…by Suzanne Falter-Barnes
Ever notice how some websites feel great, energetic, fun — you just
want to linger to soak up more? And yet other sites are truly
repellant. These tips will help you create a truly happening site….

1. Don\’t use a dark background. Think about the websites you\’ve
seen that are fun, refreshing, and really draw you in. Ever notice they
usually have a white or light background? Dark or heavily patterned
background are emotionally draining to look at, and they\’re hard to
read. Since the Web is a written medium, color counts!

2. Don\’t pick hard-to-load graphics. You\’ve heard it before.
Don\’t use little graphics that sing and dance not only because they
take longer to load (not everywhere has a high speed connection.)
Search engines get confused by them, and could potentially downgrade or
even ban you in their rankings. Even cascading style sheets, often used
in templates, can slow down SE responsiveness. Ultimately, tricky stuff
like this does little to enhance your site. What counts … is content!

3. Don\’t confuse the reader. Pick one focus and stick with it.
Resist the temptation to cram all of your many skills into one small
website. Chances are they speak to different audiences, so serve up
only focused fare for a singular audience. For example, if you\’re a
coach who works with the chronically disorganized, plus those who need
relationship help, you\’ve got the making of two powerful websites, not
one. After all, you can always have more than one website to speak to
your different readers. (I do!)

4. Make sure your brand — your site name, URL and ezine/blog
names — reflects your focus. If your site helps disorganized,
menopausal women get a grip, choose a URL that reflects that. Go with
‘getagripover50.com\’ for instance, instead of a generic life coaching
term like ‘strategicliving.com\’. Again and again I encounter coaches
who think they must put all of their myriad products under one generic
name that means nothing. No one says you can\’t have several websites
that reach several different audiences and sell different products and
services. (Remember, however, you\’ll have to promote all those sites,
so don\’t go too crazy.)

5. Make sure your ezine and blog scream ‘BENEFIT. Nothing worse
than a soft, mushy ezine/blog that doesn\’t really DO anything for the
reader. Using the example above, why not an ezine or blog called ‘Hot
Flashes Over 50\’? Your ezine must be more than your collected thoughts,
unlike your blog which can be more conversational. A good ezine
delivers useful info to exactly who needs it. And the title reflects
that.

6. Don\’t hard-sell the reader. Websites that come at the reader
with all the offers up front, and then some, dash our interest quickly.
Don\’t put all of your offers right out there on the home page. Rather,
entice us in to spend a little quality time with your fre.e articles,
your ezine, your insights. Give me some of what you know for fre.e, in
a dignified manner, and I\’ll probably be willing to pay for the rest.

7. Don\’t use look-alike templates. Tempting as that
site-in-a-box price point is, avoid it studiously. We seen them A LOT,
and they do nothing for your site or your image. Instead, hire a
designer who can tweak your template to become truly your own — it\’s
not as hard as you might think. Add your own personalized images, and
feel fre.e to have them strip away some of the bells and whistles.

8. Don\’t blow off the keywords. When it comes to search engines
like Google and Yahoo, keywords are your best friend. Something like
85% of your web traf.fic will come from these words, so you\’ll want to
handle them carefully. Various tools like www.wordtracker.com and
Overture\’s keyword tool can help you see what\’s out there, and pick and
choose intelligently.

Want to know lots more ways to maximize your website, reinvent your
brand or set up a brand that truly rocks? Be part of our Get Known Now
Blast Off Group — you\’ll see your business truly take off!