18 Steps to A Better Website

It seems that almost every business today has a website but most websites designs don’t work very well. Many are actually detriments to the companies they represent. First and foremost the website should revolve around your prospective customers.

Every idea and information conveyed must keep them in mind. Your site should address their needs, wants, desires, fears and problems. Make sure your website focuses on your prospective customers’ and customers’ interest and not those of your company.

Know your targeted audience better than you know your best friend. If your website isn’t as good as you like, we can help you bring it to the next level.

Step 1: Grab the Viewer’s Attention

Task: Make each of your web pages grab the viewer’s attention.

You have seven seconds to grab an Internet viewer’s attention before they click away. Use headlines and images to draw the viewer in and encourage them to read on. The first impression may be all you get.

Make sure your headline gets read. The headline is one of the most important elements of any web page. The main purpose of the headline is to grab the reader’s attention and make him or her stop long enough to notice and start reading your web page. The first three sentences of the web page copy must be good. Don’t lose the reader after the Headline. Make sure your first three sentences of the copy make the reader want to read the entire page.

The first three sentences of the copy should expand the headline and stress benefits. These sentences follow up the message of the headline and address the benefits of your product/service to the reader (matching their needs, wants, desires, fears and problems). By the end of the third sentence, the reader should want to read the entire web page.

Step 2: The Visuals Must Work With the Headline

Task: Make sure that the primary visual supports the message of the headline. A photo says a 1,000 words. Make sure they work with your message.

The web page should be illustrated with visual elements that visually tells the same message as the headline but don’t let your visual overpower the headline’s message. Many web designers create award winning web designs that are wonderful to look at but don’t increase sales at all. This is a waste of time and money.

Step 3: The First Three Sentences Must Be Good

Task: Don’t lose the reader after the Headline. Make sure your first three sentences of the copy make the reader want to read more.

The first three sentences of the copy should expand the headline and stress benefits. These sentences follow up the message of the headline and address the benefits of your product/service to the reader (matching their needs, wants, desires, fears and problems).

Step 4: The Layout Should Invite

Task: Make your web pages easy to read and visually pleasing.

The web page layout should be inviting, friendly, and draw the reader’s eye into the web page in a positive manner. Avoid layouts that make it hard to read and especially layouts that distract from the visitor. When there are two competing focal points, the reader’s eyes don’t know where to start and readership declines.

Don’t assume that the Home page is the first page a visitor sees. Search engines may direct a visitor directly to a subordinate page. Treat each page as it’s the first impression for the visitor. Use fonts that are easy to read onscreen and are large enough for those viewers that have poorer vision.

Carefully choose colors. Keep your targeted audience in mind as well as company branding efforts. If you choose a background color other than white, make sure that the text colors are easy to read against this background.

Step 5: The Body Copy Should Be Persuasive

Task: Make sure that the body copy is persuasive and expands the message of the headline and first paragraph.

Start by remembers the goal is to sell products or services. We do this by also remembering “what’s important to the targeted prospective customer?” While many web pages may be informational in nature or serve other functions, the main goal is to sell. Make sure you build a persuasive message throughout the website that highlights the benefits buying from you brings to the prospective customer.

Show how your company or products/services solve problems, reduces fears or satisfies their needs, wants or desires. The copy is also important for search engine rankings. Be sure to mix in important search engine keywords into the body. Do your research and discover the top keywords your prospective customer use to find you and your competitors.

Step 6: Be Specific

Task: Don’t waste your reader’s time. Give them the information they need quickly.

Good web pages are effective largely because they are specific. It gives the prospective customer the specific information he or she needs to make a decision and it creates a believable persuasive message. Be clear but don’t overwhelm the reader with too many facts and figures. If the reader wants this, link it to subordinate pages.

If you use too many figures and facts, you loose the easy flow and readability of the ad. Remember the prospective customer’s needs, wants, fears, desires and problems and provide specific information needed to create your sales pitch.

Step 7: Write In A Casual Style

Task: Make sure that the style of your writing is similar to conversations.

Write your web page copy in a style that is clear, simple, natural and conversational in style. A good ad should sound like one friend talking to another.

Step 8: Highlight Your USP

Task: Make sure that the reader knows what makes your company and its products/services unique and different.

There is something unique about your company. Even if there are thousands of companies selling the same thing you are. There is some reason customers buy from you and not them. If you don’t know why, ask your customers. Once you know, make sure that your prospective customers visiting your website know too.

Step 9: Next Steps

Task: Make sure your prospective customer knows what to do next.

Make sure that the reader knows what to do next and ask them to do it. Decide first what type of response you want from the reader. This is the action you want the reader to take next. For example:

  • To phone your company
  • To e-mail your company
  • To print a coupon and take it to a retail store
  • To request a catalog or sales brochure
  • To test-drive your product/service, or
  • To buy directly via a website or phone center

Next, tell the reader to do it in the last paragraph of your web page copy. Immediately after this, give the reader the mechanism for responding such as a tool-free phone number, website, etc. Too many web pages forget to “sell.”

Step 10: Prove Your Claims

Task: Prospective customers don’t have a great deal of trust for companies or products/services they haven’t used. Back up your claims.

Use facts, figures, testimonials, survey results, laboratory test results, etc. to help support the claims you make on the web page but be sure to not break up the flow of the message. One strategy is to have the viewer click on a link to see the chart or graph that supports a claim. In this way only those that want the additional proof get it and your message isn’t broken up for other readers.

Step 11: Establish Credibility

Task: Similar to Step 10, help build your message by establishing that your company is a credible company.

Remember, people don’t want to get burned so they will buy from companies that seam credible and reliable. List awards, post customer testimonials, list out credentials, experience and what ever else that will help make the prospective customer feel better about your company and its products/services.

Step 12: Easy, Simple Navigation

Task: Make sure that the viewer knows what to expect, what to do, where they are and how to get to everything you have within the website.

Your navigation should allow easy access to the breadth and depth of your entire website. It should be organized in a manner that follows the cognitive thinking of the targeted audience. Content should be where they expect it to be. The viewer should have multiple ways to reach the same point and not be forced in one vertical or horizontal path such as returning to the Home page to move around.

Another key point in navigation is to avoid burying important information. Everything important to the user should be within one, two or at worse case three clicks away.

Step 13: Performance

Task: Make sure that the reader never has to wait for downloads and the visual elements show up like they are supposed to.

Don’t make visitors wait. Assume that every visitor has a slow dial up connection and design the website to perform well even in these conditions. Also make sure that your website looks the same on every version of all of the popular web browsers and on all computer platforms.

Step 14: Website Interaction

Task: Make sure that your website offers interactive elements.

Interaction is one of the most important elements of a good website. Think of a website like a telephone conversation. The viewer wants to interact with your site to get information and often to give information. Most websites are only one-way: giving information. There are five basic forms of interaction:

Feedback – Your customers or prospective customers tell you what they think of your company and its products/services.

Creativity and Productivity – This is where you allow your viewers to “do” something or “make” something. For example, car manufacturers have websites that allow you to build your own car to your specifications. In the end of this process, you can see your customized car and ist cost.

Control – Here you allow the user to control parts of the site. For example, they can chose what language to view the content in, block out sections that they have no interest in, etc.

Communication – People love to talk. A good website allow the viewers to talk with each other, listen, identify themselves, share thoughts, and tell their own story. Web content like this include discussion groups, community bulletin boards, chat rooms, feedback forms, live customer service online, etc.

Adaptivity – The most valuable interactive elements are those that are adaptive. This means that it changes for each visitor to meet specific needs, interests, skills and behaviors.

Step 15: Location, Location, Location

Task: Make sure that the website serves your customers where they are. Where are your customers? What languages do they speak?

What time zone are they in? Are there regulatory differences in different countries? Does the content of your website need to change to address these various differences? Do you need a different website for Europe, Asia and the United States, for example? Will the performance of your website improve with multiple sites?

Step 16: Website Maintenance

Task: Make each of your web pages grab the viewer’s attention.

Most people forget this important aspect of a good website when they design it. As a result, many sites contain outdated information, buttons that lead nowhere, links that are broken or outdated, and graphics that don’t load. Make sure you set aside a piece of your marketing budget for regular website maintenance.

Step 17: Search Engines

Task: Search Engines

As more and more websites join the Internet, it becomes harder and harder for website owners to keep up with the search engine requirements and keep your web page high on each search engines’ list.  Be sure to implement a regular program to optimize your position in the search engines.

Step 18: Segmentation

Task: Make sure that your website addresses the unique needs of each segment of your prospective customers.

If you have different products/services serving different prospective customers, segment your website to their unique needs. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Your message will be less effective if you do.


Checklist for Good WebSites

  1. Headline. Is the headline the primary visual of the web page? Does it attract the reader?
  2. First Paragraph. Does the first paragraph encourage the reader to read the rest of the web page?
  3. Page Titles. Do the titles for each page make sense? Do they help navigate your website?
  4. Segmentation. Don’t treat all visors the same. If your customers’ need vary significantly, create separate content for each segment.
  5. Visual. Does the web page contain good visuals? Does it support but not overpower the headline?
  6. Organization. Is the website organized in a manner that is easy to follow and easy to navigate?
  7. Performance. Do the web pages load quickly? Do pages look the same on all versions of the popular browsers? Do visitors have to download a browser plug-in or will each page work on all versions of popular browsers?
  8. Branding. Does the website conform and support branding efforts for the company and/or its products/services?
  9. Product. Does the website contain persuasive information about the product/service that are important to the targeted  audience?
  10. Layout. Is the ad inviting to the eye? Is it easy to read? Is there too much copy text? Does it help establish credibility?
  11. Prospective Customer’s Paradigm. Is the web page written and presented with the prospective customer’s point of view  in mind or the company’s? Does it address the prospective customer’s wants, needs, desires, fears etc.?
  12. Believability. Does the web page “ring true” or does it make statements without believable support?
  13. Ask for a Response. Does the final paragraph of the copy on each web page ask the reader for a response and does the web page provide a means to respond?
  14. Specific. Is the information specific, clear and important to the prospective customer?
  15. Key Information. Does the website include key information such as store locations and hours, telephone number, website,   credit card acceptance, etc.? Is all important information above the fold meaning onthe screen and scrolling is not required?
  16. Style. Is the writing style conversational in nature? Is it written inf irst person or addressed to the viewer?
  17. Content. Is the content fresh and does the website give the viewer a reason to return again and again?

Common Functions of A Website Design
There are a number of reasons to have a website and a great deal of functionality that a website can provide. Here are some common and some not as common functions of a website.

  • Corporate Information
  • Investor Information
  • Product Information
  • Commerce System
  • Communities & Social Networking
  • Online Customer Survey
  • Search Function
  • Notification Agent
  • Product Deliver Over the Internet
  • Personalized or Customized Services and Information
  • Events and Promotions
  • Online Applications, Resumes and Forms
  • Online Directories
  • Intranets
  • Extranets
  • Promotion of Political, Religious or Other Viewpoints
  • Genelogoy and Family Networking
  • Content and File Sharing

Case Studies

Case Study: Law Firm Builds Credibility

A small law firm practicing both corporate work and real estate transactions faced stiff competition from larger attorney practices. The firm needed to attract new clients and establish credibility but had a very small marketing budget. Next Level created a simple but elegant website design that allowed the law firm to establish its presence in the market, share information about its firms, its attorneys and its services in an economically efficient manner.

Other Resources

“A moving rock grows no mold.”

The world is continually changing and as such education and information are vital for success. The process of growing your business mandates that you continually improve your knowledge, skills and experience. The following list of resources is by no means all inclusive of what you need but do represent resources that have helped our firm get to the Next Level.

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