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How To Create a Successful Website
Let me preface this article by saying that I am not an Internet millionaire, but I have learned enough about the Internet to make a living doing what I like to do, that is creating and running successful web sites. There are a few principles that all successful web sites have in common.
AN EFFECTIVE INTERFACE
There are whole books written on this subject so I won't even attempt to cover everything in this short article. Suffice to say every successful web site has an integrated design approach that works. Integrated, in that all of the graphics, text, etc. look like they belong together, that they work together to create a whole. That being said, the most important aspect of web design may very well be speed. Pull up Yahoo in your browser, how fast did it load? By some estimates you only have 30 seconds to grab your visitors interest. Load time - the speed that a site is displayed in a browser is critical. The most successful sites combine graphics optimized for the web with text and (more and more often ) nested tables with background colors to create pleasing interfaces that load quickly.
BACK-END DRIVEN CONTENT
All successful web sites have content - articles, free services, inventory for sale, etc. Most of this content is managed by some sort of database/CGI type program. These days there are many alternative ways to implement online programs such as the classic CGI/Perl solutions to ASP, PHP, and C; and data base solutions as diverse as MySQL to Oracle. My advice is to choose the simplest solution available for your project. However, you should make sure that it will be able to scale to accommodate your site's anticipated success. Further, make sure that there is not a ready made, free version solution to your programming problem before you hire a programmer or buy a commercial version. There are many excellent resources that list hundreds of quality, free scripts available for download. One note about the content itself, it needs to not only be of high quality ( there is a lot of competition out there! ) but it needs to be constantly updated. If not daily, weekly updates are a must so that repeat visitors feel as if there is a reason to return. Repeat visitors are a very big key to continual growth. This makes a very good argument to use a programmable solution to manage your content, as the scripts allow you to update content more effectively than you can manually.
THEY GET NOTICED
Nothing else really matters if nobody ever sees your site. Thankfully, if you have a site with a good interface and good, timely, content you can build an audience for it. Unless you are a Big Corporation with thousands to spend on advertising, the first step is to get your site listed in the largest search engines and directories. This sounds simple, but doing it correctly takes quite a bit of info and time. First of all, you have to know the difference between a search engine and a directory. A search engine has a database of web pages - a user visits it, asks it a question and it returns relative web pages. AltaVista is an example. A directory is a categorized collection of web sites - a user visits and chooses a category they are interested in and "drills down" to find what they are looking for. Yahoo! is the best known directory. Many search sites blend the line between search engines and directories, but when promoting a site, you need to treat them a little differently. With search engines, you don't stop with your index page. Make sure every single page of your web site gets indexed by all the large search engines. With directories the most important thing is to make sure your site is listed in the correct category. We believe that the most important place to be listed is in Yahoo! Next we suggest getting all your pages listed in the Inktomi database that handles the spill over search results for Yahoo! and also powers HotBot, Direct Hit, Canada, Anzwers, and others. Finally we suggest getting all pages listed in The Open Directory Project, AltaVista, Infoseek, Lycos, Excite in that order and then concentrating on the smaller search engines. While these tips will not by themselves guarantee you a successful web site, they will point you in the right direction. Take an hour and surf the web checking out web sites that work - do they employ these three principals? Does your web site?
James T Kendall is the Chairman and CEO of eWeb-Corp. He puts these promotional principles into practice for TurboPromo - http://www.turbopromo.com
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