Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Free Web Marketing

by Sharon Housley

Not all web marketing needs to cost money. Aside from website submissions, there are a number of things that web marketers can do that are free, though they may be rather time-consuming. Other marketing tactics are relatively inexpensive, and are often well worth the investment.

Follow these basic steps to market your website and business.

1. Sign It

Include your website URL as part of your "signature" in any online forum and newsgroup posts. It is not uncommon for someone who appreciates the comments to click through to the websites found in the signatures of forum posts. This will not only increase link popularity, but will help establish your industry knowledge. It goes without saying that URLs should also be included in email signatures.

2. Utilize Social Bookmarking

There are a number of social bookmarking websites, where the collective users select the materials that they determine to be popular. If you have created resources that are worthy, be sure to bookmark them in the social bookmarking networks. List of

Social Bookmarking Websites - http://www.feedforall.com/social-bookmarking-icons.htm

3. Niche Networking

Network with key players in niche markets. Schmoozing with authorities in niche markets can often pay big dividends. Learn the "Who's Who" in any given niche market.

4. Donations

Goodwill goes a long way. Donate a percentage of sales to a non-profit organization or charity. If revenue is an issue, consider donating products or services to fund-raising auctions or other fund-raising efforts. Donations will often reach an audience outside the parameters of your normal market, and will show that you care... and aside from all that, your donations will actually benefit the organization or charity.

5. Answers / Askville

Use Yahoo Answers and Amazon's Askville to answer questions. The more answers that are endorsed, the more your advice will be valued. Provide genuine, honest answers and build your reputation. It appears that many "top" answers appear high in Yahoo search results, and Yahoo Answers captures a lot of long-tail traffic.

Yahoo Answers - http://answers.yahoo.com Amazon Askville - http://www.askville.com

6. SEO

Spend the time it takes to properly optimize your website for the search engines. This is not an area to cut corners or skimp on. Proper search engine optimization, while an ongoing process and very time-consuming, can pay big dividends and will often result in long-term search engine traffic.

7. Classifieds

There are a number of free classified listing services. Add your products or services to any free classified listings that might be relevant.

8. Recommend It

Add a "Recommend To A Friend" script to the product pages on your website. Nothing beats a referral from a friend. Leverage viral marketing by providing your website visitors with the tools to easily spread the word for you.

9. Blog / RSS / Podcasting

Generate your own publicity using a blog, RSS feed, podcast, or video cast. Use these alternate communication channels to expand your audience. 10. Related Content Site Develop a content website that contains related information and materials. Content sites are often defined as "authority" websites. Authority websites are often quick to garner search engine favor and top ranking for relevant search terms.

10. Wiki

Update wiki listings with useful and helpful content. Good wiki editing will reinforce your reputation and help educate your audience.

11. Forum Participation

Actively participating in related forums will generate goodwill and increase your brand reputation. And be sure to add a company tagline and website link to the signature of your forum posts.

Marketing efforts need not break the bank for a fledgling company or struggling small business. Use the tools available, and build your business through smart marketing.

About the Author

About the Author: Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.


Deciphering Web Hosting for Video Sites

by Ajeet Khurana

Video sites have free web hosting, and this may not really pose as much of a problem as most people might think. There could be various reasons why one would want to host a video online. It could be for commercial marketing, or it could be for networking or just for pure entertainment. Whatever the reason may be, every good site is bound to be looking out for stable web hosting.

There is one important factor that one must remember while looking at web hosting for video sites. Remember that these sites will need special software to stream the videos. If this special streaming software is absent, the video files would be looked at, just as at any other web file by the web host. Having the right software in place will allow you to appreciate the quality of the video and view it in the best way.

If a video site is hosted without software, it will become necessary for the user to download the complete video file in order to view it. Otherwise, if there is any site, which is hosted with the right software, the video can be viewed directly online. This special streaming software will have to be installed on the web server.

There are many cheap options that are available when it comes to getting web hosting services for one's video sites. Shop around extensively before you narrow down your options. While you are shopping, make sure that you will be able to watch your videos online. Also, make it a point to look at players like real player. Real player is one of the most popular ones used when it comes to online viewing for videos. Many companies provide services with which you can view videos on the sites where they are being hosted.

All you need to do is look for compatibility between the player and the video that you want to watch. There are plenty of things that need to be thought about when it comes to choosing web hosting services for video sites. The web server that you are using will need to hold large sized files, as video files generally require a lot more space than other kinds of files.

While choosing web-hosting services for your video sites, you will first need to check to see that the service that you are looking at provides a lot of storage. Then you will have to check to ensure that the given bandwidth allows for a lot of transference. Without these two elements, a web server may be of no use. You can avail of good services for as little as five dollars. Many of these cheaper services provide plenty of storage space.

If your video uses flash, you will be requiring some extra software. This can be installed exclusively. In such a case, in order to view the videos, flash player will also be required. Sometimes free web hosting may also be available. But this is not a good idea as your site might keep getting bombarded by a large number of pop-up ads.

About the Author

In this visual world, get videos hosting in the form of regular web hosting or in the form of reseller hosting. Your choice.

Sell Your Art Online With Your Own Unique Website

by Ralph Serpe

If you are serious about selling your art online, then you should be serious about developing your own website. I am not referring to those free website builders your Internet Service Provider gives you or any other free website providers. I am talking about a professional website with your own unique domain name: www.yourname.com.

There are good reasons why you should never use a free design service. The company that provides the free service owns your website space and they can do whatever they wish with your site, namely advertise on it.

There is nothing more unprofessional than unrelated banner advertising and popup windows that are usually associated with free websites. Not only are they annoying, but they also distract visitors from your art.

There is also the risk that your website provider may go out of business. That free site you spent all that time promoting is gone and your efforts were in vain.

With your own unique domain name, the worst-case scenario is you have to change hosting accounts. Your domain name remains unchanged and your customers can still reach your site.

Having your own website with a unique domain name tells your potential customers that you are a professional and serious about your business. It also looks wonderful on business cards!

Can you imagine handing out business cards at art shows or to other interested people with this printed on your cards: http://www.some freewebsite.com/artists/yourgallery/index.html. This is unprofessional and it's difficult for your customers to remember.

Having your own unique website offers convenience for you and potential customers. For instance, lets say you are traveling to another state, or another part of the world for that matter. You meet someone who is interested in seeing your work, but you don't have your portfolio with you. You may have just lost a potential customer. If you have a nice business card, with your website address printed on it, the potential customer can simply visit your website at his or her convenience to view your work, and it doesn't matter if they live around the corner or on the other side of the world! Your website is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Now that you see the benefits of having your own website, you will need to take the first step, and that is to register your domain name (http:www.yourname.com).

Registering your own domain name is easy and extremely affordable today. My recommendation is to register through a site called Godaddy.com. They are amongst the lowest priced domain registration services online at around $9 for the entire year (this was the price at the time of writing this article).

Once you register your domain name, its time to begin your website design. You can either hire a web designer or do it yourself. Whichever method you choose here are some general guidelines:

My advice is to keep your site clean and simple. Do not load your site with lots of fancy graphics or long multimedia presentations. These only annoy and distract visitors away from your art and increase the amount of time it takes for pages to download.

Make your site navigation is easy to follow and consistent throughout your entire site.

Make it easy for your visitors to contact you. Put a "contact" or "contact us" link on every page in clear view.

Avoid animated graphics, moving text, or other animated features on your website.

Make all of the links on your site standard colors and underlined. Blue is for unvisited links, purple for visited.

Resources for do it yourself web design - There are many places online where you can learn HTML and web design completely free. One of my favorite sites is W3 Schools - http://www.w3schools.com/. W3 Schools is a wonderful site packed with lots of great information on HTML and web design. The tutorials are informative and very easy to follow.

If you are not the type who enjoys learning online, there are also a handful of great books you can purchase. "Learning Web Design" by Jennifer Niederst is a book that gives you a good all around introduction to web design. There are other great books. Just head over to a site like Amazon and a do a search for "beginner web design". Find books that have good feedback ratings from customers. Read through the feedback to make sure the book is the right fit for your experience level.

I hope this article has got you excited about getting your own website. I wish you the best of luck and God Bless!

About the Author

Ralph Serpe is Webmaster of www.sellingartnews.com. Sell Your Art News provides resources and information to help artist's start a successful career selling their art or crafts.

Tips To Achieve Professional-Looking Web Graphics

by Cecille Gamas

It is proven that inserting professional-looking and stylish web graphics do enhance the overall appearance of a website. A website is said to be more expressive and appealing if it's designed with web graphics. Since it is also part of SEO, web designers give great importance and exert much effort in designing innovative graphics because it is their initial strategy to make their website outshines and stands out among millions of websites present on the internet.

Quality web graphics becomes the first basis for most online visitors to judge whatever products or services the company offers. Web graphics can also raise their interest and curiosity to choose your site to view, instead of other online business competitors. For this reason, adding any image or picture on website may affect the company's brand image as well as its credibility, most especially if the company's services are dealing with web design and development. Online visitors may give a website a good or bad impression depending on the quality and creativity of the designs it has. So in order to create such well-designed and professional-looking web graphics, simple tips in designing web graphics must be followed.

1. Include only images that have great significance

Since images can slow down the loading time of a site, it's best that add only images that are really important to the site. Keep in mind that when adding images on the site, think first if these graphics will be helpful to increase site's effectiveness in promoting services or products. Don't mess up site with too many unnecessary web graphics as it may result to an amateur-looking website. As much as possible, place only 2-3 images on each page of a website to make it clean and nice-looking to see.

2. Pick out web graphics that are relevant to the site's theme.

Relevancy of web graphics are very essential in creating and designing website. Always make sure that any images that are placed on a site should be relevant and complement to the site's theme.

3. Choose the color of web graphics that suits the site's harmony.

Colors makes the site more eye-catching and visually-interesting if they are used properly and correctly. So, in selecting the colors of chosen images, make sure that they are compatible with the site's theme. Don't just use colors because they are your favorites, instead use standard colors that will match the subject matter. It is best that research will be done first in selecting colors to assure that they are appropriate with the theme.

4. Blend web graphics to the text.

In adding images to the site, it's advisable that they must have blending with the color and type of the text. Make sure that it is suited to the web graphics and it is readable so that the site will bring out its important messages to online visitors.

5. Be consistent in designing web graphics

Consistency in designing web graphics is also a key to achieve professional-looking website. Many web designers creates attractive web graphics but lacks of consistency. As a result, the visual appearance of the site becomes unprofessional because of inserting uncoordinated web graphics.

6. Keep web graphics as small as possible.

As I've mentioned earlier, web graphics affects the loading speed of a website. So to avoid this to happen, it's best to minimize the size of an image. Achieving this will guarantee that the site will have an effective and attractive designs that loads faster.

About the Author

This article is written by Cecille Gamas, who works as an article contributor in Wicked Innovations that offers professional web site design and development. Just check out their website and see why it stands out in Web Design and Development.

Why use contact forms?

by Ted Peterson

Individuals and businesses for an easy communication form use contact forms for their guests. This gives all visitors a way in which to communicate with your business or with you, regarding all kinds of things from questions about products to ordering your products and services. Many contact forms can also be used for gathering information for survey questions, polling visitors on various topics, or allowing visitors to join your newsletter.

When companies post their emails addresses on their websites it opens the door for spammers to send you all kinds of emails that you more than likely do not wish to receive, this can include advertisements, pornography, and other such material. If you run a business weeding through all the spam emails to find the ones you really need or wish to read can be a very time consuming chore. On the other hand, if you use a contact form, your email is hidden from the human eye. Of course, this does not mean that you will never receive spam, but with the newest technologies available with our contact forms you will not receive as much as some.

There are such things out there called email harvesters and bots that can either retrieve your email by visiting your website and seeing the posted address or by the way of bots that can retrieve email addresses even behind the scenes. There are even some bots that can write in the fields you have on your form to send you spam submissions. With our contact forms you will have an advantage as we have a hidden anti-spam form field that the human eye cannot see. The bot of course will see this field and fill it in. When this occurs, the submitted content will automatically be discarded as spam.

Using contact forms is a better way in which to protect not only your email address, but personal information that might be included on the contact form from your visitors. You will be protecting not only yourself and your business but all that wish to correspond with you through the contact form. Bots will not be able to retrieve any of the information supplied by yourself or by your visitors.

With contact forms on your website you will be able to give your visitors the ability to communicate safely and effectively through a website form, thus giving them a more secure and reliable communication system. With this in place, you will see an increase in community interaction and comments for your surveys and polls.

Using our contact forms is so easy; you do not need to know html, any technical knowledge, and can work on any web server. Our wizard will guide you through the process step by step so you can create the exact contact form while including all the questions you may need without any hassles of learning a computer language. All you do is fill in the information, copy the code that is generated, and then paste the code onto the appropriate page of your website.

About the Author

Ted Peterson writes for 123 Contact Form , a free service that helps you integrate HTML forms into your website.

Top 10 Reasons Why You Might Want to Redesign Your Website

by Rajesh Tavakari

Top Reasons Why You Might Want to Redesign Your Website

Have you ever thought about website redesigning? If so, you have come to the right place. Here, through this informative article, we will take a much closer look at some of the reasons that you may want to get a complete website redesign. We will also take a closer look at some of the things that redesigning your website can do for you. Read on to find out more.

Making Your Website Look More Attractive

Have you made yourself a website just for the sake of having a website? Did you just make a dinky website on your own since you have no experience in website designing? If so, then chances are that you may want to redesign your website. If you have a business, you want to get the best results. The key to your success may be how appealing your website looks. A website redesign can help your business a whole lot in the long run.

Organization Can Make All The Difference

One of the main reasons that you may want to consider getting a website redesign is because your website is currently unorganized. Chances are that there is information scattered throughout your entire website, without any rhyme or reason. If this is the case, then chances are that people may not understand your website when they do decide to visit it. By deciding to redesign your website, you could be making a huge difference in the success of your website.

Develop the Right Style For Your Website

There is no doubt that style can be very important for your website. Although there are certain things which you would love to see on your website, there are other things that you need to take into consideration when you go through website designing. This includes, what is the most suitable for your business, as well as what people are interested in seeing. If you decide to get your website redesigned, you will be able to have a website developed for the style which you are looking for. This can lead to the overall success of your website.

Promote Your Website

One of the main keys to your overall company success is website promotion. There are a number of different ways to increase your website promotion, some of which include search engine optimization, email campaigns, directories, and other websites. Of course, before you can experience the best website promotion, you need to make sure that your website is as professional and appealing as it can be. In order to have the most successful website promotion, you should definitely consider a new look for your website.

Get Better Website Optimization For Your Website

Chances are that you probably have your website listed in search engine databases. If so, you probably know the way that search engines work is through website optimization. This is when websites are arranged according to how well keywords match up to what a person is looking for, through keywords. In order to increase the search engine optimization for your website, some new website designing needs to be done. The best keywords will be chosen, to make your website more effective in search engines. For the best search engine optimization strategies and to increase website optimization, you should definitely consider having your website redesigned.

Change the Wording to Make it More Appealing

Are you unsure of whether or not the information on your website sounds appealing enough? Do you also want to make sure that people who view your website can easily understand it? These are both very good reasons to consider website redesigning. The way that your website is worded can make a huge deal to someone that is browsing through it. Making sure that it sounds as appealing as it possibly can be very important to your success, as well as your website optimization.

What Good Graphics Can Do For You

One of the main things which people want to see when they visit a website is graphics. There are a number of different things that graphic design services can do for your website.

* It can make your overall website look more appealing to anyone who visits it. * Graphic designs can also add to the style of your website. * If you have a company website, you may find that your overall success will be increased through graphic design.

Make Sure That Your Website is Easy to Use

One of the main things that people hate about websites is when they are not easy to use. When people use a website that has confusing navigation, chances are that they will not use the website again because they will get frustrated with it. Website redesigning can help you a lot when it comes to making your website easy to use. An understandable website can lead to the overall success of your business, by increasing the sales that you get.

Develop a More Professional Looking Website

One of the most important things that there is to know about website design is the fact that a website is the soul to your company. If you have a company which is very professional, chances are that you will also want your companyĆ¢€™s website to be very professional as well.

If a person finds that your website does not seem professional or legitimate enough, they will most likely avoid using your services. If you decide to get your website redesigned, you will feel rest assured to know that your website is as professional-looking as it should be.

Match Your Competition

The truth is that industries are constantly changing. If your website is older, chances are that the content that can be found on it may be out of date. In order to match your competition, you should have a website that is just as good as your competitors. Having your website redesigned can be extremely successful when it comes to this.

Why Is Website Redesign So Beneficial?

* The appearance of your website will be improved through graphics. * Your website promotion will be more successful. * Website optimization will be increased. * The overall success of your company will be increased, through encouraged sales or use of services.

About the Author

Rajesh V. Tavakari, Senior SEO of Website-Promotion-Ranking-Services.com/. Offering affordable website promotion and Website Redesigning services since 1998. You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided this courtesy notice, author name and URL remain intact.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Improve Search Rankings with SERTainty

by Kenn Schroder

There are many misunderstandings about how to get high rankings on search engines. I've heard some very strange ones such as "put a counter on your home page."


These myths -- downright bad advice -- can cause you to focus on useless, time-wasting efforts leading to confusion, frustration and, of course, poor results.

When making decisions about what to do to improve your rankings, let me give you a rule of thumb, and call it SERT - the Search Engine Rule of Thumb.

SERT is derived from simple logic based on motivation.

Here's how it goes ...

Your motivation - you want high rankings.

You want high rankings so that visitors will come to your site, subscribe to your newsletter, buy your products and hire you as their coach.

Ok, great. But guess what? Search engines control your rankings! So, in order to get high rankings, you need to do the things that search engines consider important. You need to appeal to the search engine motivation.

Search engine motivation - to have lots of people use the search engine.

Search engines such as Google and Yahoo want a lot of people to utilize their services so search engines can make money. So, they need searchers. But, in order to attract searchers, they need to appeal to the searchers' motivation.

Searchers' motivation - relevant results, fast.

Searchers are on a quest for something when they go to a search engine - information, product, fun, whatever. They want answers fast too. Waiting even five extra seconds for a page to load will result in people giving up, and moving on.

So what does this tell us?

That in order for you to get high rankings, you need to create a website that appeals to the motivation of searchers. That is, a website that provides highly relevant results and can do it quickly.

And that's the rule of thumb: In order to get high rankings, you need to do things that help people get relevant results fast.

Let's go a little deeper to give you some specifics to focus on.

How do search engines determine if a website is able to provide good results quickly?

Three of the most important things to keep in mind are: Content, Popularity and Accessibility.

* Websites with good content, easy-to-access content, and large amounts of content get higher search rankings than websites with less, poor or hard-to-find content.

* Websites with lots of links to it are more valuable than a similar website with fewer links to it. And links from relevant websites that also have high rankings results in more popularity.

* Websites that are easy for people to get to, load up fast, and are easy-to-use are better than ones that are inaccessible, slow and confusing.

So, back to the example mentioned earlier. Can you now see why adding a counter to your website won't do much for your rankings? It's because a counter on your home page doesn't provide good content, doesn't increase popularity, and doesn't make your site easier to access. It just counts!

When you eliminate the confusion, and stop wasting time on ineffective methods, you begin to identify and focus your efforts on things that will help your website improve its rankings on search engines.

Use the SERT rule of thumb to be sertain you are on the right path to higher rankings.

About the Author

Kenn Schroder helps coaches who are struggling to attract clients. He provides web design, web marketing and search engine optimization to help you build a client-attracting coaching website. Get your FREE report and FREE newsletter to help you build a practice full of clients. http://www.CoachingSitesThatWork.com

Don't Leave Your Web Site Visitors Wondering Who You Are

by Susan Daffron

When you create goals for your business Web site, one of them needs to be to "tell people how to get in touch with us." It never ceases to amaze me how many Web sites omit this basic information. When you fail to include contact information on your Web site, not only are you leaving prospective customers in the dark, you're also probably missing out on a tremendous number of public relations and marketing opportunities.

For example, most companies send out media releases when something notable happens. They release a new product, host an event, or offer a new service, so they want the media to tell the world. The hope is that a reporter will write a glowing article and send customers to their doorstep.

For many years, I've been writing newsletters and product reviews that rely on press releases for information. Almost invariably, the first thing I do after reading a press release is visit the Web site. The information in the press release is incomplete, so I am forced to surf for answers. When that doesn't work, I email or call. Sometimes nothing works. So if you want to get mentioned in the press here are a few "inside" tips:

1. Return your phone calls and e-mails. If you want to reach the press, you have to let them reach you. (In my experience, giant companies with the largest PR staffs are the least responsive.)

2. Put your Web site address, contact information, and prices in the press release. Most magazines that do product reviews put the company name, address, phone, web site and pricing info at the end of the article. Don't make a writer spend ages trying to figure out how much your widget costs.

3. In your press release, use real words, not vague generalities or industry buzzwords. If you sell software, actually SAY it is software somewhere. A "solution" could be a lot of things. Maybe hardware, maybe software, maybe a garage door opener. You need to be as clear as possible about the basics.

4. Use a spell checker. A grammar checker would be nice too. Unintelligible press releases aren't picked up, no matter how wonderful the product.

A bad situation is made worse when a company Web site is also incomplete. Every business Web site should include phone, mailing address, and an email address or contact form. This contact information should be linked from the Home page or available on every page, such as in a footer. Don't make your contact information impossible to find.

Putting all your press releases online also makes it easy for writers to see what you've done in the past so they can get a better perspective on your company. If your product is interesting, bloggers and others might link to your press releases as well.

The bottom line is that if you own a business and want to be noticed, your Web site absolutely must make it easy for people to get in touch with you.

About the Author

Susan Daffron is the President of Logical Expressions, Inc. (http://www.logicalexpressions.com) and the author of books on pets, web business, computing, and vegetarian cooking. Visit http://www.publishize.com to receive a complimentary Publishize podcast or newsletter and bonus report."

7 Tips for More Website Traffic

by Colin L Wolfenden

If there's one thing that every website owner craves it's more traffic, or more targeted traffic to be precise. While there may not be any one method that is the holly grail of website traffic the following tips are sure to give you a nice increase in steady traffic to your website and along with it a boost to your sales.

1. SEO to Increase Natural Search Traffic
By following a good search engine optimization strategy an using targeted keywords effectively within your website content pages you will improve your ranking and thus attract more natural search traffic.

2. Building Inbound Links
Your linking strategies should include not only link exchanges with sites within your main theme but also gaining one-way links as well. A good way to get high quality one way links is to provide some quality content such as an article to a high page ranked site within a similar theme to your own site in exchange for a link within the article pointing back to your site. Adding your link to various directories can also help improve your ranking and bring more traffic too.

3. Paid Advertising
If your budget allows, you can include a variety of paid advertising such as banner ads, text ads or pay-per-click advertising. It is important however to always track any of these paid ads to ensure that you are getting positive results otherwise you could easily blow your entire budget without seeing a return for your money. An alternative to paying for such traffic is a free click formula such as Google Snatch.

4. Offline Advertising
Including your web address on your offline stationary and business cards can help to bring in visitors from your offline networking efforts.

5. Quality Content for Repeat Traffic
By providing quality content throughout your site and updating it regularly you will encourage your visitors to return and also to tell their friends about your great site. If possible it is also a good idea to incorporate viral marketing into your site by providing a free e-book download with some useful content and link to your site that visitors can pass on to their friends.

6. Web Directory Inclusion
It is a good idea to request for your website to be included into a number of web directories as this will help potential visitors find your site under a category that is relevant to the topic of your site.

7. Simple Site Navigation
Making your site easy to navigate is a must as poor or complicated navigation is more likely to discourage visitors to return. There are plenty of sites who will provide your visitors with the information they are looking for if they can't easily find it on your site because of a poor navigation layout. Remember, keeping a visitor on your site and encouraging them to return are two vitally important goals for any website owner.

There you have it. 7 tips to help bring more traffic to your website and with more traffic should also come more profits to. Follow the tips above and you should be well on your way to plenty of traffic and sales.

About the Author

Discover the Hidden Google Traffic Secret Today. Check out Google Snatch - The Free Click Formula

Before You Call a Web Developer, Ask Yourself One Question

by Susan Daffron

Because we develop Web sites, not surprisingly, the first words we often hear from people are: "I need a Web site." My response is often "why?" The answer to that question can be quite telling. I can almost guarantee that you won't end up with a good Web site if you don't even know why you need one in the first place.

People waste a tremendous amount of time and money on pointless Web sites. The reality is that a Web site should be treated like any other business or marketing expenditure. As with any other advertising medium, you should set goals for your Web site. For example, suppose you sell dog treats. You spend a bunch of money printing a brochure that explains why your dog treats are healthier or tastier than the ones at the grocery store. The goal for that brochure is to give people information on all the fabulous benefits of your special dog treats.

In much the same way, your Web site might explain why your dog treats are great. In fact, it might be nothing more than an "online brochure" with a lot of the same information as the paper one. That's a reasonable goal for a new site. Since lots of people surfing around online have dogs, later on you may decide that you want to expand your horizons outside of your local area and use the Internet to sell your marvelous dog treats online. In that case, you might need to learn more about ecommerce, merchant accounts, and shopping carts.

As a general rule, people go online to find information, to be entertained, or to buy stuff. If your site lets people do one or more of these things, it has a reason to exist. However, unlike your paper brochure, a Web site has only about four seconds to get your message across (according to a recent report from Akamai and Jupiter Research). If you have no clue what information people are supposed to glean from your Web site, neither will your site visitors. Four seconds later, they're gone and they probably won't return.

Your site goals have a lot to do with your business. Many businesses put up Web sites largely for people who are outside of the community and looking for products or services. The most likely visitors to these sites would be tourists and people moving or new to the community, so the information on the site could include frequently asked question (FAQ) pages, pricing, driving directions, and contact information

When setting Web site goals, it makes sense to think about the visitors you are hoping to attract to the site. Who will be reading it? What do they need to know? Why would they visit your site in the first place? What terms would they type into a search engine to find your site? If you don't have good answers for these questions, you should reconsider the question I asked at the beginning of this article: "Why do you need a Web site?"

Not every business needs a Web site. Many service businesses that rely exclusively on local customers and word of mouth may not. You know your business better than anyone, so before you pick up the phone to call a Web designer, think about what you want your Web site to do for you and why.

About the Author

Susan Daffron is the President of Logical Expressions, Inc. (http://www.logicalexpressions.com) and the author of books on pets, web business, computing, and vegetarian cooking. Visit http://www.publishize.com to receive a complimentary Publishize podcast or newsletter and bonus report."

How to Write Compelling Web Site Content That Gets Read

by Susan Daffron

Figuring out what to say on your Web site can be a challenge. For many business owners, talking about themselves is difficult. However, coming up with good Web content is easy if you keep your customer and the search engines in mind. Whether you write the text for the Web site yourself or hand off notes to a writer, you need to think about who will visit your site and how they get there.

As an exercise, write down the three types of people most likely to visit your site. Include their age, gender, occupation, and anything else you can think of relating to their needs, desires, likes, dislikes and so forth. For example, suppose you own a dental clinic. Maybe you offer relaxing music and specialize in trying to make the dental experience less traumatic for those who hate the dreaded drill. Visualize your best customer and then write the text as if you were talking to him in person.

If you write your text as if you are talking to one individual person (i.e. your ideal customer), the verbiage will naturally focus on the customer's needs and interests. Always use the second person (you) on your Web site. Your visitor doesn't care about your company; he cares about himself. Avoid talking about your company and the various features of your widget. Instead talk about what your products and services can do for the customer. For example, don't talk about the specifics of the high-end dental drill you just bought. Talk about how when a client visits your office, he can enjoy better health and look better without experiencing any fear or pain.

When people are searching for anything online, they are always asking "what's in it for me" (WIIFM), so your copy needs to focus on their needs. Links are another way you can engage people. For example, instead of standard link that says "Widget Installation Video," add some action with a verb, such as "Watch a 5-minute video that shows how easy it is to install your new Widget."

When writing your text, you also should consider how people might search for your company online. When someone goes to Google, what string of words might he or she type into the search box? For example, if you are a new resident of Tikaville, Idaho looking for a dentist, you might type in: Tikaville Idaho dentist. In your Web copy, you should include those search terms. Search engines also place special emphasis on headings and the title of the page, so you should include potential search phrases in those key areas.

In the end, however, you should not write your page for the search engines. Write your text for human beings, since they are the ones who will decide to use your products and services (or not). When you write clear, compelling text that explains what your business can do for customers, it's almost always good content for search engines as well. Keep your sentences short and break up text with lots of headlines, and you'll be rewarded with a Web site that nets you both compliments and more business.

About the Author

Susan Daffron is the President of Logical Expressions, Inc. (http://www.logicalexpressions.com) and the author of books on pets, web business, computing, and vegetarian cooking. Visit http://www.publishize.com to receive a complimentary Publishize podcast or newsletter and bonus report."

Are You Tired Of Playing The Link Exchange Game

by Andy Machin

One of the tried and tested methods of getting traffic to your web site is exchanging links with other like minded web site owners. But I ask you is link exchanging really worth the effort against other less burdensome web site promotion methodologies you can employ.

Once you have your nice shiny new web site uploaded on to the internet the next step is to get traffic to it. Perhaps the obvious way many new webmasters and even experienced begin to do that is by firing off emails right left and centre to other webmasters seeking a link exchange. But is that the right thing to do I wonder. It is very time consuming to identify potential suitable link partners with the reward often not matching the return in either successful link exchanges or traffic to your web site.

It is a game. Many web site owners will not reply. Or those that do may seek to impose conditions on the link exchange. In my experience, and probably yours too, some of the replies will involve an outright refusal because their site has a higher google page rank than yours and they absolutely cannot risk linking with you because it will damage their precious page rank. The fact that their site might be hidden away on page 658 of the search results is immaterial to them - but they must protect that page rank at all costs.

Another old chestnut is that the webmaster you are seeking to exchange links with will insist on a front page link on your site nice and prominent but in return they will put your link away hidden on some links page where nobody will ever find it unless by accident.

I have even had some people say they will not link with one of my sites unless I actually change the wording on the front page. I have experienced other similar demands on link exchange requests as I am sure you have too. It is very frustrating do you not agree.

Frankly I have become tired of playing the link exchange game. If I get approached by other web site owners for a link exchange I will always consider that request and see if something can be worked out for mutual benefit though I no longer actively seek to initiate link exchange requests because given what you tend to come across I am of the opinion that it is largely wasted effort.

Of course link popularity is important in attracting traffic to your web site but there are many other methods to achieve that without relying on the old staple of a traditional link exchange. A quick example of one being to participate in forums related to the topic of your web site. Include your web site URL in your signature and join in forum threads. Each reply you post will include your web site address and any other forum member who sees your post may visit your site via your link. The more posts you make, the more links you are gaining which in turn increases the chance of people visiting your web site.

You may take a similar approach by commenting on blogs and including your web site address and also in web site guest books and similar.

Writing articles and submitting them to the major article directories just like this one is another excellent way to promote your web site and gain links at the same time. Your articles may be reproduced by other web site owners, on blogs or used by ezine and newsletter publishers. Using a resource box in each article including your web site address means additional complimentary exposure for your site.

Writing a short article takes very little time. For example writing the article you are reading now took me about half an hour over breakfast and a coffee. Each one you write and submit to article directories means you are automatically gaining backlinks to your web site with the prospect of people visiting your site via your link in the resource box.

Another good way to promote your web site easily and quickly is to use the free press release distribution services which are out there. In a similar way to article submission you gain automatic backlinks and exposure with minimal effort and absolutely no financial outlay.

The half hour I spent on this article will be a much more productive half hour than spending that time emailing web site owners to explore a traditional link exchange. I suggest to you that there is little need play the link exchange game. Try some of the other linking and web site promotional methods outlined in this article to attract traffic to your web sites and you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

About the Author

Download your free page rank ebook and see how I have gained and maintained number 1 search engine positions regardless of google page rank. Visit http://www.pagerankparanoia.c today for your free ebook.

How To "Big Brother" Your Own Website (A Handy List of the Top SiteChecker Tools & Sites)

by Titus Hoskins

How Well Do You Really Know Your Website?

If you're like most webmasters, you have probably spent years building your site. You have spent years adding content, building links and cultivating traffic - but how well do you really know your website?

How well do you know the intricate details of your website's traffic? Where do your site's visitors come from? How long do they stay on your site? Just where do they go to on your site and how well do they convert into buyers or subscribers?

Do you know your site's rankings in the major search engines? What are your site's top keywords? What's your site's Google PageRank? Who are your IP neighbors? What your site looks like in other browsers? How much is your site worth?

These are just some of the questions you should know, mainly because the more knowledge you possess about your site, the better equipped you will be at improving it. So here's a simple list of free site checking tools/sites that will let you "Big Brother" (monitor and watch) your site.

1. Google Analytics

Perhaps one of the most helpful analytical tools you can use on your site. Google Analytics will give you a wealth of information about your site's traffic. Where it comes from, how long it stays on your site, where it goes on your site, how well your content converts... invaluable information every webmaster should have in their possession. ( www.google.com/analytics )

2. NetMechanic Toolbox

Check your site's mechanics - find broken links, check browser compatibility, find bad HTML code, spot slow-loading pages, and check your spelling... all by using the NetMechanic Toolbox: ( www.netmechanic.com )

3. Keyword Suggestion Tool

This free keyword suggestion tool will tell you how many searches are done in WordTracker and Overture for your site's keywords. Extremely valuable information since much of web's traffic and ecommerce is keyword driven. ( www.digitalpoint.com/tools/suggestion/)

4. Iwebtool

This is another free site which offers many valuable webmaster's tools that will give you information about your/any site. Google PageRank, PageRank Prediction, Link Popularity, Search Engine Positions for Keywords, Backlink Checker... also Visual PageRank where you can see all the PR values of all the links on a given page - both internal and external. ( www.iwebtool.com )

5. Alexa Traffic Rankings

Alexa tracks the web's traffic by using the Alexa bar in a surfer's browser. Most people know it is not an accurate assessment of the traffic on the net but is a handy measuring stick, nonetheless. It is also a handy tool for comparing sites and seeing the long-tern traffic trends of different sites, including your own. ( www.alexa.com )

6. Your Site's Traffic Logs

Most webmasters know your raw traffic logs are worth checking and reading. It contains valuable information about your site. Especially helpful if you're checking for broken links on your site, you don't want to see those 302's everywhere. Close examination and regular checking of your traffic logs and stats will point out the profitable keywords on your site.

7. BetterWhois

You can use this site to find out the domain information about your site. Do you have control of your domain? Many webmasters buy their domain name thru their web hosting company, while this is not a problem in itself, however, if any dispute should arise who has administrative control of your domain; you or your hosting company? Can you change hosting companies? ( www.betterwhois.com )

8. Google Alerts

Another valuable tool from Google which notifies you by email when your link or site is found anywhere on the web. Great for keeping track of any new links your site is getting. Many webmasters also use this handy tool to keep track of their competitor's sites. They also use Google Alerts to keep track of whenever their own name is mentioned anywhere on the web. This one would even make Orwell proud. ( www.google.com/alerts )

9. IP Neighbors

Many webmasters have their site hosted on shared hosting plans, which means there can be hundreds of sites sharing the same IP address. This site lets you discover who your IP neighbors are. Why would you want to know your IP neighbors? Well like neighbors everywhere; there are good ones and there are bad ones. For example, if you have a neighboring site that uses email to spam, it could get your IP address blocked or shut down. ( www.myipneighbors.com )

10. Any Browser

Use to this handy site to discover what your site looks like in different browsers; you could be in for a real shock. ( www.anybrowser.com )

11. Google Toolbar

The Google Toolbar can be placed on your browser so that when you're surfing you can see the Google PageRank of each page/site you're visiting. Many SEO experts believe Google is not giving us the true PR of a page and this bar is rather useless. However, like the Alexa rankings it is a handy measuring stick, nonetheless. ( www.toolbar.google.com )

12. What Is Your Site Worth?

Please take this last analyzing tool with "a large grain of salt", but it is fun to use and to see how much your site is worth. Measurement here is done largely by the amount of links you have coming into your site. ( directory.sootle.com/website-worth )

In conclusion, all of these free handy tools/sites will give you a better, more complete picture of your own site. Remember, the more knowledge you acquire about your own site and your competitor's sites, the more equipped you will be to succeed. This is one case where being a "Big Brother" can truly benefit your site.

About the Author

The author is a full-time online marketer who has numerous websites, including two sites on Internet marketing. For the latest web marketing tools try: Internet Marketing Tools Or why not try these: Free Marketing Courses Copyright © 2007 Titus Hoskins. This article may be freely distributed with box.

Analyzing Website Traffic

by matthew faulkner / http://mattchip.blogspot.com

Analyzing your web traffic statistics can be an invaluable tool for a number of different reasons. But before you can make full use of this tool, you need to understand how to interpret the data.

Most web hosting companies will provide you with basic web traffic information that you then have to interpret and make pertinent use of. However, the data you receive from your host company can be overwhelming if you don't understand how to apply it to your particular business and website. Let's start by examining the most basic data - the average visitors to your site on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

These figures are the most accurate measure of your website's activity. It would appear on the surface that the more traffic you see recorded, the better you can assume your website is doing, but this is an inaccurate perception. You must also look at the behavior of your visitors once they come to your website to accurately gauge the effectiveness of your site.

There is often a great misconception about what is commonly known as "hits" and what is really effective, quality traffic to your site. Hits simply means the number of information requests received by the server. If you think about the fact that a hit can simply equate to the number of graphics per page, you will get an idea of how overblown the concept of hits can be. For example, if your homepage has 15 graphics on it, the server records this as 15 hits, when in reality we are talking about a single visitor checking out a single page on your site. As you can see, hits are not useful in analyzing your website traffic.

The more visitors that come to your website, the more accurate your interpretation will become. The greater the traffic is to your website, the more precise your analysis will be of overall trends in visitor behavior. The smaller the number of visitors, the more a few anomalous visitors can distort the analysis.

The aim is to use the web traffic statistics to figure out how well or how poorly your site is working for your visitors. One way to determine this is to find out how long on average your visitors spend on your site. If the time spent is relatively brief, it usually indicates an underlying problem. Then the challenge is to figure out what that problem is.

It could be that your keywords are directing the wrong type of visitors to your website, or that your graphics are confusing or intimidating, causing the visitor to exit rapidly. Use the knowledge of how much time visitors are spending on your site to pinpoint specific problems, and after you fix those problems, continue to use time spent as a gauge of how effective your fix has been.

Additionally, web traffic stats can help you determine effective and ineffective areas of your website. If you have a page that you believe is important, but visitors are exiting it rapidly, that page needs attention. You could, for example, consider improving the link to this page by making the link more noticeable and enticing, or you could improve the look of the page or the ease that your visitors can access the necessary information on that page.

If, on the other hand, you notice that visitors are spending a lot of time on pages that you think are less important, you might consider moving some of your sales copy and marketing focus to that particular page.

As you can see, these statistics will reveal vital information about the effectiveness of individual pages, and visitor habits and motivation. This is essential information to any successful Internet marketing campaign.

Your website undoubtedly has exit pages, such as a final order or contact form. This is a page you can expect your visitor to exit rapidly. However, not every visitor to your site is going to find exactly what he or she is looking for, so statistics may show you a number of different exit pages. This is normal unless you notice a exit trend on a particular page that is not intended as an exit page. In the case that a significant percentage of visitors are exiting your website on a page not designed for that purpose, you must closely examine that particular page to discern what the problem is. Once you pinpoint potential weaknesses on that page, minor modifications in content or graphic may have a significant impact on the keeping visitors moving through your site instead of exiting at the wrong page.

After you have analyzed your visitor statistics, it's time to turn to your keywords and phrases. Notice if particular keywords are directing a specific type of visitor to your site. The more targeted the visitor - meaning that they find what they are looking for on your site, and even better, fill out your contact form or make a purchase - the more valuable that keyword is.

However, if you find a large number of visitors are being directed - or should I say misdirected - to your site by a particular keyword or phrase, that keyword demands adjustment. Keywords are vital to bringing quality visitors to your site who are ready to do business with you. Close analysis of the keywords your visitors are using to find your site will give you a vital understanding of your visitor's needs and motivations.

Finally, if you notice that users are finding your website by typing in your company name, break open the champagne! It means you have achieved a significant level of brand recognition, and this is a sure sign of burgeoning success.

About the Author

matthew faulkner / expert author ezinearticles.com http://tinyurl.com/ysqbwg port charlotte fl 33952

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Web Site Design with Street Maps - How to Help Customers Find You

by Daniel Salas

Do your customers know how to find your brick-and-mortar business? Sure, you hired a great Web site design company to overhaul your old site, improved your online presence with some pay per click advertising, and now Internet traffic is picking up. But if your business depends on people walking through your front door or front gate, do customers know where to go?

One sign of trouble is phone calls from people asking for directions, especially when they call from within a five minute drive of your business. Why can't they find you?

A good solution is a printable street map on your Web site. You might have expected people to type your street address into Google Maps or Yahoo! Maps, but think how much easier it is for users to find and print a map from your own site.

Here are some options:

* Scan an existing picture from your brochure into a computer and resize it on a Web page. Unfortunately the results rarely look as crisp and clean as they did on glossy paper, especially the words which may become unreadable.
* Hire a Web developer to create an interactive map with a tool such as Adobe Flash. Be aware that some users' browsers may not have the technology needed to view the results, so you may lose customers.
* Hire an artist to draw a custom map, including your building (or buildings) and main entrance. This is the best way to get a map exactly the way you want it to look.
* Hire a Web developer to use a mapping service such as Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps or MapQuest on your Web site. If done well, this option provides the best interactive mapping experience for users.
* Show a screenshot of an interactive map on your site. This will frustrate experienced map users because they'll click on the picture, trying to pan or zoom.

If you design a custom map:

* Show relevant streets and cross streets, with readable street names.
* Show customers where to park and where to find the main entrance.
* Include a simple direction indicator. To prevent confusion, place north at the top of the drawing, no matter which direction customers will face at your front door or gate.
* Consider showing more than one map at different zoom levels, to help customers find your business at the state, city and street levels.

If you use a mapping service:

* Make the map large enough for users to see everything they need to see (especially buildings and street names) without zooming or scrolling.
* Shape-based maps (typically with colored lines for streets on white backgrounds) are easier to understand than satellite photos. As an option, you may include controls to switch to satellite photos.
* To let users interact with the map, include controls for zooming and scrolling.
* If your map has a "find directions to us" theme, pre-load your street address into the text boxes of the destination.

For any type of map:

* Make sure users can find the map page. Keep it near the top of site navigation, not buried layers deep in menu options such as Information - Visit Us - Location - Map
* Try printing your map. Is it big and clear enough to be read while riding in a car?

I saved the most important tip for last: no matter what type of map you use, show your street address (with number and name) on your home page, or even on every page of your Web site. With a well-designed map and a clearly visible street address on your site, foot traffic is sure to increase.

About the Author


Dan Salas is a software engineer, Web developer and occasional world traveler. To browse destinations and things to do on your next vacation or holiday, visit his Web site at http://www.AreWeThereYetMap.com

How to Enhance Your Web Site with Header Graphics

by Erik Curre

So you're making your own web site. You've been working on it for a while, you have some good content, but something is still missing... cool graphics! Let's face it: a web site without nice graphics is like a TV show without color. It's boring and drab and won't look very visually appealing. You want your site to catch people's attention and make them say, "Hmm, this looks interesting, I think I'll check it out". One of the best ways to do this is to have a good header graphic at the top of the page.

What is a Header Graphic?

A header graphic is an image consisting of three parts: a background, a title, and a sub-heading. For example, let's say you are building a web site about dogs. Your background might be a scenic view of a city park with a few dogs running around having a good time. Your title might be: "Dog Lovers Paradise". For a sub-heading, you could either use the URL of your main web site (www.yourdomainname.com) or a line of descriptive text saying what your site is about: "all the info you need to be a good dog owner", "buy discount dog food here", "how to take care of your dog", etc. If you are running on online business, you could put your business slogan here.

How do I get Header Graphics?

There are 3 main ways to get header graphics, depending on how much time and money you have available:

1. The expensive way - hire a professional graphic designer to make them for you

2. The cheap way - buy a customizable set of pre-made graphics from the Internet

3. The free way - make them yourself!

Option #1 may be great for big corporations that have a lot of money, but it's not so practical for small businesses or individuals who make web pages as a hobby. Sure, you might be able to hire a freelance graphic designer who will charge $50 per graphic or something like that, but even that's a lot of money for most people.

When I design web sites, I prefer option #2. This is a great balance between time and money. It's easy to find header graphics packages that cost a lot less than hiring a professional. Such packages typically provide a number of different generic backgrounds and styles so you can pick one that fits the topic of your site. Graphics are given to you in a format that makes it easy to edit the individual elements of the image, such as the popular Adobe Photoshop .psd format.

In a .psd file, image elements are organized in layers that can be turned on and off, or changed as you see fit. So you could pick a header graphic that you like, change the title and sub-heading to be whatever you want, and then save the new image as a .jpg file for your web page and you're done! It's that easy! You can have a nice, professional looking header for your web site in as little as 2 or 3 minutes! All you have to do is spend a little bit of time and money finding a good graphics package to use.

If you have a little more time and want to make something truly original, then you can go with option #3: do it yourself. Making your own header graphics can take a lot of time, but the rewards are well worth it. If you are good at it, you could even go into business for yourself as a freelance graphic designer or make your own graphics package to sell!

How do I Make My Own Header Graphics?

First, you'll need some good image editing software. I prefer Adobe Photoshop, but it's kind of expensive. If you want free software, I suggest using Gimp, which can be downloaded from here:

http://gimp-win.sourceforge.net/stable.html

You need to download and install both the "Gimp" and "GTK+2" packages to get Gimp working. I also recommend that you download the optional help files and animation packages. If you do a search for Gimp on Google, you'll be able to find plenty of tutorials on how to use the program. But I like Photoshop, so for the sake of this article I will be talking only about Photoshop.

After you've got image editing software, you need to find a good background for your header. I find that the best backgrounds are scenic landscapes: mountain views, beaches, parks, cityscapes, urban vistas, forests, lakes, etc. To avoid copyright issues, you should grab a digital camera, go out and take a picture yourself from someplace near your house. Going back to my earlier example about a "Dog Lovers Paradise" web site, you might visit a city park and take a picture of some dogs running around the park.

Now put the background photo into Photoshop and crop the image (select the part of it that you want to use for your header graphic, and cut away the rest of the picture). I recommend using a rectangular 700x125 pixel chunk. Be sure to include a bit of open space that you can put your title and sub-heading on.

Many effective header graphics include pictures of people, animals, vehicles, or other objects in the right or left side of the graphic (obviously you should use something that is related to the topic of your web site). You can get people pictures by surfing the Internet for clip-art collections, or by taking photos of your friends and family. So let's say you want your lovable pet dog to appear on the right side of your "Dog Lovers Paradise" header. Follow these steps:

1. Take a picture of your dog and open it with Photoshop.

2. Resize the picture so it's small enough to fit into your header.

3. Use Photoshop's lasso tool to outline the dog and copy & paste it into your header as a new layer.

4. Use the move tool to position the dog where you want it.

5. Zoom in and use the eraser tool to get rid of any messy edges around the dog. You want the dog to blend into the background so it's not obvious that you copied & pasted from another image. For your eraser settings, I recommend using brush mode with a 5-pixel diameter and opacity of 100%. These settings will give you a nice fuzziness around the edges.

The last step is to add your title and sub-heading text. Obviously the title should be larger than the sub-heading. You might also want to use different colors to differentiate the sub-heading from the title. Pick an empty area in the middle of your header for the title text. The sub-heading usually goes at the bottom below the title. I like to use Arial or Impact for the font. Impact makes a good impression for the title and Arial is good for the sub-heading.

Adding special effects to your text is a nice finishing touch. Right click on the name of the text layer and select Blending Options from the menu. You'll have to experiment with the different styles to see what works best for you, but I recommend using a combination of Drop Shadow and Outer Glow. The Stroke style can also produce nice results.

And that's it! You're done! Don't forget to save the final image as both a .psd file and a .jpg. You want the .psd so you can easily make changes if necessary. Here's a summary of the steps to make your own header graphic:

1. Start with a background graphic.

2. Copy & paste clip-art (people, animals, etc.) onto the background.

3. Add title and sub-heading text.

4. Add special effects such as a Drop Shadow and/or Outer Glow.

5. Save as a .psd and .jpg file.

It sounds complicated but it's really not that hard. Once you are familiar with the process, it should only take you 2 or 3 hours to make a professional looking header graphic from scratch!

Wow, this is Great! Now What?

You should put a header graphic on every major page of your site, especially your main home page. If you like making headers, you could consider going into business for yourself as a freelance graphic designer or start selling your headers and open on online store! Even if you're just making a personal home page as a hobby, you'll be able to impress all your friends and make them say, "ooohh, look at that!"

Regardless of whether you choose the do-it-yourself approach or decide to be lazy and use customizable pre-made graphics, you can have really nice professional header graphics for your web site with very little time and effort, at very little or no cost. Header graphics will make your site look more attractive and will entice more people to read your content. And that's never a bad thing!

Have fun building your web site, and you can always contact me if you have any questions or need help with something related to this article. Good luck!

About the Author

Erik Curre is the creator of an online tutorial that shows you how to build your own money making web site from scratch. Get started today!

Or you can check out Erik's other web site: Web Header Graphics Pack

Simple Sites Sell...

by Jeff Cowtan

What a wonderful world wide web! In recent years haven't we all seen an explosion of spectacular websites with fantastic blockbuster quality movie intros, highly detailed graphical content, or wonderful moving images and banners. Needless to say the webdesigners now have a massive arena in which to show off what they can do. What a wonderful way to demonstrate how they can generate even more elaborate web windows to the world. And of course this trend will probably continue as new technologies become continually more compatible with the internet.

But herein lies a problem...

What is the point of a website? Is it there to show the imagination and skills of the webdesigner? Is it to show the world what can be achieved through the awesome power of this phenomenal medium called the internet? Maybe it's to see how far the boundaries of this incredible technology can be pushed!

Now of course the main purpose of any full on e-commerce website is to sell, sell, sell, but many would argue that the main reason to have a website is to simply provide information. Now, although many site owners with good intentions will argue to the contrary, I believe that the true purpose of...well let's just say the majority of websites...really only exist to make money!

A controversial statement, but even those who claim otherwise, in the majority of cases the bigger picture means a method to generate income. And why not? Whether that be for charitable causes or free enterprise, information sites serve the purpose of creating awareness of the owner's product or service, which in turn will lead to the production of revenue.

So why do so many websites not make this purpose clear?

The simple fact is, that no matter what you are selling, the more easily your visitor can see what is going on, or find what they are looking for, the more likely they will stick around, or at least come back. This in turn will hopefully lead them to take the ultimate action, to finally dip their hand in their pockets!

It should be obvious that if a site is clear, clean and easily navigable then the more successful it is likely to be. The less your visitor has to 'look' or 'search' for what he or she is trying to find, the greater the chance of them taking the action that you ultimately want...and that is to buy!

Now what do you think gets in the way of clear, clean and easy navigation? The answer is simple. Many webdesigns are just too complicated. They take too long to load or just bombard the visitor with just too much information when they get there!

Now I'm not saying too much information is a bad thing but too much on one page, or one area of the page, a never ending supply of links or excessive use of images, just confuse the reader...and then what happens? They go somewhere else, where it might be a little easier to find what they are looking for.

No dear reader, the sooner your visitor finds what they came for, the more profitable it will be for you. Crisp, clear navigation is the key. Get them where they need to be within just a few clicks of the mouse. Avoid coloured fonts, especially on anything other than a white background and keep paragraphs relatively short. Of course make sure the site looks professional as nothing looks worse than text that's all over the show or images that spill into areas where they shouldn't be.

Give them some space and make it easy for them!

About the Author

Did you know that there are now estimated to be billions of web pages on the internet? It's more difficult than ever to make yours stand out. www.cheapandsimplewebdesign.com and find out how a simple webdesign can grow your business.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pros and Cons of Flash-based Sites

by sas_scanderalex

Flash-based sites have been a craze since the past few years, and as Macromedia compiles more and more great features into Flash, we can only predict there will be more and more flash sites around the Internet. However, Flash based sites have been disputed to be bloated and unnecessary. Where exactly do we draw the line? Here's a simple breakdown.

The good:

Interactivity

Flash's Action script opens up a vast field of possibilities. Programmers and designers have used Flash to create interactive features ranging from very lively feedback forms to attractive Flash-based games. This whole new level of interactivity will always leave visitors coming back for more.

A standardized site

With Flash, you do not have to worry about cross-browser compatibility. No more woes over how a certain CSS code displays differently in Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera. When you position your site elements in Flash, they will always appear as they are as long as the user has Flash Player installed.

Better expression through animation

In Flash, one can make use of its animating features to convey a message in a much more efficient and effective way. Flash is a lightweight option for animation because it is vector based (and hence smaller file sizes) as opposed to real "movie files" that are raster based and hence much larger in size.

The bad and the ugly:

The Flash player

People have to download the Flash player in advance before they can view Flash movies, so by using Flash your visitor range will decrease considerably because not everyone will be willing to download the Flash player just to view your site. You'll also have to put in additional work in redirecting the user to the Flash download page if he or she doesn't have the player installed.

Site optimization

If your content was presented in Flash, most search engines wouldn't be able to index your content. Hence, you will not be able to rank well in search engines and there will be less traffic heading to your site.

Loading time

Users have to wait longer than usual to load Flash content compared to regular text and images, and some visitors might just lose their patience and click the Back button. The longer your Flash takes to load, the more you risk losing visitors.

The best way to go is to use Flash only when you absolutely need the interactivity and motion that comes with it. Otherwise, use a mixture of Flash and HTML or use pure text if your site is purely to present simple textual and graphical information. What ever your choice, if your site is to rank well then you must stick with html.

The advantages of flash are purely visual, but, ironically, if your site is pure plain html and you get ranked well, those visitors who get there might not be willing to buy from you because they don't like the site design...and how do you design your site to look more appealing? Using flash...

About the Author

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