Web site design is a critical element in niche marketing.
If you want to build your reputation as a Professional in your niche, you need to project a professional image from the moment your visitors reach your web site. Like it or not, first impressions count and no more so than on the Internet. Your web site is the only way that visitors can judge you and your product. Give them the wrong impression, make it hard for them to find the information they're after and chances are they will click away into cyberspace and never come back.
To avoid this happening to you, here are ten web design tips to help ensure that your niche web site projects a professional image :
1 - Use the KISS approach - Keep your web design simple and straight forward with clean lines and a suitable colour scheme. Avoid distractions like Flash presentations, animated gifs and audio which loads as the page opens.
2 - Visibility - Design for a screen resolution of 800x600 pixels and a maximum page width of 760 pixels so that your web site visitors don't have to scroll from side to side to read your content.
3 - Graphics - Keep your graphics down to one or two smallish ones and optimise them to load quickly (You can optimise your graphics at www.netmechanic.com who offer a free facility to do this). Always add “alt" tags to each image, with a concise description, so that people who surf with graphics turned off and the sight impaired, who use text readers, know exactly what the image is.
4 - Load time - Aim to have your pages load in 8-10 seconds on a 56K modem. You can do this by keeping your page size down to about 10k or less.
5 - Use CSS - CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS enables you to define the look of your web site with various style elements like font type, size and colour, backgrounds, Hyperlinks and a lot more. By linking your HTML pages to a Cascading Style Sheet you can reduce the amount of code on your web pages and speed up load times.
6 - Navigation - Make sure your main navigation links appear in the same place on every page so that your visitors don't have to hunt around for them. Your visitors should also be able to see at a glance exactly where they are on your web site, so include “You are here" links at the top and bottom of each page showing the path from your Home page, for example :
"You are here >> Home > Widgets > Redwidgets"
In this case Home and Widgets would be linked back to the relevant pages.
7 - Site Map - Include a Site Map on your web site listing the title of each page with a short description and a link back to the relevant page. Not only will this enable your site visitors to find their way around, it will also help to encourage search engines to spider your entire site.
8 - Readability - Avoid dark backgrounds and fancy font styles, if you have a lot of stuff to read on your web pages it is better to stick to a white background with black print as that is less fatiguing to read. Arial, Verdana and Times Roman are the most common fonts to use and the easiest to read. Oh and one other thing - not everyone has 20/20 vision, make your font sizes big enough for those people to read comfortably.
9 - Test - Test your design in as many browsers as possible. Although Internet Explorer is still the dominant browser, don't ignore alternatives like FireFox, Mozilla, Opera, K-Meleon, Netscape, Safari, etc. they may only constitute 15%-20% of browsers, but that's still millions of potential customers you might otherwise miss out on.
10 - Relevance - Don't cover more than one major topic per page, this will help you get your message over more easily. Make sure that everything you are going to include on your web site is relevant to the niche market you are targeting. For example if your site is about golf, don't include links to a dog training site (unless it's about training dogs to find lost golf balls:-).
Copyright © 2005, André Anthony Niche Market Know-How
André Anthony has been running his own businesses on and off the Internet since 1983. He owns and operates Niche Market Know-How a resource for beginning Niche Marketers. Visit http://www.nichemarketknowhow.com today to find strategies, tips, tools, products and resources for effective niche marketing. Get his free Niche Market Know-How Course here: http://www.nichemarketknowhow.com/course.htm