Is YOUR Website Ready for the Public?
1999, by Harmony Major

It truly does pain me to see the number of "business" websites out there that just don't belong. If you conduct a search on Alta Vista for "home business tips," I guarantee you you'll see at least six out of the top ten listings that are breaking some of the most important web design rules, and yet others that wreak bloody HAVOC on your eyes.

You know the ones I'm talking about. They make you cringe; they make you holler; they make you glad that YOUR site doesn't look like that grade school horror show ... Or DOES it?

And, how do you go about finding out?

As much as we'd all like to think that our Web design skills are Utopian perfection, in actuality, they leave more than a little to be desired. A website consultation is a very good and final way to make sure that a website is ready to be released to the public ... and to eliminate the embarrassment that's sure to come if we don't wise up and find a good consultation service.

Make sure that you choose a top quality service to maximize your website's potential for success. Here are some of the things that any website consultant should be able to tell you when you request their service:


a.) Meta Tag Diagnosis

Are your meta tags formatted correctly? This will involve looking at the meta tags on your web pages, and letting you know if you have any errors that search engines will penalize you for, (like if your meta tags have too many characters in them, if you've repeated keywords too many times, etc.).

The consultant should be able to give you an idea of whether or not you can expect a high placement in search engines with your meta tag format. The meta tag diagnosis should also include ways to improve your tags, correct any penalties, and get you a higher placement in search engines if your tags aren't already optimized correctly.


b.) Website Load Time

Do your pages load fast enough? Are your images causing your pages to load slower than necessary? Load time is very important, because a visitor to your site won't wait more than a few seconds for your pages to load. You could be losing valuable visitors with a slow-loading website.

The load time check should tell you approximately how long your pages are taking to load, what could be causing this, and how you can fix it. This check should also include any tips that you can use in the future to keep your pages loading as fast as possible.


c.) Navigational System

Do you provide your visitors with an easy way to get around your website, or will they get lost easily? A confusing navigational system will cause you to lose valuable visitors (customers!), and is imperative for a successful website. The navigational system diagnosis should let you know if your system is effective, and if not, give several ways to improve it. However, there is usually at least one way to improve ANY navigational system to thoroughly ensure that it's as easy as possible to use.


d.) Content Value of Your Website

The "content" value is simply how valuable the content or information on your site is to your visitors. A high content value means that your site is very informative, has fresh, updated, and original information, and gives your visitors a reason to come back. This test should also tell you how to maximize the effectiveness of your website content, and perhaps even where or how to find information that your visitors will enjoy.


e.) Browser Compatibility

This very important test will tell you if your website is being viewed properly in all of the major browsers. A lot of websites aren't optimized for Netscape's browser, due to all of the plugins that Netscape's customers may or may not have, and also because of the unique (crazy!) way that Netscape can tend to read your HTML code.

One small error that would be overlooked by Microsoft's browser can cause Netscape's browser not to even display your pages! The browser compatibility diagnostics test should also be able to tell you how to properly optimize your website for maximum compatibility in most browsers.


f.) Spelling and Grammar

Do you have a slew of spelling and grammatical errors? This diagnostics check will let you know. Although you may proofread your website for errors, it's very likely that there are still quite a few that you overlooked. It's much harder to proofread your own work. When your brain knows what a word is SUPPOSED to be, it can tend to make your eyes read it that way, regardless of what it really says.

You can help to eliminate this problem by asking one of your colleagues or friends to proofread your site for errors before you release it to the public. This will cut down even more on the amount of spelling and grammatical errors that you'll find. However, the spelling and grammar diagnostics test should point out any existing errors that may have been overlooked, and may even offer suggestions to correct the errors.


g.) A Continuous Theme

Does your homepage have a myriad of different ideas, concepts, or programs that have absolutely nothing to do with the main focus of your website? Are all of your pages related to one similar topic, or is your site a veritable cesspool of unrelated ideas?

Most visitors will come to your site for one reason only -- the reason that you advertised to get them there! Don't confuse them by having tons of unrelated content on your website, or you'll be sure to turn them away. This diagnostics check should tell you if your website sticks to a constant theme, or skips from subject to subject. It should also give you a few tips and pointers to get you moving in the right direction.


Now that you know all of the things that a quality website consultation will tell you, are you going to spend weeks trying to optimize your own website? Or, are you going to invest a few extra dollars into the success of your business by hiring a professional website consultant?

If a professional website and image is important to you, this will prove to be a very small and reasonable investment -- especially when you could potentially waste hundreds of dollars later on down the road on tweaking and perfecting your own soon to be "out-of-control" site.

NOTE: For a few of the categories above, you can use a free service to evaluate your site, like the one at http://NetMechanic.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Excerpted from 'Simply, eBusiness', Harmony Major's online business and marketing startup guide. Learn how to start an online business, acquire money-making online marketing techniques, and profit like never before! Get the guide at http://SimplyeBusiness.NET




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