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What Separates the "Haves" from the "Have Nots" Online?

By Merle
Posted Friday, July 16, 2004

Who says life is fair? Just as in the "real world," there are those online who just seem to have it all together. Their sites look good, they have brisk traffic,and their customer service is top notch. You can spot a site like this instantly when you stumble across it,as you stand in awe and admiration of one of the Internet"Haves."

So what qualities does a site need to cross over to the "Haves" elite group? There are a few standard components they all share, so pay close attention, and I'll clue you in on their little trade secrets.

1) Good Design and Layout: OK, this may seem like a no-brainer but if you browse around the Net for any length of time, it's obviously not. Many people buy a copy of Front Page and voila -- envision themselves web designers. Many of these sites look like they were put together by a 5-year-old having a bad crayon day. If you don't know enough to put together a decent looking site, please hire someone to do it for you. Nothing will turn your customers off faster then a bad looking site.

Remember to leave plenty of white space, and don't place white type against a black background, please. Don't use more than two or three colors for the entire site,use plenty of catchy titles and headers and keep your paragraphs short, as people read differently online than off. Most just scan pages instead of reading fine detail. For help with your site,check out Web Monkey..... (

2) Good Navigation: You might not think this is too difficult, especially if your website is small. But it can become a real problem as your site continues to grow.

If you use Javascript for your top menu, make sure to include a text link menu at the bottom of each page. This makes it easier for the search engines to index your paqes and for your visitors who may not want to scroll back to the top of the page just to make a new selection.

Make sure you put a title or some other form of indicator on each page or within the menu itself, so your guests know where they are at all times within your site. Keep your menu consistent across all pages of your site (in other words, don't get them lost).You may even wish to include a search function to allow your visitors to find exactly what they are looking for quickly. A good free one is...(

3) Opt-In List: I'm going to say this one time, so listen carefully. If you're going to be doing business online you MUST HAVE a way of collecting your visitors' email addresses and build your own opt-in list. Usually this is done in the form of offering an ezine. An ezine is an electronic newsletter dealing with the topic of your website. For example, someone who sells pet products might start an ezine on pet care tips and tricks.

If an ezine is too much of an undertaking for you, just start a list to notify your guests of updates, sales or specials. Most visitors will not buy from you the very first time they visit your site. You must have a system in place to collect their emails and contact them down the road for a future sale. An ezine helps you to "build relationships" which will lead to increased sales.

4) Update It: If you have graphics, links and forms on your website, make sure they work. Nothing looks more unprofessional then a site loaded with dead links and broken graphics. Keep your site fresh and updated on a regular basis. To check your site for broken links try (

5) Contact Info: This should be simple enough but many times is overlooked. Nothing makes you appear as if you've got something to hide than not including some form of contact information on your site. Try to avoid PO Boxes, as many times they may make people suspicious. Try to offer more then one avenue of communication like an email, phone or fax number. Answer all of your email within 24 to 48 hours or you'll lose customers.

6) Fast Loading: Whatever you do, don't load your site with heavy bloated graphics that take forever to download. Also, take it easy with Flash and animation. Don't make your guests seasick with too many things that shake and move; it's cheesy and makes you look unprofessional. There are many services to help you compress your graphics, like ( or(

7) Who Are You?: One of the biggest mistakes I see site owners making online is not telling your guests who you are and what you do right up front. Web surfers are in a hurry with many places to go and things to see. Tell them in your opening site paragraph what you're all about. They'll appreciate the info and won't scratch their heads wondering what on earth you do. Tell them and tell them fast.

So there you have it. How many of these faux pas are you guilty of? These are basic principles for any successful website. By implementing these qualities into your own site, you too can join the "Haves" of the Internet Community and leave the "Have Nots" behind. And that's one move certainly worth making.

About the Author
Merle is an internet marketer, promotion consultant and ezine publisher. Visit her sites at (, ( and (http;//


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