I start with the idea that you'd like your site to get meaningful results. So how do we get there?
The following article explains my approach to successful site design. Its based on proven advice that you can find scattered around the web. These are the important and necessary basics to creating a site that will serve your goals in a positive way.
» the rules:
- First define your sites purpose and develop a marketing strategy. Know who you want your web site to attract before you design. This step dictates how the site will be laid out and presented to potential clients. This step also defines how to make the site attractive to the search engines. All to often this rule isn't defined and the ship sails: rudderless.
- Provide useful content that's relevant to the searcher for the search terms you are trying to target. Content is king: to be strong, you'll need to provide more than your competition.
- Design a user-friendly site. Lay out the site in a way that users are already habituated to. Put the navigation where they expect to find it. Keep it simple and clean. Keep the sub pages consistent. People scan sites for information instead of reading line by line, so make the main subject matter easy to identify. Don't confuse your audience, instead make their visit easy and rewarding.
- Find a design for your site that looks appropriate to the product you're marketing. A recent study discovered that people make up their mind about a site in just eight tenths of a second. The right design creates a good first and lasting impression. With all the choices in templates these days, you should be able to find a design you like for around $50.
- Make it load fast. Although most people have broadband access, poorly optimized images can still slow down a site.There's no reason why your main home page should take longer than 10 seconds to completely load on the average connection.. Remember that 'back button' is always there, and after 20 seconds, people start to use it- great for your competition. Study after study confirms this simple fact: People want information from the Internet that's easy to find, and they want it fast!
These design practices will give you the best chance for success on the web. They are sound and simple principles, however, they can be difficult to implement depending on your goals and where your product fits into the greater World Wide Web market.
With the application of these design practices you can expect increased traffic. While having traffic is vital to success, that doesn't mean you'll won't be able to sell snow cones to Eskimos. If you have a real product with a good market the reward can be impressive.A minimum of 40% of my wife's business in real-estate came through web-generated leads. The application of these rules brought her company's site a 6700% (thousand) increase in traffic over a five-year period.
These design principals are time proven and work. You shouldn't skip any of them if you want results. If you own a business, you should expect your site to become your most cost effective form of advertising. Site maintenance is cheaper than most forms of advertising, and although your initial set-up may seem expensive, if done right, it will garner excellent returns. More people already collect the bulk of their purchase information, not by TV or newspaper, but by.. you guessed it- the Internet.
These practices are well established. You can find article after article expressing the same principals. They're just the basics and you could certainlly do more. Depending on your goals and expectations they could also be ignored all together. An example of this would be an artist who just wants an online portfolio. My feeling is that even if all you want is a simple web presence, taking a few steps to gain a greater audience is worth the effort. If your trying to make sales, then by all means, analyze the market and optimize your site to rank well for your product(s).
Even the best design work will be all for not unless you give the search engines what they're looking for.
Having a web site, and making it productive, depends on getting your pages to rank well with the major search engines. There are many search engines, but for the most part, you only need to concern yourself with the big three (Goggle, Bing and Yahoo). They cover about 80% of the search market.
Search engines like Goggle (60% of all web searches) have recently become particularly picky about what makes a site worthy of a high ranking. Most new sites are now believed to be "sand-boxed" off the first few pages until they have real content and have been around longer than a year. There are also all kinds of rules to follow so you don't get de-ranked or wores, de-listed. To make matters worse, the rules change and differ from one search engine to the next. To get and keep a top slot requires that you analyze the competition and exploit their weaknesses. It also requires interlinking or cross-linking with other sites, but even the impact and method of this practice has changed recently.
Ranking is a cryptic endeavor, part art, part science. It takes study and analysis to pin it down. It requires patience and regular analysis to reach and keep a top position. There are tools that make this easier, and rest assured, I use them, but there's still no good tool for old-fashioned detective work and human analysis.
This is certain: People choose in the top five search results most of the time and only about ten percent bother to click to the second page. Therefore, if your page is located on the third page for your target keywords, some say you don't even exist. Without high search listings, no matter how good your product or site is, you won't generate the visits that translate into sales.
My goal is to build sites that look sharp, load fast, are simple to navigate, validate, are friendly to people with disabilities and most importantly, bring targeted visitors to you.
If you want to profit from the web, then a holistic design approach is, in my opinion, your only option.
How much will it cost to build a web site? Unfortunately there is no "one" formula that can cover all the variables listed above. I know not everyone has the budget to do everything, and as you would expect, a large polished site with good graphic design and search optimization will cost several times more than a simple web presence.
Because each job has its own unique challenges I find it more appropriate to charge a flat fee of $40.00/ hour. I can and do provide bids, but it takes time, and you know what they say about that.
Optimization for search terms and general marketing is a cost that's hard to justify initially because the results are often not seen for some time. On new sites I prefer to work out a compensation plan based on achieved, pre-defined goals so nobody feels shorted. This unique offer sets up a negotiated contractual relationship that is extended only to qualified clients with realistic goals. I don't think you'll find anything like it on the web. Otherwise, optimization services are available at the rate of $50/hour.
-Jeff Baird • 541-426-9017 • 63872 Pine Tree Rd • Enterprise, OR • 97828