How to make your Web site stand out
David Taylor Inside Track
Depending on which statistic you believe, there are anything from 60 to 100 million Web sites in the world. The big question is, how do you ensure that your site is visited, revisited, and used as intended? In other words, how can you make your site stand out from the crowd?
I put this question to three groups of decision-makers recently: chief executives, IT directors and a group of teenage school-children. A total of 60 people took part and, as a result, I now present the top 20 most popular ways to ensure the success of any site.
How many of these does your site comply with and do you understand their importance?
Loyalty: the so-called "stickiness" element that glues visitors to the site and makes them want to return. Don't forget the "wow" factor, the emotional side. You have to engage with your visitors/customers/people on an emotional level, or you will disappear.
Community value: the value of a site is largely determined by people feeling involved - not just visiting. This is measured by volume of subscribers.
Communication: ensure that people can engage directly with you through the site - be it to communicate or purchase. Sites that end with an address or phone number are losers.
Content: less is more, focus content rather than publish Megs of rubbish.
Simplicity: can you draw a simple A4 mind-map of your site and how it all interacts? If you can't, then it is too complex.
Innovate: make your site stand out. Don't be afraid to set new trends, to be a pioneer. Do not simply go with the flow or follow tired techniques.
Branding: your URL is branding, ensure it grabs attention or has emotional appeal.
International feel: you have global reach from day one, ensure you look and act the part.
Up to date: visitors demand immediacy from a site, so make sure you move with the times. If you do not, you will be a picture in time, not a Web site.
Alliances with other sites: ensure your site has active interaction with other sites, not simply referral URLs that cannot be accessed.
Appeal: some of the most successful business sites have childrens' sections, and companies can learn much from many of the best-designed and most-visited youth culture sites.
Technology: bleeding-edge technology stands out - so keep ahead of the Jones's.
Benefits: people must get more out of the site than they put in.
Niche market: does the site hit a specialist area? If not, join the gang that will fall and fail.
Participation: can visitors participate in the design of the site? Is there an involvement at that level?
Viral marketing: ensure your site has the ability to recommend it to a friend.
Navigation and clarity: your site must be user-friendly and have a simple design. Users need to be three clicks away from everything or will lose interest.
Download speed: make sure it is fast, or you will lose people, hits and business.
100% reliability: it is essential.Check out your host provider now!
Is it on the search engine lists? There are many ways to ensure this, and clever ways to make sure your site comes first!
David Taylor's Inside Track. A provocative insight into the world of IT in business, is out now. The book is the latest in the Computer Weekly Professional Series, published by ButterworthHeinemann: 01865-888180
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This was first published in August 2000