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Make Your Website Useful to Online Visitors

With the abundance of online visitors finding your website through the search engines, it is important to give them some incentive to come back and use your website. It is important to have useful information that keeps the reader wanting to find out more about what you have to offer. This can be accomplished many ways on your website. Here are a few examples of ideas that we have seen over the years.

Online Newsletter

Offering an online newsletter is a fairly popular way to keep users informed about new happenings with your company and different products and services that you have to offer.

Online Calculators

This is popular with accountants and mortgage lenders. It makes sense to have a calculator in front of a user so they can calculate the expense of certain fees and interest rates.

Offer Email Updates

This differs from the online newsletter by just sending little bits of information rather than a full blown online newsletter. This can also be a more effective use of your time, than to come up with a monthly newsletter.

A Color Wheel

We have seen this used on a few powder coating websites or on websites that deal with picking colors. This can be a great tool to have the user pick their color online rather than explain it over the phone.

Online Coupons

This can prove to be a very popular way to bring users back to your website and make it useful to them. Offers can appear like a coupon and the user can print them out. There are many websites online dedicated to showing coupons for different products and services online.

Links to Other Related Services or Products

If you have a landscaping business, why not have links on your website where a user can get a siding job done on their house? Or a sprinkler system put in that you would recommend. May be a place to buy a fantastic looking concrete statue? These online links will position you as a knowledgeable professional that knows the in’s and out’s of the industry.

Articles and Tips about Your Services

Articles are a great way to showcase your knowledge about your business and make your website useful to online visitors. Writing articles also helps your business show up in the search engines for longer keyword phrases. Writing a quick article can sometimes be the difference between building that little extra piece of credibility for that online visitor to pick up the phone and give your business a call.



Content Generation for Your New Website

Website Content Generation

So you have finally decided to get a website for your business. Congratulations! You found a reputable Minneapolis web design firm with a solid portfolio and great customer service. You want a clean, crisp design and also be found in the search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN. Then it finally sets in, you are going to need text on your website. What should you say? Should you really include that? How long should it be? Need some help? Keep reading.

What should you say?

Even though you may think writing copy for your business may be easy, when it comes time to actually sit down and write, it may take a while to organize your thoughts.

I would recommend the following ideas for your “Home” or “About” page:

  • How many years have you been in business?
  • Write the story about how your business was started.
  • What products and services do you offer and how do they differ from the competition?
  • List the geographical areas you serve.
  • Where your business is located.

For a “Products” or “Services” page, I would recommend:

  • A picture of the product or service being completed
  • A description of the product or service
  • All of what is included with the product or service
  • Any warranties
  • What the user can expect when they have this product or service
  • Any part numbers that are relevant to the product or other common names for the service
  • A contact phone number

Finally, for a “Contact” page, I would recommend:

  • Any and all contact information
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Fax number
  • Website address
  • Business mailing address
  • Google Map with driving directions
  • Google Talk, AIM or other instant message programs

This information will help you get started on some of the types of text that visitors will find useful on your website. We have noticed when writing our own text that the above suggestions get the ball rolling and then it usually spirals into a bunch more content that you were unaware that you had wanted to put in.

How long should it be?

I would recommend breaking the information into some decent chunks, maybe 500 – 1200 words and spreading it around on different pages. If you do have a long page, I would recommend internal links that, when clicked, automatically scroll down the page to the desired content. If you choose to do this, place a “Back to the top” link at the bottom of the desired content section. It makes it easier for users to quickly get around your website.

Be resourceful, use the internet!

Go out to websites and look at what people use for great paragraphs. What ever you do, do not steal others’ text. This can get you in serious trouble. You can, however, see different writing styles for different industries and then come up with your own unique style of writing for your own website.

Be sure to include keywords!

Finally, keep in mind the keywords you would like to rank for in the search engines. Include a few keywords throughout your text so that the search engines can pick them up. Don’t stuff your paragraph with keywords. This could lead to penalties and possibly get your website banned. So keep it natural and let the search engine ranking begin!



The Economy: What we have noticed

Recessions and business

I believe everyone by now has heard of the recession that we are all in. Some businesses have fared just fine. Some have gone out of business but one thing is certain, it is not pretty out there. We have also felt the recession mainly because we work with businesses of all shapes and sizes and some have been hit pretty hard. Lately though, we have seen some light on the horizon and it seems as though things are picking up out there.

What we have noticed

The time frame I’m speaking within is about January 1, 2009 through August 24, 2009. We talk to many businesses and early this year we heard many stories that businesses were cutting back. Any B2B (business-to-business) can most likely agree that it has been a little slower lately. Lately though, the business owners we have been chatting with are opening up to the idea of spending more money and increasing their business. This is a great sign for anyone in the advertising industry, partly because in a recession scenario, advertising is one of the first things to be cut.

What you can expect

While businesses deal with the current economic conditions, you can bet they are looking for ways to stay in business. This usually means that businesses that can help them spend less and be more efficient will be in demand. You can also expect that most of the businesses that are choosing to do nothing during a recession will be going out of business. This will also mean that the customers that those businesses served will be looking for other companies to complete the work. If your businesses is able to pull through these tough times, I imagine the internet and a great sales staff will be key to the survival. You can also expect the internet to grow, even through the recession. People will tend to stay at home and use tools that they are already paying for. They will also be looking for additional ways to save money, ways to educate themselves, cheaper products and services and coupon shop. All of this brought to their doorstep by the internet, courtesy of web designers everywhere.

Bootstrap marketing ideas

If your business is in rough shape, you may find help on the internet for some ways to get the word out about what you offer. I would recommend sitting with key decision makers in your organization and brain storming for ideas that could help you get the word out. Here are a few:

  • PPC (pay per click) search engine campaign
  • SEO (search engine optimization) optimize your business for the search engines
  • Write articles for your website
  • Restructure your website
  • Keyword research
  • Call your current clients and ask how they are doing and if they need additional services
  • Add some additional services to your business
  • Go to a few tradeshows and strike up conversations with business owners that could use your services
  • Send out a mailer to businesses you’d like to work with. Add on a great offer.
  • Think of where your potential customers might go to find more information about the industry you serve. Send an article to a magazine that they read.

Chin up! Charge the mountain!

Staying motivated is necessary in a recession climate. Keeping all sales staff on top of their game and looking at the bright side of what is happening can have a positive effect on your business. Recessions are part of today’s economy. If you structure your business the right way, you will roll right though a down economy and be in a position and pick up business that your used-to-be competitors dropped.



Design Your Website for Your Target Audience

Targeted web design

Keeping your target audience in mind when you are planning a website redesign is a critical component of whether or not that website is going to be effective and viewed as a trust worthy source of information in your industry. It is important to review past analytic data from your website to see the different screen resolutions that are used as well as traffic patterns to different topics and the most popular content. It is also a good idea to ask users who fit into your target audience what they like to see in a website and maybe some examples of the way content is presented to them. Keeping your target audience in mind can have a huge effect on whether visitors find your website easy to maneuver through or move on to another website.

Analyze past website visitor data and behavior

Analyzing past data and seeing patterns in user behavior is a great way to dive into how visitors to your website think and act. No matter the website, there are different patterns on how visitors click through the website and different areas they spend more time at. Using this data and analyzing patters can show you how to cater that specific audience for more relevant information. If you see that there is a high rate of traffic that goes to view your contact page and your contact information is solely there, it may be a good idea to place that contact information on every page, so it is directly in front of customers at all times. Another example is if you see patters of users moving from article to article. This can be a sign that you may want to place links to related articles maybe on the side of your website or at the bottom of the article so they can move on to the next article without backing out to an articles page.

Screen resolutions

Another very interesting piece of information you can get from analytics data is the screen resolution that visitors are using to view your website. This can come in handy when redesigning your website so you can keep it in a particular screen resolution. This helps with the amount the user has to horizontally scroll to see all of the content on your website. You may decide that the screen resolution may be large or small and you would like to have a more “fluid” design that stretches to fit the screen of your visitor no matter the screen resolution. Either way, being able to analyze data and see what your visitor is using for hardware can help them have a great user experience on your website.

Ask people in your target audience what they like

What better way to gather information about your new website design than to ask people who are in your target audience? I am always surprised how much detailed information people will give you about what they like about a website and what they find easy and difficult. All of it is good information to gather and sift through for your new website. When we asked people for their input, they are usually very likely to help you out and they like to see some of their ideas incorporated into a design. I have heard different target audiences that like larger text, larger pictures, YouTube videos, blogs, articles, forms, wider designs, contact information are just a few of the features that we have heard people say they like to see on a website. Another great way to have users find your site more useful is to have programs that help them out. For example, if you have a mortgage website, maybe you should place some calculators on your website and some instructions on what they are calculating and how it can affect their mortgage payments. These little programs are a great way for people to bookmark your website and see you as an authority in your field.

Make it easy for your target audience

It is always a pleasure to go though a website that has exactly what you want, relevant information everywhere and fits within your viewing screen. These are the types of websites that we will often bookmark. We have also seen when a website has the features that the target audience is looking for, those website almost always have higher sales because of it. Make it easy for your visitors and hopefully they will make it easier for you to keep your business making money.



Reasons for a Website Redesign

Website Redesign

Every now and then, you run across a website of a company that looks like the last time it was updated was 1997. How much trust does that build with you? I usually think, “Hmmm…if their website is outdated, maybe their business practices are as well.” And then I usually proceed on to their competitor. Having an updated and user friendly design can pay dividends to people searching for your products and services or to your sales team and having them guide prospective clients to the correct area on your website.

Redesign and update your website

It is important to keep your look and feel as fresh and clean as possible. We believe it is also important to maintain a constant look and feel throughout the website. Do yourself and your visitors a favor and don’t have the logo aligned left on one page and then aligned right on another page, with different navigation elements. Keep it consistent. Also make sure your website is in accordance with your other promotional materials. We have helped clients who send out flyers and it is important to have the same logos and colors in order to appear consistent. With customers, it’s critical to build up enough trust so they feel comfortable contacting you.

Make your website redesign more user friendly

  • Make sure your website does not have any broken links. This is a sign to the search engines that some of the content on your website may be outdated.
  • Validate your website. The World Wide Web Consortium has a website validator that you can use to make sure your website is up to code standards.
  • Redo your title and description tags on your website. Make sure it relates to the information you have on the web page. This can help in the search engine results.
  • Make sure your navigation is clear and consistent. This is a huge deal on the web. There is nothing more frustrating than a website that has inconsistent navigation throughout the website. Visitors WILL go to competitors’ websites.
  • Update offers and contact information. Be sure to change and add any phone numbers that need to be replaced. Make sure email addresses go to the proper location. Make sure your address is up to date. Is all of the contact information on each and every page? Is everything spelled right? Is that sale from 1998 over yet on your website?
  • Add new, worthwhile information to your website. Do you have an article about your company that would help other visitors to make a decision to use your products or services? Do you have any testimonials that you could share? Is there any new affiliation that you would like to show off to visitors? Collect as much information that you think would be helpful to a visitor and get it ready to place online.

Taking on a website design project can be a hefty task. If you could use our assistance, please feel free to get in touch with us. We have completed many website redesigns over the years. The owners are usually very excited when they see the effect it can have on the search engine positions and the conversion rates from visitor to customer.