Webdesign Tips

By: Quintessence


How much does it cost to put a business on the Internet? Much has been written on this issue by people who like to be paid for adding URLs to search engines, for technical design, to design banner ads, etc. But one big misconception is to expect a successful Internet presence to be created overnight. Many businesses hire expensive technical specialists in order to create an Internet presence quickly, only to become dependent on such specialists. Initially, such businesses typically envisage specialists only to be necessary to build up a site in a few days, but in many cases, such specialists will still be working on the site many months later.

Instead, it may take months, even years to build up a successful presence on the Internet. Nevertheless, a successful presence on the Internet can quite easily be built up without incurring much cost, if one is prepared to spend time on it. Most things can be done without specific technical skills, it may only cost a bit or sometimes a lot of time, but doing things yourself will also save you a lot of money.

If you operate a business, consider this:

  1. Do you want a site? Take the Step and set up a site yourself!
  2. Think about Site Content - think things through before you start!
  3. Once you've got the main content in place, add some extra features!
  4. Design and Re-design your Site! Keep improving and updating things!
  5. Measure things, check statistics!
  6. Become part of networks with similar interests!

1. Take the Step and set up a site yourself!

Many of the services through which you have access to the Internet (ISPs), also give you capacity for your own pages. It's often there, unused by the many people who pay their ISP a monthly amount. One problem is that the URLs associated with those pages will be part of the ISP's domain name. That means that, if you changed to another ISP, the URLs wouldn't work anymore. Therefore, you should get your own dedicated URL. You can get a free site at a place such as Geocities and you will also have great online tools there to build a site. But such a site typically is advertising-supported, you may need to login and change things to keep your site alive, and such a free site comes with someone else's domain name. The best solution is to get your own domain name, if not for yourself, then just out of marketing considerations for your business, even if you initially only used it to receive email. Yes, a domain name is not just about a site, it also gives you email addresses. Getting a site with a recognisable name, preferably using your own domain with a .com root, is not just a question of prestige or vanity, it also serves genuine purposes of credibility and security. It is as important as having letterheads, business cards and an office address.

At GoDaddy, you can register a .com domain name for $7.95 per year, which includes forwarding of email to your existing address and have the domain name point to your site of choice, e.g. with your current ISP.

Many businesses demand lengthy cost justifications before starting with something like a website. Yes, a lot of hours can and probably will go into creation of pages and graphics, technical design and marketing, before any sales will be made. If you try and do everything yourself, then at least you have things in your own hands and you will also learn the necessary skills in the process. Look at it this way: if you are a shopkeeper, you will have to know how the telephone works, how to plug in a vacuum cleaner, how to operate a barcode reader, etc. The best way to learn all this is by doing it yourself!

So, instead of balancing the cost of employing professionals against projections of future profits, get over it! Put your business on the Internet yourself and don't expect this to be profitable for, say, one year. If you after one year conclude that you do need to spend some money on technical assistance or marketing, at least you will know exactly what you want!
 

2. Think about Site Content!

Ask yourself what people could be looking for. People may send you an email asking for more information. Anticipate this by having standard replies ready! Put yourself in the position of a potential customer. What would you be looking for? How would you like to be welcomed at a site?

What can you offer to people who visit your site? Do you have information that is hard to get elsewhere? You must have something to offer, something that people may be looking for, or something that may somehow assist them. Marketing is the obvious reason for creating pages. But this doesn't mean that pages with order forms should be all that your site offers. Concentrate on content in the widest sense, including prices, product manuals, service information, technical specifications, warrenty conditions, contract clauses, disclaimers, instructions, updates, etc. Content is King, it's the most important reason why people visit a site.

Information about your products and services is content that people may come looking for. Make it as easy as possible for people to find such information, make such information the main content of your index page, while linking to other pages, such as ordering forms, in a non-intrusive way for marketing purposes.

Create a front page that says exactly what the site is about, what the benefits are of what you offer, what the advantages of your site are over any competition. The point where you have an edge should feature high on your frontpage. This means it should be displayed prominently at the top of the page. Prove that you know your product or area of interest! Add links to free advice, tips, ideas, etc. If you have nothing better to offer than what a dozen other sites are offering, than you are in trouble. Think and rethink where you differ, specialize if necessary. Above all, make clear what your site offers! Pricing is one area where you may have an edge.

Be open about such information, especially regarding prices! Make your pricing policy clear. Try to keep things simple, e.g. charge $US 5.- P&H cost worldwide and make P&H free for any order over $US 100.- People generally do not like to spend minutes working out the costs. If you are cheaper than the competition and if you have a simple pricing policy, then people will remember your prices and remember that you were cheaper, if they ever try out the competition.

Once you have got the above two points right, you can start thinking about additional points. Some examples are:

  • Add photos of your products, add more product information.
  • Add a page with a photo of yourself, your email address, your personal details. Many people appreciate such a personal touch.
  • Create a newsletter that you allow people to subscribe to, with tips and news about your products, your services or your area of interest. Invite people to give feedback and to send in text that can be added to the newsletter.
  • Add some funny stories, nice pictures, some entertainment, preferably some information that people cannot get elsewhere, this will also make people remember your site.
  • Also consider using third-party facilities for online orders and payments processing. Shopping carts allow customers to combine their purchases into a single order and payment.

Keep in mind that any addition will cost time. Measure the popularity of such additions to justify continuation. Keep in mind why you set up the site - don't let the additions become the main focus of your attention! Remember what your site is about. Is your main aim to sell a product? Or are you selling advertisement space? Or do you just aim to make your site popular, in order to sell it later? Whatever the purpose is of your site, do not charge for the entertainment that you add to attract visitors. People dislike paying for such extra entertainment, especially if they don't know in advance what they are going to be paying for. Give free access to your site and to such entertainment. History shows that it is hard to get people to pay for entertainment, but people are prepared to accept advertisements as the price of being entertained. If you want to make people pay for some items, at least make a substantial part of what you offer available for free and let people pay only if they want more or extra. This means offering free content, free services, free facilities, I repeat FREE, FREE, FREE! If you have nothing to offer for free, you can add contests, giving prizes to those who answer questions correctly, etc, etc. Approach suppliers and say that you want to advertise vouchers on your site, give discounts to people who mention a word that is changed, say, each week, so that people return to your site to get the word of the week if they want another discount, say, on long distance telephone calls, petrol, books, CDs or other things that most people buy. Team up with other suppliers, in order to give free advice, etc. Put lots of links on your site to other sites that may have information that you are not providing on your site. Create a facility on your site allowing people to add links to their own sites!

People visit websites for all kinds of reasons, they may come looking for specific details, or they may just be browsing and surfing, popping in expecting to find something interesting and leaving again after shortly glancing over a page if they do not immediately find it.

Such occasional visitors could become good customers if you do have something to offer. Again, content is what could keep such visitors at your site for longer than one or two seconds. Try out things that could be interesting for the occasional visitor, such as details about people working in the industry, tips, news, etc as long as it is free. Below, some extra features are mentioned that can spice up your site.
 

3. Extra Features

Navigation tips, features and facilities:

Navigational links
With frames, you can display links to major pages on the left-hand side. But consider not using frames - simply add links at the top and/or bottom of pages. Be consistent! Either use frames throughout your site or not! Use the same links in the same order. Text links are quicker than icons. show a change in color for visited links!
 
Google  
The Web   The Optionality Network 
Index page
Your index page (yourdomain.com) should feature links to all major pages on your site. It should be the main point of entry to your site and should clarify what the site is about and what it has to offer
 
Tree View
A dedicated page with a site map is recommended, but it may require a lot of maintenance if your site changes frequently. You may want to start with one page that shows your site's major pages, and where they are located within your site.
 
Site Search
The above search panel is a free site search facility offered by Google. You can set it up to cover one or more of your domains.
 

Use groups for interaction, linking and feedback:

Discussion Forum
A discussion forum can greatly enhance FAQs. Visitors can be allowed to post and their messages will be kept in a public archive, while they can always delete their own messages. Questions, discussions, complaints, requests, etc, an archive like Optionality Messages can be a valuable asset. Make sure people can choose to post and read messages either by email or on the web.
 
Personal Messages
Invite people to post a message to you personally. New members can automatically be set to moderated, so you can simply take note and delete a personal message, and it will never reach the archive or other members. You can be notified of pending messages, so you can respond immediately. Approved messages are kept in a public archive, so they can be referred to later, while members can always see and, if they want, delete their own messages.
 
Uploads
Public folders can be created where members can upload photos or files, while in private folders only the creator can add or delete photos and files. You can be notified of uploads, so that you can respond immediately. All messages, files and photos are kept in public archives, so they can be referred to later, while members can always see and, if desired, delete their own files and photos.
 
Sign-up box
Allow visitors to join your group, so they can receive your newsletter by email. Tell them they can also join by sending an email to mailto:optionality@yahoogroups.com and that they can get the source code to add the sign-up box to their own site.
 
Subscribe to Optionality
Powered by groups.yahoo.com
Welcome messages
On joining, people can be automatically sent an email message and selected files, e.g. explaining how they can post (or delete) messages, upload photos, etc, and inviting them to send a message to introduce themselves, not only to you, but to all members of the group.
 
Chat
An example is the Optionality Chatroom. You can announce at the group when you will be available in the chatroom and what the theme of the discussions will be. It's great to get a celebrity or an expert to join in!
 
Mailing Lists, Newsletters
Use groups such as at Yahoo to send out a regular newsletter, to keep people up to date with changes at your site, new features, etc. Display a link at appropriate places at your site to allow people to join or change settings
 
Allow others to link!
Allow people to either add links or post a message with details. You can check your group from time to time to see if there are any links you would like to display at your site. Announce such site updates at the group!
 
Interaction
Allow people to vote in polls and surveys. An example is, what would you like to see more at this site?
 
Calendar
An example is the Calendar at the Optionality group. Use it to announce chatroom appearances, site updates, conclusion of polls, and other upcoming events.
 
Database
Create a database with specific variables people can enter. An example is the Database at the Optionality group. You can allow members to enter or delete (their own) data, such as times, dates and locations of events.
 

Promotional tools and facilities:

Create further sites
Consider setting up complementary sites that link to your site. As an example, PageTV is a separate site with up-to-date newsfeeds and links to articles, inviting visitors to go to discussions and to join newsletters and mailing lists. You can register new domains or transfer existing domains to Godaddy.com, and you can have them point to a page at your site (masked if you want).
 
Autoresponders
You can register a new domain or transfer an existing domain to Godaddy.com and select their free email forwarding facility. Then, tick the box for autoresponder and enter a text, which will be automatically returned to anyone sending a message to that email address. It's great for updates of events, pricelists or the most recent copy of a newsletter.
 
Networking
Adding links to other sites on a reciprocal basis is an inexpensive way of networking. You promote their site and they do the same for you. Find sites that have common ground and that can complement your site! See above for the use of groups to allow visitors to add links and post messages.
 
Special Interests
Add pages to your site on specefic topics. They can deliver extra visitors and promotional opportunities. It's great if you can find interests that compliment the primary purpose of your site. Check traffic statistics to see what works and what doesn't.
 
Awards and prizes
Allow visitors to rate your site, e.g. at Awards. You can also allow visitors to nominate their own sites, e.g. for the Best-site-award.com. You can also offer prizes, e.g. for ideas that improve your website.
 
Webrings
Go to Webring to join and create webrings. It's a free way to promote your site, while you can also earn money by allowing selected sites to feature at your own rings.
 
Free Stuff
Many sites offer links to free stuff. The Free Stuff area at the Optionality Network has many links. Visitors can win a Palm III by recommending the page with promotion tips. For further free stuff tips, join the Free List at Topica.
 
Search Engines
Submit the URL of your site to search engines and make sure that all your pages are linked to directly or indirectly from that main page, then the robots sent by search engines will do their job of collecting data on all these pages. For more details on this, go to search engines page.
 
Reviews and Affiliate Programs
People who are interested in books, movies, etc, may buy them from your site, if you have reviews. Affiliate programs such as by Amazon.com allow you to earn commissions for referrals. You can use a group to allow people to make comments and suggestions regarding reviews.
 

4. Design and Re-design your Site!

Navigation and Functionality

The first big issue is navigation. The paradox is that it may require a lot of thinking, resulting in quite a complex site design, all in order to make navigation easy. People dislike making unexpected 4-pages deep journeys when they expect to find something through a single click. Complicated navigation is not the result of the complexity of the site, but of bad design, sometimes it even is the deliberate result of the site-designer wanting to make visitors see things that they didn't really ask for. Don't do this! This is worse than upfront advertising - it is promotion by stealth. People who dislike advertising generally dislike this even more. Get friends to test your site - what may be obviously clear to you may not be so for the average visitor. Consider making a tree-view of your site. The first priority should be to put the customer first.

Extra features such as mentioned above can attract more visitors to your site. But if such extra features are only added for their entertainment value, they may irritate visitors who come looking for specific things. Ensure that such additions do not create navigation problems or create unnecessary delays or distractions. Again, it may take some sophisticated site design to create easy navigation through your site, e.g., it may take the complexity of duplicate pages. You may have to create many different ways in which people can navigate your site, one short path that is strictly business and numerous other avenues for people who like to see more.

Similarly, it takes some sophistication in site design to maintain clarity about what the site is about. Many sites feature a panel at the left-hand side of each page with links to other pages that are part of the site. The immidiate viewing area of many screens is limited to a width of 640 pixels. Put a standard 468-pixels-wide-banner in the right-hand panel and there is not much width left in the left-hand panel. Alternatively, such links could be spread out over the full width of the page, either at the top or at the bottom. Repeating such links on subsequent pages is helpful, it gives people some stability in navigation. Also, once the associated icons have been loaded for the first time, subsequent pages load faster. But all this does not apply to first time visitors who leave after taking a glance at only one or two pages. Also, such links take away 'real estate' on each page. Think such issues through!

If extra features add entertainment value, that is a bonus, but keep in mind why people come to your site. Is entertainment the main purpose of your site? Games, jokes, funny pictures may attract some people, but they can be regarded as distractive by more serious visitors. Also, such features must be updated frequently to attract return visitors. A novelty wears off quickly, especially if it adds extra loading or navigation time. Choose extra features for their functionality, rather than for entertainment!

Fast Loading

It is imperative that pages load fast. In many cases, pages do not load fast, not properly or not at all. Many people surf the WEB using old computers with little RAM, slow processors and old browsers. Java, frames and large pictures may frustrate visitors - they will go elsewhere before they have even seen what is on the page. They may never return to your site! This may not immediately show up in statistics, you may see many hits, without realizing that few visitors have even read any text on your index page. Make sure that at least the index page loads fast. Give choices and warnings if visitors are about to face long loading times.

  • Simplicity
    Start without any fancy stuff! Keep pages and GIFs small. Many people dislike frames, they can slow things down and can mess things up. If you use backgrounds in tables, be aware they may not be visible in all browsers, but if you get the order of things right, that doesn't have to be a problem. Use multiple tables, so that the top table loads first and gives people something to read, rather than putting the whole page in one big table. Flash and Java can take a long time to load. Javascript is not visible in MSIE 3.0 and lower, but can be faster than Java and is also perceived to be safer. Although it helps understanding such technicalities, design is also a question of taste. Again, try things out, perhaps also loading and viewing pages with different browsers and modem speeds.
  • Multiplicity and Choice
    If you do want to use things like photos, audio, midi, Java applets, frames, style-sheets or DHTML, try not to do so on the index page and give visitors choices, e.g. whether they want the full details or just a brief background. Give people warnings, e.g. mention the size of a .wav file, so that people know it may take a while if they choose to open it. If you use frames, make frameless pages the default. Check statistics over some time to see what is popular. Cookies may give you extra insight, but do not send cookies to visitors who do not want them! Consider making different versions for different browsers if you do want to include more complicated things.
  • Check your pages
    Try out browser and platform compatibility on your own computer or do it online. A site like AnyBrowser allows you to test your site in various screen sizes, and for different browsers. Also do a HTML Validation check. Most importantly, ask visitors for feedback on how they experience your site.

    HTML Validation
    W3.org
    html help
    Screen size test
    AnyBrowser
    Browser compatibility
    Bobby
    NetMechanic
    Search Engine Position
    SiteInspector
    Check Links
    W3
    NetMechanic
    Loading time
    GIF Wizard
    NetMechanic
    GIF optimisation
    GIFBot
    GIF Wizard
    Search engine submission
    bCentral
    SiteInspector


    There are many sites offering free online tools. Check a few of them, they frequently change, so the links here may not be up to date. Also check search engines to see how high your site ranks and who links to you. Use the similar pages tool at Google to see how other sites have done it! Other helpful sites are HTML help, Website Garage, Net Mechanic, Site Inspector and Site Owner. Check for HTML validity, broken links, spelling, load times, server performance and other technical details. Use services as offered by bCentral to check your site's ranking at search engines, to see who links to you, to check spelling, create metatags and to add a free counter that measures traffic. Optimize source code by taking out redundant parts and reducing the file size of graphics. Use NetMechanic or GifWizard to shrink the file size of your GIFs! A survey can show how much you can improve loading time! Try filling in your site's URL and click the button below!
Artistic Design

Apart from the technical design, the artistic design is important. Things should be clear even for first-time visitors. Many visitors will only glance at a page and move elsewhere if they do not immediately find something of interest to them. The following points may help to smooth navigation:

  • Firstly, make each page easy to read. Split a page up into two pages if necessary. Be short and concise, avoid unnecessary text;
  • As an example, this very article is quite long. Many sentences are long and complex. That would be a big problem on an index page. Constantly try to refine your pages, correct spelling errors, say things in easier ways, take out duplications and redundant parts, etc;
  • Give your site appeal and good looks, e.g. by adding a small and catchy icon that is repeated on each page;
  • Clicking on this icon could bring the user to a home or index page or a page that gives an overview of your entire site;
  • Make sure that the letters are large enough to be readible, black or navy letters on white or light-yellow background work best;
  • Ensure that the top part of each page clarifies what the page is about;
  • Try out various ways to position text and icons on a page, e.g. paragraphs, breaks, lines, no-break-spaces, repeated small transparent gifs and tables;
  • Choose a consistent look and layout for pages, including font type, size and color, background, use of tables;
  • Repeat the same icons, photos, buttons, banners, lines and background gifs or jpgs as much as possible, not only for reasons of consistency, but also for faster loading. Repeat the catchy icon so that visitors will remember it when they see it at another Website that has linked to you.

5. Marketing Issues: promotion and popularity

How is success of a site measured? Many will regard the bottomline to be the profits that result from having a website. But on the Internet, few sites make profits (yet). A site such as Amazon.com has become an empire worth billions without yet making any significant profits. Success is more often measured in terms of name recognition, reputation, popularity, etc. These factors contribute to asset appreciation, which may be more lucrative that immediate revenues.

Many people measure the success of their sites in terms of the number of visits that pages receive or the number of links that are made to their pages on other sites. Another measure is search engine ranking. Having your own domain name will help achieving a higher listing with many search engines. You will still have to enter your site name and URL in as many search engines as possible and do so repeatedly. For a higher listing, the choice of the URL, the site name, the titles of pages and whether specific words appear on pages is all important. Make sure you've got the Meta Tags right, incorporate 'keywords' and 'description' in the code of each page. See Quintessence's Search Engines Tips for more details.

Search engines can also give you an indication how often your site name is mentioned on other sites, as well as the number of links to your site from other sites. In some cases, you will have to pay search engines and other services to get a top spot. So, you may want to set some money aside for marketing and get into an arrangement with someone who knows about search engines to spend this money as efficiently as possible. If you need to use a technical person to check the code of each page and to submit your pages with search engines, consider paying that person a fixed amount every month, but only if your pages do show up consistently among the top ten URLs at, say, five out of the top ten search engines. It's a good idea to subscribe to the Search Engines Email List.

To further measure the popularity of your site, keep track of statistics, especially:

  • Traffic to your site (number of hits per page);
  • The IP addresses of the visitors (are the same visitors viewing multiple pages, are they returning or are they only looking at the index page and never come back?);
  • Email messages received (same thing, check if people keep writing and why they are writing: complaints or praise?);
  • Number of email addresses on your mailing list (churn?);
  • Number of messages posted on your discussion board (same posters?);
  • Number of messages left in your guestbook (is this page popular?);
  • Number of responses to email forms;
  • Errors (did people request to view a page without success?).

The following points may also help you attract more visitors:

  • Follow up suggestions, requests, complaints, etc. Check things out yourself.
  • Regularly check if all links and facilities still work.
  • Check other sites for new ideas.
  • Set some time and money aside for promotional purposes, e.g. to create banner ads, to check search engine listings and other facilities such as netword, etc.
  • Include a 'how to link to this site'-page, complete with icons and banners, such as the sign-up box for the Optionality group. Give prizes and rewards to other sites that link to you. You can join partnership schemes or affiliates programs such as Linkshare and Clicktrade that also help with financial transactions and give you helpful statistics showing where visitors came from, thus allowing you to tailor your marketing efforts.
  • You can add further instructions to help sites link to you, and for further help ask them to fill in a form with their URL, email address and preferred ID. Tell other sites that link to your pages, to add an ID, e.g., PageTV could use the link http://www.optionality.net/quintessence?PageTV to link to Quintessence. Statistics may then show which referral sites bring in most visitors, and you can give rewards to the, say, top three referring sites, which should show up in the referral URLs of the statistics offered by your host.
  • If this fits in with your site, create your own award, or hold contests, add puzzles, give prizes and otherwise reward people for visiting your site. Design special icons and allow visitors to submit nominations for, say, best site on the Net. Submit your award to sites that list such awards;
  • Try to win awards for your own site. Register with contests, directories, what's-new sites, etc. Encourage visitors to vote for your site as the best site on the Net.
  • Reward visitors with prizes for filling in questionnaires, opinion polls and surveys. People can actually help you by voting for the best features of your site, by answering questions, etc. People may pay a return visit to your site or join your mailing list, in order to be in the draw for a prize and to find out if they have won a prize. As an example, visitors can win a Palm III for recommending the page with promotion tips!
  • Visit other sites and leave your URL in guestbooks, fill in cgi mailforms, spread your email address around, etc. Participate in mailing lists, newsgroups and forums. Add a footer to each email you send and each message that you post. Use filtering and forwarding to sort out the junk-mail.
  • Enter into link and banner-exchange agreements, just search for compatible sites and approach them. Many sites have such programs.
  • Create one or more pages where you keep links of interesting sites. This will attract traffic and give you reciprocal links. See the ways to link as mentioned above! Use anchors such as the one pointing to ways to link on your pages, that will allow others to link directly from their page to a specific section on your page.
  • Create further sites that point to your site. Note that many search engines own or are linked to providers of free sites!

In the end, however, all the tricks in the book do not help, if your site has nothing to offer what people want. One of the best and easiest ways to measure popularity and to check if things work, is by simply asking people. Encourage people to give feedback!
 

6. Become part of networks!

Existing customers may know how to find your site, but many if not most newcomers will have to find you through search engines, directories or links at other sites. Simply budgeting for some advertising may not work in this case, you may need to put some effort into getting others to link to you, in order to make your site more visible.

Most businesses are parts of networks. The retailer depends on the wholesaler. The wholesaler depends on the manufacturer. Each of them use accountants and legal advisors. There may be separate distributors, separate companies that look after marketing, computing, staff appointments, etc. All this combines into networks that include many people who have day-to-day contact, yet who work in different companies.

It may make sense to emulate such a network on the Internet, thus offering quick ways to find other people, place orders, track sales records and keep up-to-date with developments. However, from the customer perspective, it does not make much sense to surf through pages of such a network. The network may well keep its most sensitive data on an intranet, hidden from the outside world. Moreover, someone who is looking for, say, a videorecorder, will only get confused and frustrated within such a network. Such a customer is not interested in who provides the legal services to the retailer that sells videorecorders. Such a customer is not interested in who designs the advertisements for that retailer. Such a customer is even less interested in who cleans the kitchen at the factory where one of the videorecorders is made that is offered for sale by the retailer.

When joining a network that is publicly accessible, a business should take the customer perspective. Customers like to go to places that feature many of the things they are looking for, browse and surf to see if there is anything they like, compare prices, sales conditions, delivery times, etc.

  • If you are an interest group, you may want to join a network of like-minded sites;
  • If you are a retailer, consider joining an online mall that offers products that are similar to what you offer;
  • If you provide services, seek other service providers that could enhance and complement your services.

Don't be afraid that customers will end up with your competitors. If you're offering a good service, such comparisons will only strengthen your name with existing customers. Respect first-time visitors - they don't like to be told what to do, they want to browse and compare things and make up their own mind as to what the better choice is. Take the time to point out why your products and services are indeed the better choice, even if it takes you several pages to explain that in detail. Don't be afraid to admit if some competititors are better in some respects, as long as there are points where you have an edge. People appreciate someone who tells the whole story! By presenting yourself amidst competitors, you display the confidence that people expect the better supplier to have. Visitors appreciate suppliers who are confident enough to admit who their main competitors are. Instead of sending customers away to the competition, it may make customers change their minds and come back to place an order.

Remember that in the physical world, another shop may be miles away. Customers who want to buy something, will buy at your place, even if the competitor is slightly cheaper. But on the WEB, the competition is only one click away. People may indeed go and check out the competition. But people may just as quickly click to come back to your place. Hyperlinks are the essence of the World Wide Web. Without interlinking, your site will become isolated. A network of similar, but complementary sites may go a long way to enhance your Internet presence.

There are many ways to network and you may want to use some of the following examples simultaneaously:

  • Webrings, e.g. see the Webring.com
  • Reciprocal linking arrangements. Find suitable groups at the Optionality Network. Think synergy, complimentary services, enhancements that are beneficial!
  • A service that accommodates or links to sites with specific interests or services, e.g. portals, a virtual shopping mall or discussion groups - again, you can find many groups at the Optionality Network;
  • WEB-based Discussion groups, e.g. Yahoo groups or MSN groups;
  • Affiliates networks, such as Clicktrade
  • Email Lists that focus on a specific topic, interest area, product or service, e.g. the Topica email lists

  


This page contains free advice provided by Quintessence
through the Optionality Network




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