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5 Components Your Business Web Site Needs

5 Components Your Business Web Site Needs

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    Last week I talked about why a strong web site is crucial to your business. Today I’m going to talk about five components your web site needs and why you need them. Bear in mind, however, that these five aren’t the only components you need. At the end of the article, I’ll mention a couple of other things you may want to include. Now, you can’t just slap these components on a web site and have something great. You’ll still need some solid graphic design, good usability and ease of navigation, plus you definitely want to make sure your design, copy, and code are developed using principles of search engine optimization. With those cautionary notes aside, let’s dive in to the five components you need for a successful web site.

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    1. Opt-In Box

    If you’re not capturing your visitor’s details with an opt-in box, you’re missing one of the greatest marketing tools available online today. An opt-in box is a place where people enter their name and e-mail address (or just their e-mail address, but I’ve found it’s useful to have more information), and then they subscribe to your e-mail newsletter or e-zine (pronounced “EE-zeen”). You can start building a relationship with your subscribers with regular, useful contact (defining “regular, useful contact” is a separate article in and of itself).

    2. Who you are

    Generally speaking, if you’re selling either a product or a service, you’ll want your customers or clients to trust you. Part of building trust is sharing a bit about you and how your company got started.

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    3. What you do

    Obviously, if you want to sell your products or services, you’ll need to talk about them. This is where good marketing copywriting comes in handy. If you’re not good at writing marketing copy that converts visitors into buyers, hire someone who knows how to do it well. Investing in good copywriting can make all the difference.

    4. Sticky content

    Sticky content refers to any content on your web site that attracts people and keeps them there, kind of like flypaper. Consider your blog, articles, audio and videos, and other resources, to be the flypaper that keeps visitors “stuck” to your site. The longer they stay at your site, the more likely they are to convert into buyers. There is, however, a point where your content will hit critical mass and can be too sticky. If you give too much away, your potential buyers won’t need to buy. They’ll settle for the freebies and never convert into sales.

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    5. Contact Information

    Potential clients and customers will want to know how to contact you for several reasons. If they can contact you, they can buy from you with the assurance that if they experience any troubles with the product, they’ll be able to ask questions or process returns easily. Also, they can ask you questions before they buy. There’s a long list of other reasons customers and clients may want to contact you, and they’ll feel safer buying if they can contact you easily. So provide at least phone and e-mail, and if you can, provide a physical address as well. If you work from home, don’t post your home address. Instead, get a P.O. box or a box at the UPS Store and post that instead.

    If you’re selling products or services online, in addition to these five components, you’ll do well to invest in a shopping cart system and a payment processing system. Forcing potential buyers to contact you to get purchasing information ensures that those buyers will go elsewhere most of the time. We live in a high-demand, instant gratification world. If someone is shopping in the middle of the night or on a Sunday and they want what you have to offer but they can’t get it when they want it, they’ll buy it from someone else who can deliver instantaneously. Don’t give your potential buyers a reason not to buy from you.

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    So how do you implement all this stuff? How do you get a web site with these components, plus good design, good usability, and strong SEO? Next week, I’ll talk about how to hire a web firm to design your site. I’ll tell you how to educate yourself so you know enough to ask the right questions and know when you’re getting the right answers, how to balance value and price, and what red flags to watch out for.

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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