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Tune Up Your Website for Maximum Profits

By Marty Foley
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004

This article was written to help fellow web marketers avoid a "deadly" blunder I made some time ago.

If the purpose of your web site is to make money, the most important job you have in connection with it is marketing. Like the saying goes: "Everything is marketing."

The cosmetic aspects of your site are less important than the message(s) delivered through its content. This is proven by the fact that some plain looking sites earn much more profit than some of their more eye-dazzling counterparts.

This doesn't mean that how your site looks is unimportant. While blinking and animated graphics, flashing text and other "bells and whistles" aren't necessary for maximum profitability, and may sometimes detract from it, at least for credibility's sake, looks are important.

Let me share with you how I learned this lesson the hard way, and how to avoid the same mistake. (This can benefit you whether you create your own web pages, or hire it out to others.)

My web site has been profitable for some time now. But to improve its looks and navigability, I redesigned most of its pages, and was proud of how they looked when I finished.

Boy, was I in for a surprise!

One day I took a look at my site from the computer at a local library... and UGH! What looked great on my own system didn't look so good on another. I had overlooked the fact that the same web site can look very different on other computers, based on various factors such as the type of browser used, which version of the same browser, the screen resolution and other configuration settings.

This meant back to the drawing board. Here's how I fixed the problem and how your site can benefit from the lessons learned:

1) First I uploaded a private test page that I planned to use as a master template for correcting other pages on my site.

2) I went to a few sites that offer diagnostic services to find out what was ailing the code of the test page.

The following web sites will perform 'house calls' on your site, testing for errors in your HTML code and giving instant check-up results. Their basic services are free. All you do is type in the URL and click a button.

(I suggest that you print out a copy of this article so you will have the following resources on hand for future reference.)



3) I kept fine-tuning the code of my test page and running a check-up through one or both of the above sites to improve test results. (Keep in mind that some diagnostic results may be inaccurate on rare occasions.)

4) Once the HTML code was tuned into shape, testing for viewing compatibility with various types of browsers came next. I've found the following sites to be very helpful:



Testing my site revealed that minor (but important) modifications were needed for better browser compatibility. Inviting feedback from site visitors was also very helpful in this.

Since there are many different types of browsers in use, concentrate on making sure your pages look decent in the most commonly used ones. Remember Pareto's Principle, better known as the 80/20 Rule: Roughly 20% of the elements will produce 80% of the results, and vice versa.

Due to the fact that Internet Explorer and Netscape control the lion's share of the browser market, make compatibility with versions of these two a top priority.

5) Once the code was tuned for best viewing in the most commonly used browsers, one final HTML code check-up on my test page confirmed that no errors had crept in from my tinkering. I then used it as a template to correct other pages on my site.

Of the many visitors my site had before I corrected the problems, I wonder how many of them had a less than optimal viewing experience because of the way my site looked in their browsers, and may never return again as a result?

Let me recap some important lessons learned:

Never assume that your web site also looks good in browsers other than your own. You might be surprised at the difference!
Check your site's HTML code and compatibility with other browsers through tools such as suggested above, and by asking visitors for feedback.
Tweak and fine-tune your pages, test, get feedback, and test again!
Once your site looks decent in at least the most popular browsers, you can THEN focus your attention on the most important aspect of a profitable web site: MARKETING.

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