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When you develop a sales brochure, you have a mental checklist of what needs to be in it. You probably look at brochures from other vendors. You get advice from friends and colleagues. You probably also notice the sales flyers you get in the mail. What do you notice? What gets your attention?

A web site for your business has many of the same purposes as a sales brochure. At the same time, it is more "delicate" and requires more attention. It is technically more advanced and therefore more challenging to design as well as to keep up to date.

Below are 10 things you should conider when developing a web site. These will give you a good start. After reading them, you may be able to add more.

1. Know your audience. You need to know who are the people most likely to look at your site so that you can target that audience. Who are your current and potential customers? What kinds of words or pictures do they respond to? You are more likely to make sales to those who spend time at your site, so you need to make the pitch to your most likely candidates.

2. Learn from the best. Spend some time on the web. Look at your competitors' sites as well as unrelated sites. Discover which presentation you like and what colors work well together. Take note of how easy or hard it is to navigate through the sites. Save the addresses you like so that you can return to them easily (this is called a "bookmark"). The better your web site looks, the more time people will spend with it and the better your chances of increased business or sales.

3. Plan ahead. Once you know your audience (who is most likely to be interested in your product or service) take time to lay out the content of each page and how different pages will link to each other. The more planning you do up front, the easier it will be to get up and running, and the fewer changes you will need to make down the road.

4. Graphics are worth 10,000 pixels. This is a play on the expression, "A picture is worth 1,000 words." Text in different colors can highlight important information. Animation, sound, and video may be important, especially if they are business related. Be aware, however, that if graphics take more than 8 seconds to load, a potential customer may get impatient and move on. On the other hand, the effective and efficient use of graphics can provide a lot of information that will catch people's attention. Potential customers may not take the time to read text, but they can judge quickly from a picture if the product or service will meet their needs.

5. Be a good neighbor. If you want to quote a source, get permission. If some of the ideas you present are not yours, give credit where credit is due. Use disclaimers or disclosures when required or appropriate. This enhances your reputation as a vendor.

6. Connect with the world. Provide links to other sites that sell accessories, add-on, or related products. This will make it easier for them to do get all they need with minimal searching. Try to arrange for reciprocal links. The more ways people can get to your site, the more people will see it.

7. Test your site. Always check your text for errors in both spelling and grammar. Remember that a spell checker will find incorrect spellings but not incorrect usage (i.e., the difference between "its" and "it's"). Also, what you see in one browser may not be what you get in another. You need to make sure that all the fonts, centering, and alignment work. Test uploading times and links with slow modems. While you can't examine every possible computer hardware and software configuration that users might have, the more scenarios your site works well on, the more people will spend time with it.

8. Get outside opinion. Find out what people think about your site. Ask for specifics like colors, fonts, graphics, time to load, and ease of navigation. Receive both positive and negative feedback graciously. Thank people for their suggestion. Remember that you will not be able to please everyone, but the more people who like your site, the more they will recommend it to others.

9. Let people know where you are. Register with search engines. Tell your current and potential customers through phone calls or email. Include your web address on your business cards, letterhead, print ads, and email signature. The best web site in the world will not make money if people don't know it's there.

10. Keep it fresh. Update the content on a timely basis. Use contests and promotion. Conduct surveys and polls where people can vote. Make your web site fun and interactive. Your site should be interesting and constantly refreshed so people will keep coming back to see what's new.

Remember that your web site is an electronic ad for your business. Make certain that it reflects your business well.

© Copyright 2004 by Alicia Smith

Alicia Smith is a Coach and Trainer whose specialty is helping people Make Money Now. She has taught over 70,000 people how to improve their business bottom lines. To learn more about her courses, products and services please email her at [email protected] or visit and


Mizzou alumna uses web design expertise to give back to ...  University of Missouri College of Engineering

Game Design and Interactive Media BA Major  West Virginia University

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