How to Spring Clean Your Website

Spring is a wonderful time of year but it might not be so wonderful for our online business. The weather is getting nicer and people are spending more time outside, away from their computers. One way to get more people to come to your website is to do some spring cleaning and I don’t mean your house! Our websites can get stale and outdated if we do not clean them up periodically.

There are lots of things you can do to freshen up your site and bring new life and new customers to your online business.

1. Add a new section filled with resources, information and maybe even some special deals for your customers. Use relevant keywords to improve your ranking. For example: if you own a home decor business, offer decorating tips and advice. Show people how to decorate on a budget or how to redecorate with things they already own. By providing information and resources along with your products, you are giving people a reason to keep coming back. This is how you build trust with your visitors and get more sales.

2. Remove all dead links, outdated information and products. Nothing is worse than going to a site and finding links that don’t work or information and/or products that are no longer useable or helpful. Go through all the links on your site and freshen up the content to offer up to date information!

3. Give your homepage a facelift by adding new graphics, text, etc. Redo your banner and give it some new life. Take out the old graphics and add some fresh new images. Research your keywords and revamp your text with some effective keywords. Write a new introduction to your site detailing all your new additions.

4. If you haven’t yet tried blogging, read up on blogging and zap some life into your site. Some free blogging sites are Blogger and WordPress. Blogging is a great way to improve your search engine ranking while expanding your network.

5. Update your product line. Add some fresh new products and offer the old products at clearance prices. Have a Spring Sale and liven up your sales! Keep those customers coming back for more!

6. Add a What’s New page so you can let everyone know about all your updates now and in the future. This feature could get more people to return to your site to see What’s New?

7. Research the colors used on your site. You may find changing the colors of your site can bring a whole new life to your business.

8. Put a small survey on your site. Ask your visitors what they would like to see and what type of products they are looking for. Getting the information straight from the horse’s mouth could do your business a lot of good. Offer your visitors a small gift for answering the questions on the survey.

9. Renew your goals! Make new goals and write out a new business plan. Learn from your experiences, good and bad, and improve your plan for success.

Spring is a time of renewal, revitalization and reenergizing! Our online businesses are no exception!

by: Terri Seymour

5 Tips for Writing Website Content – That Gets Results!

5 Steps to High-Value Web Content

1. Choose the right author.
2. Choose the right topic.
3. Address all sides of the topic.
4. Add supporting graphics, pictures, etc.
5. Link to related resources, both on your site and elsewhere

Let’s look at each of these steps in greater detail.

1. Choose the Right Author

The best author for your small business website content is not always the person who knows the most about the product or service from a technical standpoint. Often, it’s best to have an in-house writer who plays the go-between role of “consumer advocate,” getting the information from one group and translating it for another group.

2. Choose the Right Topic

If your small business only offers one product or service, then that will likely be the topic of your web content. In this case, I would focus on choosing the right angle as well. Don’t tell people what you want them to know — this is an outdated way of thinking about public information, especially when it comes to small business website content. Instead, find out what people want to know about the types of products you offer, and use your web content to address those questions or concerns.

If you are writing web content for a company that has many products or services, you will have to spend more time choosing topics first and choosing your angle second. In this case, it becomes more about topic organization than anything. Large websites with many topics are ideally suited for a category and sub-category system: These are our products >> And this is product ‘A’ >> And this is a web page that explains product ‘A’ in detail.

3. Address All Sides of the Topic

Whether you’re writing about one of your products, or you’re creating a tutorial of some kind, you need to cover all the angles. There’s nothing worse than website content that leaves the job only half-done, telling you why a certain thing is important but not pursuing that lead.

When you are close to a certain topic — as is the case with people who create a product or service — it’s easy to assume everyone else understands it as well as you do. But the opposite is usually true, so you need to explain all sides of a topic when you write content for your small business website.

Want to keep your pages relatively short for easy reading? You can do that while still offering complete information. That’s what hyperlinks are for!

4. Link to Related Resources

Here’s the key to developing great content for your small business website. Try to create authority documents that others in your field would link to and recommend to others. One of the key criteria for a resource document is that it links to plenty of supporting information, both on the same website and elsewhere on the web.

In addition to being good for your readers, this kind of useful content will make other webmasters more inclined to link to your website. This adds to your link “popularity” and can further improve the search engine ranking of your small business website.

When writing a particular web page, try to think of it as “the ultimate guide to [blank].” This is the first step to creating the kind of authority documents that eventually dominate the search engines and drive endless web traffic for the authors. But it’s rarely possible to create an “ultimate guide” to anything in just one page, so be liberal about linking to other sources on your own website and elsewhere (as long as their not direct competitors).

5. Add Supporting Graphics, Pictures, Etc.

Reading online can be hard on the eyeballs. You can make the reader’s job easier in two ways. First, you can format your content appropriately for web reading (short paragraphs, narrow text columns, lots of bullet points, headers, sub-headers, etc.). Secondly, you can add supporting images and helpful graphics.

Well-placed graphics can improve website content in a number of ways. Images are more enticing than text upon first glance, so they can help attract and retain readers. They also help you clarify your message with visual reinforcement.

by: Brandon Cornett

Elements of A Good Design

There are elements of a good design that must be attended to and contended with, no matter the medium-print, broadcast, web, even mobile phone displays.

Classic components

Think of the elements of design as the basic building blocks.

At the most basic level, there are five elements in any design:

1. Lines and linework

These terms do not refer to pen-and-ink or pencil sketches, but to borders, frames and rules. Horizontal or vertical, thick or thin, regular or irregular, they help define and delimit spaces around various elements on your pages. Good linework increases both the readability and “directionality” (see #5, below) of the design as a whole.

2. Shape

Any enclosed area, form or contour in your design is a shape. Shapes in most layouts are square or rectangular, but nothing says they must be, and circles are useful, too. You can also use images to create other, regular or irregular shapes.

3. Texture

Texture imparts a “surface” feeling, and is tactile in printed matter, so choosing the paper stock-matte, weave, coated-is a design decision, too. Textures on layouts meant for broadcast or the Internet are visual only, but still key.

4. Color

Color is probably the element that most designers are at least acutely aware of, if not schooled in. However, color is not required in many designs, and some art educators suggest creating designs without any color first. The artist, in this view, should then add only as much color as needed to enhance or complete the design. Another school of thought holds that color should be one of the first elements determined. Experience and experimentation will help every artist develop a good color sense and strategy.

5. Direction

Effectively designed layouts, in magazines or on your computer screen, usually have a sense of motion. A good design will lead the reader’s eyes through the design deliberately, using color changes, shapes, linework and copy placement direct viewers’ attention to what the designer wants them to see.

The bottom line of good design is, quite simply, to attract readers’ attention, direct it in a particular way and, in concert with the copywriting, make a positive impression.