Tips & Tools

Build Trust

For any business trust must be established before customers feel comfortable to pay you money for the products and services you offer. Online we first judge a business by the look and design of their website. We look for aspects such as:

  • A clean, well designed and responsive website
  • Consistent branding identified throughout the site
  • Navigation that makes it easy to move around and find things

Often we get too close to a design or may unintentionally focus on a design that you like rather than one that suits your customers. It is a good idea to step back and get some independent feedback on the design of your site. Focus on trust and credibility by asking if the user would do business with you based on the site design.

Remember, the website is for your customers, not you! This is why you have a website.

A Face to Your Business

Online, the website is the face of your business and the more that potential customers feel they know you. For most businesses an 'About Us' page can be of great benefit as it provides information about your business including history, strengths, testimonials and information on the people in the business. This also adds a personal aspect and builds trust.

Contact details should also be provided and include email, phone and postal information. If your business has a shop front then also a map of your location, opening hours and any other relevant information.

Clean and Functional

There are not too many people that I know that like to wade through lots of information when browsing the web. We want to find things quickly and easily. Everything about a website should be clean and functional. Text should be concise, graphics tasteful but not over done and pages well titled with relevant content.

Don't give people surprises; when a person clicks on a link they need to know what it is. If you have documents for download then let people know the format and file size.

Clear Navigation

What a pleasure it is to find a website where it is easy to find what you are looking for. Navigation can effectively make or break your site. Make sure the pages are named appropriately for the content they contain and that the menu navigation is simple and logical. Ensure that each page has exactly the same navigation menu.

It is always a good idea to repeat the main menu items at the bottom of the page in text links. Search engines follow text links where some menu techniques are invisible to search engines. This can affect page indexing.

Always have a site map; good for your visitors as well it ensures search engines index every page of your website.

Fast Loading

Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for that complex graphic to build, and then when you get there you find you have to do another mouse click to get to the "real content".

Not everyone has a fast computer or a fast internet connection. In remote areas it can be much worse.

Don't use excessive or unnecessary graphics. Make sure every image is optimised to the smallest possible file size that still looks good. Challenge everything you have on a page; if it is not necessary, get rid of it.

Remember, if your pages are taking too long to open you will be loosing potential customers. People browsing will loose interest and go elsewhere.

Things to Avoid

Be very careful if you are going to use Flash graphics. If they contain content it will become invisible to search engines and could effect your search engine ranking. If you can, don't use it. If you must, then make sure it is contained within a HTML page that has good content for search engines in itself.

Don't use Frames Pages. A Frames Pages has several HTML pages contained within one. As good as search engines are they find these difficult to index and relate to each other. Search results may well be brought up in isolation with only a section of the page being found. You might find some content but not know what website it belongs to.

Domain Names and Email Addresses

If you are an Australian business targeting the Australian market then a domain name ending in .com.au signifies you are an Australian commercial entity. For an International market a .com may be appropriate although these are used by US companies as well as international ones.

Ensure your email address uses your domain name. If your domain name is mycompany.com.au then your email address should be myname@mycompany.com.au. I have seen too often people use their ISP provider as their email address: mycompany@bigpond.com.

It is much more professional to use your own and promote your own business rather than promoting the Internet Service Provider. Also when you change your ISP there is no need to change your email address.

Professional Photography

Poor graphics and photos on a website can certainly affect the image that you are trying to portray. Your products and services is what your business is certainly all about. Make sure if it is appropriate people can click to see a larger image.

If you are unable to take professional looking photos yourself, it is highly recommended to invest in a professional photographer.

Call to Action

You need to guide people through your website and encourage them to take a desired action. Initially people visit a website to get free information so think about your call to action as a multilevel experience. It is only when trust is established that people will part with their cash. Some examples of calls to action include:

  • Contact Us
  • Subscribe
  • Download
  • Order Now
  • Add to Cart
  • Checkout
  • Pay Now

The Right Keywords

Do some research on your business and the keywords relevant to the products and services that you provide. Sometimes what you think is relevant is not always what people are typing into their search engine. There are good free tools on the internet that can assist with this.

Optimise each page individually for the content that it contains. Include the relevant keywords in:

  • Page Titles
  • Keyword Meta Tags
  • Description Meta Tags
  • Headings
  • Image alt tags
  • Links
  • Page Content

Protection from the Spammers

Spam is a problem and prevention is always better the cure. Spammers target websites looking for unprotected email addresses and web forms that can be accessed. More than 99% of this is done automatically by their website crawlers.

There are solutions though where you can still have your email addresses displayed on the page. Encryption techniques need to be utilised in the coding. I see many website every day where this is not done.

Don't let your website be the cause of spammers getting your email address. Your email address may show on the page but should not appear in the coding.

Try this:

  • Right mouse click on the web page and select "View Source"
  • Hit "Ctrl+F" and search for the @ symbol (unique to email addresses)
  • If you find your email address in the code ask your webmaster to encrypt it
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