So you want to write your own website? I would suggest a good web page designer and a lot of practice before moving on to a hosted web site with your own URL. What is a URL? It is a website name like SplashPlan.net. But I digress. The technical aspects of your web site are important, but there are many sources for this information. What I want to talk about is the general design of a web site to sell a product, an opportunity, and to support your customers and your distributors’ needs on your website.
The basic design of your website should have a menu of links near the upper-left-hand corner of the page, either along the left side or along the top. The menu will be jumps to various places on your website, major categories. Your home page should begin selling the product, opportunity, or both. The presentations on the website should be kept at a high level with links to more detail should the visitor want to see it. Under the individual page’s presentation should be three links, with the most logical next step first, one where the user will request more information by mail, and one where they can place an order.
Graphics should be kept to a minimum to speed up each page load. Links can be text rather than graphic links. Pictures should be relevant and not frivolous. For instance, a product picture is a good idea but pictures just to support the idea being discussed are not really needed. People use the internet for the information and not the pictures. The text, though, should be well presented and readable. At the bottom of each page I usually include a copyright notice and webmaster email address.
Contact information, frequently asked questions (FAQ), and other information can be presented in major categories. Information to include should be anything that supports the business and its functions, such as providing information that somebody might call to ask. Information about the company’s founders or history should only be included if relevant to supporting the business’s functions.
Having said all of this, most of this represents my own personal preferences. Today most people have high speed internet; however, there are some people that still have dial up, as incredible as this sounds. Including graphics, videos, or other media that takes a while to download may or may not be an issue for your customers. It is important to know who your customers are to make this determination. For instance, we learned that many people shopped our web site over lunch at work, that they typically paid well, and that they were suspicious of paying with their credit card on the web site (in a lot of cases). We gathered a lot of information about our customers and made our overall marketing plan support our customers’ needs.
I am a technology professional by trade, but when it comes to creating a web site, I am an artist first, a salesman second, and a techie third. I pour over my website making little changes here and there on a daily basis. I test all the links over and over again. I create test orders to make sure everything is working. I read and reread my web pages over and over again to make sure there are no spelling errors and that I am getting across the meaning I intend. I get feedback directly from customers by telephone about their experiences. I test with several different browsers to make sure the web site looks and acts right with each one.
After our e-commerce site was in its final condition, I rewrote the pages in perl (a computer language) so I could do various things that maybe someday we’ll talk about.
I don’t think I would ever expect a business person to do the kinds of things I did. Still, writing a web site is easy; making it effective as a sales and business support tool is the hard part.