

Optimization

Search engine optimization is crucial to your traffic flow. Having your website listed on the first page of a search engines results will give you maximum exposure. And, the closer you are to the top of the page the greater the number of visitors you will receive and potential buyers that you will reach. Thus, you should optimize your website to rank somewhere in the top ten results. This is not easy. To do this will require long hours of hard work but, it can be done.

First focus on your keywords and keyword density but don't sacrifice your message. Write your content like you were writing to a friend. Let your creativity take over and write from your heart. Focus on what you want to say and don't worry about optimizing your web page content until you are completely satisfied with your message.

Once you have nailed down your content then utilize the meta tags keywords, description and title. Use your keywords when naming your pages and also for paragraph headings. Sprinkle your keywords throughout your text but avoid sounding clumsy. Work them in logically and don't over do it. Not all search engines operate exactly the same. But, if you follow these simple suggestions you will do just fine on most of them.

Clarity and Style

The message that you are trying to convey to your audience must be clear and as simple as possible. Avoid using complicated paragraphs and long sentences. This will enable you to reach the most people and enhance the possibility of a sale. Reading on the internet is not as easy as reading a book or newsprint. Keep this in mind when laying out your webpages.

The primary purpose of any commercial website is communicating ideas and emotions that lead the visitor toward a specific goal or action. Your website will be appraised, by your visitor, on its ability to present your ideas concisely, clearly and effectively.

About us

You will find an “about us" page on every successful commercial website, both large and small. Your visitors want to know who they're doing business with, and this is your chance to tell them. Information you might include:

Who you are

The history of your company

A company profile

A mission statement

Contact

Many commercial sites don't provide adequate contact information, or they forget it completely! You should include as many different ways for visitors/customers to contact you as you possibly can. This includes:

telephone and fax numbers

email addresses

email forms

street address

Summary

It is not as easy to get rich on the internet as it once was but it is still possible. Like anything worth having it will demand much of your time, effort and a lot of determination in order to succeed. But, don't let this deter you from your goal of making a successful commercial website.

Gene DeFazzio is the webmaster and author of the Rocketface(R) Workshop http://www.rocketface.com/ - A website for beginning webmasters and home of the award winning webmasters tutorial “How to Design a Website".

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