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A recent marketing study by ServiceXRG found that most online shoppers (74.5 percent) use a company Web site to find needed information about products and services. However, less than half (44 percent) said the information provided met their needs and expectations.

Other studies, including by the Nielsen Norman Group show, that only 50 percent of Web visitors scroll down the screen to see what lies below the visible part on their PC monitor. That info highlights the importance of catching and holding the attention of your online consumer with that crucial first impression.

The Two Major Elements of Web Site Success

A Web site has to accomplish only two basic things to deliver success for your business—and, also basic, those two things are mission-critical. A successful Web site must be built from the ground up to attract and capture:

  1. The attention of your target audience
  2. The attention of the major search engines

If you can accomplish these two great things, your Web site business will have excellent prospects for success. If you design a great-looking, user-friendly site with well-written market copy, but your site is not constructed on search-engine-friendly design principles, no one will get the chance to experience your work of art.

If your site is well-built and well optimized, yet the design is boring and amateurish, then your well-placed Web site will drive customers away and just might as well not exist. Every potential customer who either bounces out of your site or can't even find it is another sale for your competitors.

Practical Information for Building a Powerful Presence

Web site success boils down to being easily found in the first pages of the search engine listings and, once found, grabbing and holding the fickle focus of internet shoppers. The Web site design elements and principles that make these two major goals happen are many and are based on industry best-practices and practical marketing principles.

Following are a few key points to keep in mind as you embark on your journey to Web site dominance:

Avoid (like the plague!) templated Web site solutions or cheap overseas Web shops

The adage "you get what you pay for" could not be more relevant in this situation. Templated Web site builders generate sloppy, extraneous coding that is very unfriendly to the search engines, limits programming access to the site, and generally produces a canned, off-the-shelf-looking Web site.

Farming out your Web site project to the lowest overseas bidder can come back to bite you in the business butt. Cultural differences and design practices can become an instant hindrance to your Web sites performance. Communications are also often difficult and industry standards that are common practice in the US are not generally in use overseas.

Choosing an experienced Web development agency to build a custom Web site could be the most valuable investment you make for your business.

Reputable Web design agencies follow the requirements of the W3C, Google webmaster guidelines, and industry best-practices. They use proven marketing and design elements to tailor site design to the target audience, build user-friendly navigation and layouts, and ensure the site functions smoothly in all environments.

Using client conversation, design questionnaires, market research, and other sources of info, your Web designer should partner with you to build from the ground up a Web site that will accomplish those two big Web site goals: attracting and capturing the attention of your ideal customer and the search engines.

Research your market and build with your customer in mind

Get a very clear picture before starting your Web site project of who your ideal customer really is. Web site preferences of look and feel vary according to gender, age, culture, and interests and this information will be incredibly valuable when you design your site.

A Few Tips on Color to Get You Started...

  • Women prefer red and yellow, whereas men like blue and orange. Women also can sense a much greater range of shade variations.
  • Older people tend to like sites that are more conservative, with blue, brown, and gray tones. Young adults and teens are often excited by vibrant colors, contrast, and movement.
  • Colors evoke different feelings in different people. When targeting a market audience in other countries, be sure to research the cultural color beliefs of that group. In the US and Western Europe, the color white signifies purity and blessing. However, in China and Japan, white is bad luck and red is the traditional color of brides.
  • Make sure to use a good contrast between background color and text color. The best choice is a white background with black text. Gray with black text or black with bright text color are also good choices.

* * *

These are just a few Web site fundamentals to consider closely when planning your Web site. Keep the customer always at the forefront of your thoughts when designing your site, with the search engines firmly in mind. Find a well-respected Web design agency to build a custom Web site created with your unique goals and market in mind from the very beginning. Remember that you do get what you pay for and that value and quality, not the lowest bid, should be your focus when planning for long-term Web site success.  

Continue reading "Don't Settle for Web Site Mediocrity" ... Read the full article

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David A. Salinas is CEO of Digital Surgeons ( Reach him via