By Russ Shedd
Question: How can I use the Internet in my business?
Answer: Last time we discussed setting up the website. Here are some guidelines for designing your site.
- Loads quickly: Your website should load quickly on demand. No customer likes to wait, and Internet users are especially impatient with slow-loading sites.
- Contact information is easy to find: Visitors should not have to look far for your phone, fax, mailing address, and an e-mail link.
- Update frequently: Update your site as often as necessary to keep it current, to keep visitors informed, and to entice them to return.
- Provide user interaction: Allow the visitor to interact with your business by filling in forms, entering a contest, or requesting information.
Some Rules for Quality
- Overall Structure: Streamline the design. Make it clear and easy to follow. Give it "Curb Appeal". Design for normal (15-inch) screen size and screen resolution. Provide a "Printer Friendly" option. Use fonts and sizes that are easy to read and follow. Don't overdo it!
- Digital Photos: Pictures should be sharp and optimized for quick loading.
- Graphics: Banner ads, navigation aids, color schemes, animation. It's important they work together to get your message across, but be sure they don't slow down the site loading.
- Internal Search Capability: Help the visitor find the specific item or service he is looking for quickly.
- Collect Information: Many businesses use a counter to track the number of visits their site receives. A web page host can also provide statistical and demographic data gathered through on-line customer surveys, and even sort and summarize the data for you. Forms are also a useful tool to get customer information in order to target sales promotions, special offers, etc.
- Transactions capability: This is a key to web sales. Consider taking credit cards payments over the web. Build this into your site.
- Be Ready to Respond: Before your site becomes operational, get ready for the flood of information that may come your way. Internet surfers send waves of e-mail correspondence and requests for information to businesses on the web. Set up a system to respond to these messages quickly and efficiently.
These are just a few of the design considerations for your site. Contact SCORE or your web designer for more assistance in designing a customer-winning site.
SCORE will present "Planning and Financing Your Business" on Tuesday, Aug. 31. For more information on any of these workshops and to pre-register, please call SCORE at 778-7438.
SCORE provides confidential counseling at no-charge to small businesses and non-profit organization. You can reach SCORE in Northern Arizona at 1-800-410-2260, by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at our website at www.scorearizona.org/northern_az.