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The Birth of a Professional Web Site Part Two Your Strategic Web Design Plan

By Shelley Lowery
Posted Friday, October 1, 2004

There are millions of web sites on the Internet today with thousands more being added each day. The competition is fierce and in order to be successful, you must stay one step ahead of the game.

Although designing a professional web site is an important part of your strategic plan, it is only the first step. Before you begin the actual design process, you must first determine your overall strategy and design your web site accordingly.

Internet marketers have basically two choices:

-> Design a mini web site that focuses on just one product or service, with no other content of any kind.

-> Design a content web site that includes not only your products and services, but also information and resources that will be of interest to your target market.

Although both types of sites can be effective, your success ultimately depends on your site design and marketing strategies. Both will play a very important role.

Content Web Sites

Content oriented sites are sites that provide visitors with content, such as articles, tutorials, free ebooks and resources. This type of site attracts their target audience with incentives. Their products and services are mentioned on the main page with a link to further information.

Content sites usually profit by educating their visitors. For example, a content site focusing on dog grooming might provide a basic tutorial to assist their visitors in learning how to groom a dog. They provide this tutorial completely free; however, the main purpose for this tutorial is to educate their visitors and promote their products.

When you provide your visitors with quality information that teaches and informs, you are not only gaining their trust in you by sharing your expertise, but you're also building your credibility, which is very important on the Internet.

The key to using this technique effectively is to provide content that targets your potential customer.

Mini-Sites

Mini-sites are different from content sites, as they don't provide any content. They usually contain one or two pages and completely focus on one product or service. Basically, the site is just a sales letter for the product.

No matter which type of site you design, keep in mind, your web site is a direct reflection of you and your business. The appearance of your web site is the most important factor in determining your web site's value. If your site doesn't look professional or pleasing to the eyes at first glance, it's perceived value will be low. The perceived value of your web site will have a great impact on your success.

On the other hand, you may have a great web site, well designed and a quality product or service, but if it takes too long to load, the value will still be perceived as low. Why? Your potential customer will not wait -- ultimately costing you business.

If you're serious about your Internet business, designing a web site specifically designed to sell your products is an essential part of your success. Everything within your web site should have one specific purpose -- getting your visitors to take action.

Your Strategy

Prior to designing your web site, you must decide on the type of response you're looking for. For example, if you're selling a product, the response you're most-likely trying to achieve is to make a sale. If you're developing a content site, your main goal for every page of your site should be to lead your visitors to your sales page. You can accomplish this in a number of ways, including:

1) Display a graphic image of your product on your main page with a short ad and a link leading to your sales page.

2) Create a "Products" section within the navigational menu of each page with a short description and link to each of your products.

3) Write articles that focus on the same topic as your product. At the end of the article, within your bylines, provide your visitors with information about your product.

4) Write tutorials that target your potential customer. At the end of the tutorial, provide information about your product.

5) Provide your visitors with a free autoresponder course. Your course should identify a problem, provide advice in regard to solving the problem and provide the solution with your products or services. Keep in mind, your course should not be written like a sales letter. It must provide quality information written to teach and inform.

No matter what type of response you're looking for, your site must be specifically designed to achieve your goal.

Every part of your web site must be strategically designed. From your overall design to your sales copy -- each will play a very important role.

Your web site is the most important sales tool you have. A professional web site should be pleasing to the eyes, well organized, easy to navigate, load quickly and be optimized for the Search Engines.

Above all else, you must specifically design your site for your potential customers. Provide them with the information they desire, while continually mentioning the benefits of your products, and you'll reap the rewards.

(Continued in part three)

Copyright © Shelley Lowery 2003.

About the Author:
Shelley Lowery is the author of the highly acclaimed ebook series, Web Design Mastery -- An eight volume (500+ pages) in-depth guide to professional web design. Web Design Mastery is being hailed as the "Bible" for professional web design. (http://www.webdesignmastery.com)