January 24, 2008
Most articles about doing business online give you a number of tips for success. Certainly you can learn a lot from these articles and many of the tips are useful and important. Right now I will not confuse you with many things to do or remember, rather let’s focus on one point that can make or break your effort to make money online.
In my opinion, the most important aspect of doing well online is to have a professional looking website.
If you are a door to door salesman or a sales person who meets clients face to face, then your appearance and your manner of presentation is a most important factor in determining your ability to sell. When you are trying to sell online, no one knows what you look like or what you are wearing and or what you sound like (unless you include video on your site). For the most part, you will first be judged by what your site looks like.
Most web visitors only spend 30 seconds or less on a web page. In that 30 seconds they judge whether there is information that will be useful to them and they also judge whether this is a serious offer coming from a trustworthy source.
You may ask how can they determine all this in 30 seconds? They will scan the headlines and headers and see what the site is offering and by looking at the design and layout they will form an initial opinion on the trustworthiness of the site. If the site looks like it was designed by your nephew who just learned how to put up a website, then the first impression will not be good.
So, to make a long story short, don’t skimp on design. Get it done by a professional. If you have to pay for this, consider it money well spent because you will get this money back and much more when people visit your website and get the feeling that they are dealing with someone who is a professional. They will go on to buy your products or services, or sign up for your mailing list.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on web design. It is also possible to buy a template and add your content. But even if you are working from a template or using a blog or content management system that utilizes templates, it is still good to take the help of a professional. For example you can have your main banner or logo designed by a designer or you can have an artist or designer tweak your template or content management system so that it looks good.
You may also be wondering, “Once I have a nice design, how am I going to get traffic to my site?” This of course is the next step, but there is one thing that should be remembered: having a good looking site will actually help you to build traffic.
Here is how a good design can help with your traffic building. One of the most important factors in building traffic is achieving high rankings in search engines. Your ranking will depend on many factors, but one of the most important is the number of incoming links to your website from other websites. These incoming links are viewed by Google and other search engines as “votes” for your site. If you have a smart looking, professional site, then there is more chance that your site will gain entry to directories which are edited by human beings (as opposed to the robotic programs which gather data for the search engines). A placement in a directory such as www.dmoz.org can really boost a site’s ranking in the other search engines.
In addition, if your site has good content and a good appearance it is highly likely that people who are building lists and directories of important sites in a particular field will choose your site for their list and mention you as a good resource. If you have a garden supply business, and a snazzy-looking green site then there is a good chance that other people will list it as a resource even without you knowing it. In fact these are the best kinds of links, the links that you get without asking, the links that you get because people look at your site and say, “that is really a great site.” Good design will help you to get more of this type of links.
There are indeed many other things that you have to know about doing business online, but if you neglect this first point of starting with a great design, then you will not be able to reap the benefits of all your other knowledge. So, whatever you do online, take the time and effort and expense of making sure that your website’s design shows that “you mean business.”
Author: Donald Nelson is a search engine optimization specialist and you can find more of his articles at his website: http://www.a1-optimization.com . He is also the editor and publisher of the A1-Article Directory ( http://www.a1-articledirectory.com ), which contains thousands of articles on online business, website promotion and many other related subjects.