5 Key Steps to a Successful Website

EV111-033One of the main reasons that I wanted to move my website to a new server was that I was never happy with the wholesale shopping cart on my current site. And since wholesale is about 80% of my business that was a BIG problem for me.  The other reasons were all finance related….too many extra charges and a 1% fee for each transaction.  When I sat down and actually calculated what I could SAVE by moving it…..I was thrilled… least a months worth of diapers and a few lunches out!  Yoo Hoo!! My sister’s new client Webgem has gone out of their way to help me build a website exactly to my specifications.  I want to share a few tips with you to help you create a website that is easy to navigate (= easy to purchase from) and with good descriptions and an easy shopping cart. I will announce my launch in a couple of weeks so will be sure to show you the new website and all the cool features!!

Your website represents your brand to the world and needs to be consistent with the look and feel you have worked so hard to achieve.  Whether or not you sell your product or it is just an informational website (if you license it out and don’t sell it for example), your site needs to be easy to read and grab persons attention in 3 seconds.

Here are the key points that you can follow to make sure your site is well on it’s way to success.

1. Look and design – There are many different designs and looks out there so do some research to find what you like and use those to show your website designer, or to use on your own. I personally am annoyed by long loading pretty graphics so think about how that makes you feel before you choose to add that feature. Once your site is up, have some people test it out and give you feedback.  You want to be sure that the “not so web savvy” can navigate your site easily and be able to make a purchase without becoming frustrated – that will only lead to them leaving without purchasing – which means less sales.bxp62846

2. Managing the website – There are many ways to build a website these days.  You can choose to hire a web designer or you can do it yourself with many of the easy to follow sites out there. You can also hire the expert to get the site up and then teach you to maintain it yourself.   This can be very cost effective and easy if they use a template site-builder.  Here is a list of a few DIY that colleagues and clients have used in the past.

3.  Content – Content is all the written and visual material on your website. Obviously this is important as it will convey the nature of the products you are selling and what they look like. Think of the words as your virtual sales person. Write the content as you would need someone to explain the product to you to get you to buy it. Keep it simple but be sure to cover all the bases.

  • Home page –Be sure anything important is above the fold – meaning can be seen on a laptop. Ask a friend to check it out for you if you don’t have one.
  • Catalog pages – These are the various pages where items can be purchased. Sometimes there is a main catalog page for a category and then individual pages for each item with it’s own description “buy” button.pinkdaisy200 For example – on my website the Handy Hold All® has a main page and it displays all the different fabric versions we sell. You click on one and then can read more about it and buy it. Often the “main catalog” pages are listed on the home page to make the access easily available.
  • About us – This page should tell about the creator (probably you), their background and how and why you created the product. If you are not a good writer then this is a good thing to outsource.
  • Information pages/FAQ – This should be information about your companies shipping policy, returns, exchanges and ordering process. You can check out some examples on other similar vendors websites.
  • Check out page/shopping cart – This should be part of the site builder template that you use and is the page where the buyer reviews the products they are buying and can pay here.
  • Press – This is where you are going to display all the wonderful things people write and say about you. Visit other sites to see how they display their press and decide what works best for you.
  • Sign up button – You want to be sure you have a way to capture email addresses of everyone who comes to your website if possible. Usually this is done with a newsletter builder – once you sign up they give you the code to make the signup box on your home page. We recently started offering an instant 25% off coupon for first time subscribers and our list is building 3x as fast as last year. See if you can offer an incentive to get them to sign up and even buy something right away!
  • Follow Me Buttons – Be sure to link to your Facebook Fan page and Twitter and any other Social media, blogs etc…

4.  Sales – Obviously this is the most important part of your site. No matter how pretty or cool your website looks, k1575018selling is your ultimate goal.

  • Selling text – The selling text needs to be clear, concise and descriptive without being boring. If you have repetitive items like I do, then perhaps think about having the general info on the main catalog page and the individual description on the sales page. Again, if you are not a good writer this can be outsourced. Be sure to include any measurements you can give, and feel free to write in a “friendly” tone as that is more inviting than a stone cold description.
  • Product image – You also need a good image of the product. You don’t have to be a great photographer, but the product does need to look good to attract buyers. Most images will need to be altered and cleaned up in Photoshop or another program of your choice.
  • Special features – Sometimes a special feature like the ability to enlarge the image or roll over a special detail can make or break a sale. If your item needs this be sure your webhost can provide this or suggest a place that can add this feature to your site.

5. SEO – Search Engine Optimization – These are a series of words and groups of words that when properly implemented can help improve the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. This is a very complicated and evolving methodology that is difficult to k2711976implement your self. There are lots of DYI books out there on SEO and you can give it a try – but as you have more money, you may decide that it is a better use of your time to hire a firm who specializes in this. These are some of the most important things to remember when building your site for optimum SEO on your own. This is only some basic stuff you could do on your own but for the major work….look into a VA or a vetted company to help you out.

  • Key words – Having relevant keywords on your home page is important in helping the search engines find your website. A good place to start is the google keyword tool. From there you can create a list to help you make up your BEST keywords and incorporate them into your text on the home page for optimum SEO.
  • Title tags – These are specific page headings that when implemented can help index your site faster. There is usually a place on your website (ask the company you are working with) to add these words.
  • Social Media – As you all know, I am BIG into free everything and try to suggest as many places that you can bootstrap and save your money for more important things….(like me for example!) Try to use your social media outlets as much as possible for SEO purposes. Link as often as possible to as many people and places as you can each week, and try to create a list of blogs that you can comment on frequently leaving a breadcrumb trail back to yourself.
  • Ad words – Using pay-per-click ads can be a great way to drive traffic to your site. You can differentiate a paid ad from an organic web ranking as it is usually placed along the right side if using Google or Yahoo to search for something. Paid ads can often be seen on top of the organic rankings as well. There is nothing wrong with paying for ads. Lots of people do it because it works. But mounting a targeted campaign is the key to success. If you need some guidance, Lana Goldenberg is awesome! Working with her over the past few months has raised my subscriber rate by 200%.
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    Written by Sarah Shaw

    There are 4 comments

  • Thanks for the tip Sara. It was very informative and helpful for someone like myself who isn’t very tech savvy. I will most definetly keep these tips in mind as I continue to work with my web designer on completing my bakerie’s site.

  • Susan says:

    Great info Sarah! This a very helpful guide to the keys for website building.

  • Heather L says:

    Good stuff here Sarah, thank you. I am in the process of a website redesign so I wanted to see what you had to say on the topic. Thanks!

  • Great read and thanks for all the good tips. I recently had a ‘badge’ created for my website/product that my customers and followers from Twitter can easily cut & paste to their Blog. Wa La! Instant advertising in front of the audience theme I want.

    Check it out!

    Thanks again,

    Lisa Illman, President The Kritter Kommunity, LLC 1-888-8KONDOS

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