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DO'S AND DON'TS OF CREATING A WEB SITE CUSTOMERS WILL LOVE

Published on .

Maybe you're the kind of marketer who has an intuitive understanding of the online medium, who understands instantly how to integrate interactivity and multimedia into a text-based page. And maybe you're not.

In case you're floundering a bit in the Net surf, take the time to look over this list of Definite Don'ts: Marketing tactics that guarantee unpopularity for a company and something less than success for its Web site.

nThe door (the first page) fails to catch the consumer's attention. If you don't grab customers immediately, they may grab their mouse and click away to another site. First impressions are important online.

nThe site's pages take too long to load because of too many graphics. Graphics are visually stimulating and as effective for communicating information as text; they also frustrate visitors with slow connections. Before you launch your site, you may want to test-surf it on an "average" computer, a Macintosh or PC from three or four years ago, just to be certain that users will be able to navigate smoothly and quickly.

nThe site fails to treat the Web as a new, interactive medium. Don't just present content that's readily available elsewhere; if you do, people will begin to refer to your site as an online "brochure," and before you know it, no one will be visiting.

nThe site is insufficiently creative and overly stiff; it lacks a sense of fun or imagination. The Web is not as conservative as other media; pitches should come at the customer a little off-center, with attitude.

nThe site has no content. Multimedia is flashy, sure, but it will only hook customers if it's working in harmony with interesting content. At the same time it's dangerous to build a site that's composed entirely of content (boring), while a site that depends entirely on effects will be quickly written off as flashy and insubstantial.

nThe site is overly commercial. In keeping with the Internet ethos, a site should include valuable information or entertainment.

nThe site is difficult to navigate. One rule of thumb is that content should never be more than three clicks away. Always give visitors plenty of chances to return to the home page.

nThe site is not updated regularly. Even the coolest site needs to be changed over time, so don't create content you can't afford to update.

nThe site does not allow customers to contact the company. Without an e-mail link, sites can seem off-putting and unfriendly; also, you won't get the benefit of your customers opinions.

nThe site is always under construction. The Web is an evolving medium, but the sense of unfinished business can frustrate visitors.

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