|Your Web Site:
First Impressions are Everything
By Diane Standish
This may seem very basic, but if your site isn't pulling
the traffic or generating the sales you would like it to,
it just may not be the poor performance of classified ads,
banner ads or a similar service. The real reason for lackluster
sales could lie with your web site itself.
Telling someone their site has a lot of design problems is
not a very popular stance, particularly if that someone just
spent thousands of dollars to have it designed for them. Or,
if they gave up their nights and weekends to write it themselves.
The fact of the matter is, however, that the vast majority
of emails I get regarding lack of sales and consequent complaints
about other sites whose 'banner ads don't perform' or 'classified
ads don't work' have much more to do with my prospective customers'
poor web site design than the ad or banner service they're
blaming. Not popular, I know, but critical analysis is just
This is one of the reasons why tracking statistics software
is essential to the health of a site. The site owner can track
exactly what's happening with an ad campaign and see for him
or herself what ads are working and how long someone stays
at a page. If a page gets lots of hits, but no one stays more
than a moment, chances are the page is suffering from the
slow load blues and no amount of advertising will generate
One of the most common errors I see when analyzing other sites
is, unfortunately, what a new site owner wants most - lots
of graphics. Big, beautiful, full color images; spinning graphics
everywhere; animated images at every corner and on every line;
jumping, bouncing, flashing, bubbling images next to every
paragraph. Great fun, but the more images on a page and the
larger the size of the file, the longer it will take to load.
Try to remember not everyone out there has a 56k modem hooked
up to their 400 MhZ, 164 MB RAM CPU.
Think content. A few images will spice up a page, and enable
you to "hide" valuable keywords for search engine placement,
but too many large image files will send your visitor surfing
before they even know what a great product you have to offer.
A good rule of thumb: keep images under 12k and try to keep
each page limited to 5 or less files. A page should load in
15 seconds or less with a 28.8k modem. Again, it's content,
not cool, that will keep your visitors from moving on, and
keep them coming back once they've found an interesting site.
For instance, a customer wrote me and explained that he had
spent a lot of money having a web site written for him, but
he wasn't making any sales. He wanted to start a progressive
advertising campaign to promote the site.
However, when I visited his site I knew immediately that any
advertising dollars would be completely wasted. Images the
size of the Grand Canyon covered every inch of every page,
and what was worse, no image size specs (height, width) were
specified in the HTML. The pages were filled with very nice,
but very large photos, and very little text content. Even
on my top of the line system, his site suffered from slow
loading, big time. No matter what promotional campaign he
undertook, and no matter how much money he spent, he'd never
make a sale with his expensive site. Any visitors in their
right mind would leave his site long before ALL those truck
loads of images loaded.
Bottom line: think content; keep it simple; avoid too many
images; avoid too many photos; keep animation simple - and
limited. Don't talk your web designer into putting a lot of
large image files on your pages. Then, and only then, plan
your advertising campaign. And then, keep updating your site's
content to make it dynamic, interactive and attractive to
repeat visitors. If your site never changes, if your content
is never updated, what's the incentive for a visitor (translate
customer) to keep returning?
Source: "Diane Standish is Publisher of the eCave NetGazette.
She has 15 years of marketing experience, both off and online
in computer and business services, and is founder and President
of a multi-million dollar service business. Visit her site,
eCave Internet Services, at http://www.ecave.com"
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