After deciding what kind of internet business you want to do, it's time to start planning the design and content of your business. Many people make the mistake of skipping this step, choosing instead to immediately start work on their website. However, a website is just a door into your internet business; and a door is pretty useless if there's nothing beyond it. An internet business, like any other business, requires proper planning and design if it's going to succeed.
a) Domain Name
A big part of your internet business is your domain name. A domain name is like the company name, or brand, of your business. This is the first thing a person will notice, whether they are typing your domain name into their browser, or clicking a link in the search engines.
It is advisable to choose a domain name that is short and memorable. A key part of branding is to make your name striking enough so that people will remember it long after they've visited your website. However, do make sure that the domain name is at least somehow related to the nature of your business.
b) Website Design
The next step will be to plan the design and the look and feel of your website. You will need to decide how you want your website to look like, and where to put your menu, header, footer, ads and your main text. When designing your menu and website navigation, do make it simple and intuitive. A simple navigation system will let people browse through your site without getting lost. For good examples, check out the major websites out there such as CNN and Amazon.
When allocating spaces for advertisements, don't go overboard! People do not like visiting websites that are full of ads and popups. Be more conservative and discreet in your ad placement.
One good method is to draw the design of your website onto a piece of paper with color pencils or markers. This way, you can adjust the look and feel and correct any mistakes easily without having to go through programming changes on the computer. If you are having trouble with the design, you can take a look at various website templates. A good source of templates can be found at www.templatesbox.com. For more aesthetically-pleasing website designs (but with more complex programming required), you can find a lot of inspiration at www.csszengarden.com.
c) Website Layout and Structure
Next, you will need to determine how big your website will be. Online stores will be huge by default, since they will need at least one page per product being offered. In any case, think about what sections you want to have on your website, and how many pages per section. Try to structure the site so that visitors will not get lost or intimidated by it.
For websites larger than 10 pages, it is useful to have breadcrumbs, like the one near the top of this page (eg. HOME > SECTION > PAGE). This tells the visitor exactly where they are, and how to get back to where they were previously.
Also useful are search bars and sitemaps. Search bars, like the one on the top left of this page, allow users to quickly search for whatever they are looking for. You can get a free search bar at Digital Point. A sitemap is also important for users as well as search engine robots to find the pages on your site. A good sitemap to follow is Apple's Sitemap. It is straightforward and contains all the information you require.
When a typical user surfs the internet, they are generally looking for information. So to make your site useful and attract visitors, you will need to fill it with good content and information.
If you are not sure what type of content to fill your website with, explore your competitors’ websites, and try to get a feel of what type content works and what doesn't. Pretend to be a potential customer, and see what parts of your competitors’ websites appeal to you, then base your own website on similar themes.
However, do not copy content from other websites: that's called plagiarism. Try to fill your website with unique content based on your own knowledge and experience. Visitors will find that you are an expert in the subject and feel more trusting and inclined to buy from you.
e) Keyphrase Optimization
This step of the process is targeted to bring more visitors to your website via search engines. When users search the web for information, they will most likely do so at one of the many search engines around, such as Google, MSN, or Yahoo. When searching, they will enter certain keywords or keyphrases into the search engines to find what they are looking for.
One of the methods to getting your website more visible in the search engines is to optimize it for the keyphrases that visitors usually search for. Wordtracker is a very useful tool to learn which are the more popular keyphrases in your industry, and which ones have very little competition from other similar websites.
Once you know which keyphrases are good for your website, you can then optimize the website. With your content ready and separated into the relevant pages and sections on your website, it is recommended that you optimize each page for one or two relevant keyphrases. You can do so by repeating the keyphrases throughout the page (but don't overdo it!). The “sweet spot" of how many repetitions is required, is still being discussed and analyzed by various experts; and an exact number or percentage is not known.
By optimizing each page for different keyphrases, you are “covering all your bases" to attract visitors who might use different phrases to reach you website. If you need further help on keyphrase optimization, you can check out SEOResearchLabs.
When you've finished planning the layout and design of your website, and prepared optimized content, you can proceed to the third step, actually setting up your website and putting your internet business on the web.
Steven is the webmaster of http://www.onlinebiz-help.com His website contains various resources on affiliate programs and internet marketing advice to help you succeed in your internet business, including a Step-By-Step Guide to get you started.