Every first-time client needs some helpful hints on those things which
should and should not be done. Following is a list of Do's and Don'ts we
feel are essential to online success!
What you can
- You can have as much textual information
as you want - or think your visitor will actually read - online.
- You can have all the low-resolution
photos online as you want. Be very sparing in the use of high-resolution
- You can have short video clips.
- You can have short audio clips.
- You can create online brochures.
- You can create online order forms for
your customers to print and mail or fax back to you.
- You can create online feedback forms for
your customers to fill out online and have them electronically forwarded
to your email account.
- You can utilize your feedback
information to create opt-in mailing and email lists to keep your
customers up to date. (Note: you may not 'opt-in' a customer without
their explicit approval, and you must always provide clear instructions
for how to opt-out and honor all such requests.)
- You can create an online shopping 'mall'
if you choose a merchant services vendor who provides such a service.
Your website can transparently pass your visitors back and forth between
your mall and your main website.
- You can create online product
- You can create online Tips and FAQs
(Frequently Asked Questions [..and Answers]) resources within your site.
What you can't do:
- You can't mass email individuals who
have not specifically opted-into your mailing list. To do so is to spam,
and spam is strictly forbidden -- it's like sending mail postage due.
- You can't mass post advertisements to
Usenet. Again, this is spam too.
- You can't generally automate the order
process and tie it into your accounting and inventory systems unless you
are prepared to invest in significant custom programming and security
your website, you can't violate it except under the most extraordinary
of circumstances. Beware of possible legal repercussions if you do
- You generally can't afford to have large
graphics, photos, videos, or audio streams if you want your website to
be a success. Most of your visitors will still be visiting via a
28.8kbps or 56kbps modem.
What you should do:
- You should generally avoid the
various inexpensive shopping cart solutions currently being sold on
store shelves and mail order. We have tested a number of these
solutions and yet to find any which yielded even marginal results. Of
greater concern have been the serious security issues we have turned up
with many of these packages.
- You should check your email several
times daily and respond to all emails within 24 hours (or 1 business
- You should strive to deliver the same
customer service to your online customers as you would a customer who
shows up at your business in person.
- You should effectively market and
advertise your website. Think of your website as a destination store --
nobody is going to know it exists if you don't place your ad directly in
front of them!
- You should register and re-register your
website with the major search
- You should secure a toll-free 800, 877
or 888 number for sales and customer service. It will encourage
potential out-of-area US customer prospects to call for more information
and place their orders.
- If you are planning to sell items online
- either with an actual online store or via on online catalog and a
toll-free order number - you should obtain a merchant account so that
you may offer your customers the option of paying via Visa or MasterCard
at a minimum (and American Express and Discover won't hurt either.)
- If you collect personal information of
any kind on your website, you should have a page dedicated solely to
the information a customer provides you both now and in the future, what
you absolutely will not do with it, and who and where to contact if a
violation has occurred. Give careful thought and consideration to your
repercussions if you violate it. Don't begin collecting personal
information until you have such a policy clearly posted online.
- You should strive to avoid large
graphics, photos, video and audio streams filling critical functions on
your site. The bulk of your visitors will undoubtedly be via 28.8Kbps
and 56Kbps modems and a large bloated website is a quick turnoff. If you
must offer such content, be sure to offer it as an alternative 'value
- You should try to avoid the use of fancy
common browser plug-in technologies. Many browsers do not support all
these technologies, other don't support them reliably, and yet others
just downright crash and burn when hit with these technologies. A
website that depends on these technologies will only be visible to a
minority of the online community and will, more often than not, turn out
to be a dud no matter how 'cool' it may look on your computer!
What you shouldn't do:
- You shouldn't invest in creating an
online shopping system if your anticipated sales volume is especially
small. The additional overhead in maintaining your online store in
addition to the added monthly expenses will quickly consume any expected
labor savings. Consider investing in a toll-free number instead.
- You shouldn't create a website that is
little more than a glorified "yellow pages ad."
- You shouldn't generally create a website
that is fewer than 4 pages. Visitors come to your site to learn more
about your business and products. If they are disappointed by the lack
of information on your site you can bet you won't be hearing from them!
- You shouldn't create a website and then
forget about it. Websites need to be updated regularly and replaced when
they become entirely out of date or stale.
- You shouldn't spend good money
developing your corporate website, register it with search engines, then
expect to "roll in the dough". Search engines are nice, but the majority
of your traffic needs to come from your marketing of your website, not
search engine hits or you will almost certainly be disappointed.
- You should not assume that your website
will only be viewed by visitors from your local community. A website is
100% public and visible around the world. There is no technology to
limit the exposure of your website. If you can't do business outside of
a particular region, consider stating as much on your website.
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