That Left-Hand Side: Turning Your Website Into a Potent Sales Machine
© 2000 Harmony Major
Only a few of the millions of business websites online actually
generate a *consistent* profit. There's one critical thing that
nearly all of these websites have in common, which is how they
use their upper left-hand corner. Are you using YOURS correctly?
I hate to sound cynical, but probably not.
The following methodology will help YOUR website generate a
consistent profit by putting its left-hand side to use:
- Define your main goal.
What do you want your website to do? It can do several things at
once, (i.e. build your subscriber list, build your credibility,
get the sale, etc.), but there should be ONE thing that you want
it to do above all others. What is that one thing?
With business owners, this can prove to be a difficult decision
to make. For instance, I want all of my websites to do several
things. Get subscribers and sales, build my credibility, and
increase my publicity. However, I have several sites, and each
one of those accomplishes a different task on its home page.
It's alright for your site to have several goals, but make sure
you know what the PRIMARY goal is, so you can apply that to this
- Make sure the top left corner of your home page is ONLY used
to achieve that primary goal.
After you've defined your main goal above, your job is now to be
sure that your website is streamlined to accomplish that goal.
And, not only your website, but more importantly, the upper left
corner of the first fold. (The "first fold" is the part of a Web
page that a visitor sees before having to scroll.)
You should NOT have a logo taking up that space -- unless your
site is designed for branding purposes. But, most small business
sites don't have the budget to drive people to their websites to
build a brand name.
You should NOT have a huge portrait of yourself taking up that
space -- unless your site's main goal is to show the world how
beautiful you are, and how well-suited you'd be for somebody's
runway. ;-) Now, make no mistake -- having your picture on a
business site is certainly a good thing. Even so, you don't want
it to be the main focus of your website. But more on that later.
- Review examples of exceptional sales sites.
Learn by example. A few sites I've come across that have their
goals clearly-defined on the front page are:
- Bizpromo Internet Marketing Center: http://bizpromo.com
Notice the subscribe form prominently displayed in the upper left
corner of the home page. This site's main goal seems to be to
sign up as many ezine subscribers as possible. And, if you'll
take a minute to browse through the site, you'll notice that this
subscribe form is on the top left of EVERY page. In this case,
Terry Dean is using his newsletter list as his own personal sales
machine. His subscribers are his prospects, who may later become
- BizWeb2000: http://www.bizweb2000.com
Judging by the links in the top left corner of this site, its
main goal is to help the webmaster build rapport and credibility
with visitors. Then, the search box is to drive people deeper
into the site. But, this "credibility" goal ties into something
bigger -- getting sales. The credibility goal is to get customers
in a buying mood, to trust Jim Daniels and his accomplishments,
and to eventually lead them to the sale.
- What's Next Online: http://whatsnextonline.com
This is one system that I personally love. The focus of this site
is SO clear, I have a hard time believing that this isn't one of
the most successful sites on the Web. It states the goal up front
and immediately -- "Want to sell the pants off your competitors?"
WOW. Go to this site and check out B.L. Ochman's goal statement,
which is actually presented right on the page, after that goal.
First, she draws you in with a question. If you relate to that
question and want to learn more, she tells you straight out to
"come on in," and "let's get to work." Her picture on the right
side of the page is to start building credibility, and you'll
notice that her navigational system is ALSO on the right. Which
leads me to the next point...
- Don't be afraid to break from the norm.
Sure, most Web visitors are "used" to seeing the navigational
system on the left side of a page. But is that really the best
place for it? Does it HAVE to be there? Would you achieve better
results with that list on another part of your page? It depends
on your website's main goal and how your navigational column is
structured. But, in this case, there's no reason to conform to
"the norm" unless this standard method of site design is helping
YOU achieve your site's main goal.
Unless you want navigation to be your visitors first thoughts,
move that to the RIGHT side, or even the top and bottom of your
site. What is the first thing you want your visitors do to? Pay
attention to the message you have in your top left corner, or
lose focus, clicking away from that all important home page to
less goal-oriented pages of the rest of your site? Or worse,
click away to ANOTHER site? If you don't want either of these,
you may want to think about using an "unconventional" system of
- Get help making your site achieve that primary goal.
I've done enough talking about it. Now is the time to SHOW you
how to create an effective business site of your own. What do you
want your site to do?
- Increase credibility and perception of your website, and YOU.
In this case, it IS a good idea to post your picture on the
left-hand side of your home page. NOT a huge picture, (because
you'll need that first fold for other important things), but a
small, pleasant head shot will do the trick. Then, either have a
blurb about how you or your site can help your visitor accomplish
what they came to do. See <http://HomeBasedHeaven.com> for an
example of a site designed to increase credibility and perception
of the site.
- Get more subscribers.
If this is the main goal of your website, you want to have an
enticing description for your ezine(s) and a subscribe form in
the top left corner of your home page. Again, have a look at
<http://BizPromo.com>. If you only have one ezine like Terry Dean
does here, you have an advantage. You can use a small subscribe
form, and use the rest of the left side of the first fold to
introduce any free subscription bonuses you offer, like a
bulleted list of benefits of a free e-book.
- Get the sale on the first visit.
Granted, getting your visitors to buy on their first visit can be
difficult. But that isn't to say that you shouldn't do everything
you can to increase the likelihood of getting that sale! For
example, check out the Online Marketing Letter website at:
notice that this site doesn't even HAVE a navigational system.
Why? The owners want you to go in only ONE direction -- to the
You'll also notice that most sales sites don't really have a
dominant left-hand corner. Instead, the entire first fold is the
most important part of the page, and is used to draw visitors
further into the site. They do this by having powerful headlines,
and usually powerful, summary bullet points to introduce the
For more information on writing headlines that sell,
go to <http://BizProfitBuilder.com/headlines.html> and get "Great
Headlines Instantly, by Robert Boduch. AWESOME product!
Well, there you have it. I hope the examples in this article have
helped get your mind working on how YOU can create a website that
really sells. If you're an *advanced* webmaster of a business or
marketing related site, please feel free to e-mail me at
<MissH@SiteSellingPower.com> to ask quick questions about
this article, or your website. (NOTE: Newbie and intermediate
webmasters, please post your questions to the forum instead, at:
Good luck. Now go out there and use that left-hand side!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Harmony Major is the author of Yahoo! Secrets, where she reveals
how YOU can drive HUNDREDS more visitors to your site each day,
by getting a #1 listing on Yahoo. Don't just settle for "getting
listed." Use her instantly-effective tactics to boost your site
traffic with a TOP Yahoo listing! Visit: http://YahooSecrets.com