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A crash course in revamping failing websites

By Robin Porter
Posted Wednesday, December 1, 2004

If you're not getting the hits and sales your desire, then there's probably something amiss with your website.

It's easy to say that I know, and somewhat harder to work out exactly what the problem could be, so let's look at the most common culprits.

Difficult to read text - I'm not just talking about colored backgrounds either. If your text is all over the place, or spans the width of the screen, it's going to be difficult to read, and it doesn't much matter if your selling $50 bills for a dollar - visitors will abandon your site.

Clear message - Does your website copy ramble on or is it clear and to the point. The key here is focus - focus on what you want from the visitor. If you're trying to make a sale, demonstrate your product , show him the benefits and how it'll change his life and lead him gently by the hand. Rambling on loses sales.

Good layout and design - I've heard many people say that copy is king. Well, if you've got a third rate design, which looks like a fourteen year old with one weeks HTML experience knocked it up, you ain't going anywhere. The Internet is one place where people do "judge a book by it's cover", so if you're hoping visitors will part with their cash, you'd better project a professional image. And that means a good looking website. Look at similar sites to establish a baseline for design standards, and try to make that your minimum goal. If you do your own design, and you're not confident, then get someone else to do it if you seriously want to make a decent living online. Your website's design will project the same image on your business - sloppy, basic design =sloppy, basic business. Fresh, professionally design equals - you get the message!

Website architecture -getting a bit advanced now, but if the mechanics aren't quite right, you may be handicapping yourself from getting decent website listings. This is hard to spot if you don't know what you're doing, but if you've repeatedly been failing to get decent listings, it might be time for a once over from a professional.

Clear ordering process - is it easy to order from your site? Yes, I know you can figure it out, but how about getting someone who isn't familiar with it to take a look? Do you accept credit cards? There are only a very few instances where a website will work without them.

Marketing -once you've got your site looking hot and working great, the hard work really begins! Marketing is an ongoing process -don't leave it to chance by relying on search engines, and don't think for a minute it's something you do for a day or two after your site's launched and then forget about it. You need to market , using methods that will be effective for your business model, and that will be within your budget. In short, you need a marketing plan that you can follow day in day out.

A quick guide to coming up with a plan is as follows:

First, make sure you are totally "au fait" with your target market and the market within which your business operates. Next, have a brainstorming session where you write down every method you can think of to market your business, however crazy or impractical they seem. (The technique of Mind Mapping is great for this). Next, go through each method thoroughly, and decide if it would be suitable for your business, and is within your budget. Finally, compile all the workable techniques into a master plan , that you can refer to regularly.

Compiling a marketing plan does rely on a thorough knowledge of Internet marketing, so if you're unsure it's worth seeking the help of a professional, as it can really focus your efforts and be the difference between success and failure.

If you decide to go it alone, and follow all the above yourself, do try and read up on everything you can on the subject. Remember you're competing against professionals, and there's nothing wrong with seeking the help of one from time to time

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