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Web Site Redesign - From Stagnation To Rejuvenation
By Herman Drost

When surfing the Web these days, you often come across web sites that suffer from stagnation - they look old, obsolete or appear to have been designed by an amateur. Your web site needs continuous improvement to capture and engage your visitor's attention. If not, they can easily click away to your competitor's site.

12 Steps to Prevent Website Stagnation

1 Define A Clear Purpose

When visitors arrive at your site, they should immediately know what your site is all about. You should introduce this in your first paragraph. A graphic may help to supplement your explanation.

2 Create A Clear Theme Throughout Your Site

As time goes by, you may add things to your web site that has nothing to do with your original theme. You hope it will attract more visitors. This may be in the form of banners or links from other popular sites. Don't do it! Why? This only seeks to distract people from the focus of your site. Instead, reevaluate your site's content and overall design.

3 Provide Valuable Content

"Content is king" on the Net.

People are looking for easily accessible information about your product or service. Your homepage should entice visitors to dig deeper into your web site. Sometimes you are too close to your web site, that you can't see what changes are needed to improve it.

Get other people to visit your web site and ask them for their honest feedback. Based on this, make the appropriate changes.

4 Harmonize Text And Graphics

Recent sites I've visited, had hard to read text (they used the same font as they would for printed media). Sometimes sites have all their text capitalized. Others have a graphic that takes up most of the page, making the web page slow loading or the text rolls onto the graphic.

Create your web pages where the background colors of your web page are lighter than the text (black text on a white background is still the easiest to read). Create graphics that enhance the appearance of the page and support the content.

5 Create Site Interactivity

A static web site won't allow visitors to interact with your web site. Because the Web, is an interactive medium, create ways in which your visitors will either want to return or be invited to return.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

bulletWrite an informative newsletter - create a subscription box on your web site with a link to a sample of your newsletter. In your newsletter you can invite them to new products and services on your site.
bulletRun a contest - include a contest form on your web page and invite them to return to see if they are the winner.
bulletCreate a poll or survey - you could have a weekly or monthly poll or survey, then publish the results at the end of period.
bulletCreate a chat room - invite people for one hour a week to chat with you about your area of expertise. This may become something they look forward to.
bulletGive something away - people love freebies. If you do a search for "freebies" on google you will get 1,400,000 sites that offer free products or services. Make sure the product fits with your target audience.

6. Simple Navigation

Sites that make it difficult to find the information you need, or make it hard to get back to the homepage, lose visitors very quickly. Other sites have multiple navigation systems that only create confusion.

Create a navigation system that is simple, quick and makes it easy to guide the visitor through the site. This can be in the form of text links or graphical links that are consistent on every page

7. Build Trust And Credibility

If your web site doesn't give the impression that you can be trusted because you make unbelievable claims, you will lose visitors fast. Here are some ideas:

bulletAsk for testimonies from satisfied customers.
bulletGive a guarantee with your service or product. 
bulletProvide well-written content. 
bullet Create an "about us" page to give folks a little background of whom they are doing business with. 
bullet List any professional associations you are associated with.

8. Web Page Popularity

Examine your site statistics and see which pages most of your visitors are landing on. If most of your visitors are entering the less significant pages of your web site, you may want to change the keywords of your best pages to drive web traffic to them instead.

9. Site Loading Speed

This is the most important factor in having folks visit your web site. If it is slow loading (more than 10 seconds with a 56K modem), your visitors will click away to your competition. Here are some ideas to speed up and cut down on loading times: 

bullet

Optimize your graphics so they are small in size.

bullet

Don't use too many graphics on one page.

bullet

Clean up any bloated or unnecessary html.

bullet

]Don't overdo your site with flash, java applets, java script, and dynamic html

10. Research Your Competition

Constantly keep an eye on your competition for new technologies and new ways to communicate with your audience. Take a look at the design and keywords they are using. If they rank high in the search engines, this will give you some ideas of how you can improve your own site.

11. Keyword Density

Analyze the amount of keywords you are using in each of your web pages. Try to aim for a keyword density on your site from 3-20%. This will give you a good range. You can analyze your keyword density by using these online tools:

http://www.keyworddensity.com

http://www.keywordcount.com

Don't repeat your keywords more than 3 times. Use different keywords for each web page.

12. Find A Good Web Designer To Redesign Your Site

Look for a design company that knows all the facets of the web site design and marketing phases. This ensures you will have a web site that sells (not just a nice design).


Copyright 2002 by Herman Drost

Herman Drost is a Certified Web Site Designer (CIW), owner and author of iSiteBuild.com Affordable Web Site Design, Hosting, and Promotion Packages ( http://www.isitebuild.com ) Subscribe to his "Marketing Tips" newsletter for more original articles. 

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