Every online site has gone through, or will eventually go through three main phases; Design, Development and Marketing. It’s imperative that you study these phases in order to understand what makes or breaks a site and how to avoid common mistakes many webmasters fall victim to.
To better help you visualize parts of these phases we’re going to take a random site and put it under the microscope and use it as an example. For this article, we’re going to use STDHelp.org as our example, a completely random fairly new website with many of the great pointers I want to share with you already implemented into it!
The first stage of building a site once you know the niche and concept is the design phase. Now if you go straight to creating a web site chances are that your site will most likely end up badly structured and looking rather unprofessional. So below are a few tips and things to keep in mind.
A good rule to remember when working on the page design is consistency. You do not want users navigating through different pages to feel as if they’re navigating through 15 different sites, chances of them sticking around after a drastic change in design after the very first click are slim to none!
Now that you have started working on your page design, pay attention to these next few rules on how to build the perfect navigation that wont only make life easier for your users, but also make it easier for Search Engine bots to crawl and index your entire site through the navigation itself. Again, this goes without saying, but the important rule of consistency applies here too so keep the navigation in the same position and make sure it doesn’t change so as not to confuse the users.
Take a look at STDHelp, their navigation is a great example. Not only is it text based, which is always a plus, but it’s prominent and in the same place thought the site. It’s clear and not only is it labeled but each tab is described. Even navigating to the forums keeps the header/navigation the same providing users with a fixed map to easily navigate back and forth within the site.
It’s also important to remember that images should not be used to replace text. While alt tags do help SEO wise later on, it’s best practice to use text over these images for styling rather than embed the text into images, therefor rendering them unreadable by search engine bots. In web design, a picture is not really worth a thousand words if you know what i mean! As is the case with STDHelp’s main home page image, the text over it is not embedded into the image (the title is) but all the main links, with those valuable keywords are text based!
Keep in mind that alt tags for images used to replace text do not make up for the actual text in value!
Next we have the content, it’s really important that you proof read your content to avoid mistakes that leave users feeling the site is a little on the unprofessional side. Don’t swamp your home/index page with too much content, you see visitors will glance over your site so you need to make important parts prominent rather than stuffing it with thousands of words they wont even bother reading.
STDHelp is a great example of this. They have a single paragraph explaining what the site offers, that’s all you need. The rest of the site provides quick tools and services for the users. From a news section, popular links section, quick navigation section, featured articles and conversations. It instantly gives you the sense that it’s a community site and you can scan it right away in seconds to see if it contains what you’re looking for.
They even provide a helpful widget which makes their site seem more alive, and active with an “ask a doctor a question” widget where you can communicate with doctors online. You can use things like this to provide your users with a little interaction to keep them interested and drive them to register or sign up.
Another thing to keep in mind is the link structure of your site but you can learn more about that in the V7N Community
Now that you have designed and built your site to be as Search Engine/User friendly as possible, you can start marketing it. Now I’m not going to point out some of the obvious ways to market your site, you know, things like build backlinks, submit your site to relevant directories, post on forums and comment on blogs dropping your sites link when you can. Let’s face it, that’s not what real marketing is all about.
Things like producing viral social media that can in turn produce interest from bloggers, regular site owners and sometimes even journalists, is something you want to make a note of! This not only creates backlinks to your site, and content about your site for publicity, it also creates hype. providing discounts and coupons, contests like the ones STDHelp holds, offline networking and even guest articles.
Social network sites really do help, take Twitter for example, it’s a perfect way to connect with real targeted users, one on one, and get those potential clients or dedicated loyal members you need for your site. STDHelp for example uses it’s STD help twitter profile to interact with thousands of its followers. They go as far as providing users with free products related to their site of course, like free condoms. This not only shows they care but it also stirs up replies!
When it comes to design, keep it all consistent and clear, for the development side of things, don’t cut corners and be nice to those Search Engine Bots and, in terms of marketing, just get creative and think outside the box, provide your users with free downloads, ways to interact and they’ll come!
Good luck with your site and happy ranking 🙂