Internet Marketing: Advice on design
As competition in cyberspace becomes ever more ruthless; it's essential to get things right first time. Online shoppers aren't known for their patience and will use any number of excuses to click away from your site and be lost for good. If you're new to internet marketing; you may still think that it's something of a mysterious alchemical art, but when it comes to overall design; nothing beats good old fashioned common sense.
So what's the best bit of internet marketing advice? If something about a website annoys you; then it's bound to annoy somebody else. Steer clear of the following common blunders and you'll be well on the road to cyber success:
Slow loading pages: One guaranteed way to loose business is to keep your customers waiting. Pages should be kept as small as possible (ideally less than 20K) which means cutting down on images, frames, tables and investing in reliable hosting.
Empty homepages: With information zipping around the World Wide Web at the speed of light, it defies logic that anybody would want to land on a homepage that gives no indication of the site's actual content. Homepages boasting little more than a corporate logo might be infuriating, but pale in comparison to tedious flash introductions (which most visitors miss anyhow as they are busy looking for the 'Skip Intro' button).
Broken links: Electronic cul-de-sacs are a turn-off for both shoppers and search engines alike. Today there are numerous services (such as Link Defender) designed to take the mouse-work out ensuring that all your links are intact.
Pop-Ups: Annoying at the best of times, pop-ups that follow your cursor around the screen are enough to raise blood pressure to perilous levels. However, the worst part is that they are astonishingly ineffective as internet marketing tools.
The hard sell: Potential customers are much more likely to reach for their credit cards if can subtly convince them of your product's value. Build up products with related articles and testimonials and steer clear of overblown 'miraculous' product claims. Honesty goes a surprisingly long way in the world of internet marketing.
Hidden extras: There's a rather unattractive breed of electronic storekeeper that believes every single cent should be squeezed out of the customer, even if it means that they never come back. Arguably the most short-sighted strategy is to charge phenomenal sums for packaging and shipping.
Sloppy English: There's really no excuse!
Font frenzy: Downloading an entire suitcase of fonts into your web pages will only serve to confuse readers. If you need any further proof just pick up a book or a magazine and you'll be able to count the fonts on one hand (possibly one finger). The same goes for colors, have you tried reading red text on a black background?
Registration access: Some misled web developers believe it's more important to beef up their mailing list than to actually get people in through their front door. Surfers are becoming increasingly savvy and can smell a rat a mile off.
No way back: Putting a redirect to the same page isn't big and it isn't clever. If the customer can get back to where they came form; the only option left is to close the page.
Contact: If you want customers to trust you; let them know where you are. A physical address, rather than a PO Box number, will go a long way to allaying any concerns.