Building A Successful Website In 10 Easy Steps

by : Scott Lindsay

So why do you want a website? Would you like to create a personal page to tell the world who you are and what you dream for? Or maybe you have a large family, with members living in different parts of the world and you'd like to keep the family together at least online. What about making a living online or promoting your business? No matter the reasons, here are a few tips that will help you create a professional website.

1. Design a website focused on a particular topic and then carefully categorize its contents. If it's a family site keep it to the subject and don't mess it up with unrelated issues. If it's a business site and you sell flowers, don't put in web design services, escort services and so on.

2. Avoid heavy loading images, especially for the background. It is actually advisable that you avoid dark backgrounds all together - dark colors usually inspire negative feelings. People might subconsciously reject your message because of a cluttered, unpleasant background.

3. Don't use Flash: it is annoying for visitors that still use dial up and need to wait for Flash to load, it cannot get through certain firewalls and you can rarely find a web designer able to create a Flash website worth its price. Oh, yeah! Flash is expensive. Flash also has another major disadvantage: it is very difficult to optimize and reach high SERP. Use no sound - unless you create a website for a music band or other music related topic. Believe it: it's scary to land on the page that suddenly plays an AC/DC theme.

4. Create a clear menu and clear navigation on all your web pages. As in life, people do not like "dead ends" so don't lead them to dead pages. Help your visitors find easily what they are looking for.

5. Make sure your visitors can contact you. Eventually provide a contact phone number, fax and email address on each page. If not, display a clear contact button. Note that people HATE to fill in long forms. If you must have one, don't force the visitors give out information they normally wouldn't like to. Keep it simple. After a visitor has contacted you, make sure you answer it time. Failing to answer questions and requests could damage your good name.

6. If you collect private information - yes, email address, phone number and name are considered private information - provide a clear link to a disclaimer and privacy policy. You don't want your visitors to believe you are going to sell their email addresses to spammers, would you?

7. People don't really care who you are. Sure, it is important that they know there are real people behind a business, but it is more important that you first underline the benefits a visitor can find on your website. Place the information about who you are in the proper "About Us" category and let the visitor decide whether to read it or not.

8. Use special characters carefully on your page copy. This includes ALL CAPS, bold and italic text. Try not to underline phrases or words, as people tend to consider underlined text as links. Use special characters solely for what really matters, when you really want to highlight an idea.

9. Do not display any "under construction" pages on your website. If they are under construction keep them offline till you are ready. Also avoid dead links or 404 error messages.

10. Always have a linking strategy. This will boost your site in the search engine results and will give your visitors access to valuable information. Make sure that you link to sites that complete your website. If you are selling lamps link to lighting magazines, interior decoration companies and so on.

These are just simple rules that will help you make the first steps in creating a professional, user friendly website. There are other important aspects you should consider: designing with web standards, optimizing your web pages for both visitors and search engines, promoting your website and so on. But for the beginning these ten simple steps could make the difference between success and failure.