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Components of a Fantastic Web Site
By David Bell

So you've finally decided it's time to create your own web site. After all, your friends and business associates have one and you don't want to be left behind on the Information Super Highway. Great web sites all have a few common elements about them, and that's what I'll be discussing here. It's usually a good idea to plan the site out on paper before even touching your PC. It can be difficult to come up with content staring at a blank computer screen, so get out an old fashioned pen and paper and let those creative juices flow.

You want to be sure to include all there is to know about your products and/or services. Once you decide on the main topics it's time to plan out the navigation. You need to make it simple and easy for visitors to find their way around your site, otherwise they'll get frustrated and leave. Keep the navigation consistent on all pages so your guests don't have to re-learn the menus from page to page. Graphic links are usually more effective than plain text, but make sure you use something readable and easy on the eyes. Make sure the color of the hyperlinks coordinates with the rest of your site. You should include your contact information at the bottom of every page, at the very least an e-mail address.

Businesses should include phone, fax, and company name too. Not everyone enters a site through the front door and if you fail to include this information, they won't know where they are or how to get in touch with you with comments and/or suggestions. If you surf the 'Net for any length of time, you'll be amazed at just how many sites fail to include this vital information. Including a feedback form with your web site is a good way to add some interactivity and makes it easy for people to ask questions without having to pick up the phone. Graphics make a site visually appealing but, if you use the wrong ones it can leave a bad impression. Make sure to use an unbusy background so the text can be read easily. Surfers are an impatient bunch so make sure the graphics are compressed as much as possible so they download quickly. There are many online utilities that will perform this service for free. You should save simple graphics in a 16 color format rather than 256.

If your site is large you might want to include a search function to help visitors find what they are looking for. The more content you include the harder it gets for visitors to find exactly what they want. A search form makes this simple. HTML editors like MS FrontPage makes it easy to insert search tools into your site and automatically update itself when new pages are added. Having a web site means making constant updates. People want to know that the information they are reading is fresh and new. That being said you should include the last date the page was updated on all of the pages in your site. This lets the public know when changes were last made -- or you can include a "What's New" page that is specifically used for this purpose. Adding a page of related links is another great idea. You can contact other site owners and ask to exchange links or just add other sites that you like that compliment yours.

By asking to exchange links you help generate traffic for each other's sites. The best sites on the 'Net usually offer links to related sites where more information can be found on the same topic. If you can write a brief description next to each link all the better. If you do include a link page check it occasionally to remove dead links. It's very annoying to click on a link and get an error. If you take all of these tips and implement them on your web site, you'll have an interesting, well-designed site that people will want to return to again and again. Anyone can easily get on the Information Super Highway, but it's up to you to decide on what kind of "car" you want to be seen in.

I hope this helps in your future marketing decisions.

About the Author David Bell is Manager, Online Marketing, at http://www.wspromotion.com/ , a leading Search Engine Optimization services firm and Advertising Agency.