Creating a successful blog or website

If you are thinking of starting your own blog or website, make sure you know how to make your online presence successful. Now days, it is so easy to put up a professional looking web-page or website online in minutes using existing templates or menu-driven choices. But that alone is not going to do the trick if no one comes to the website. For brining-in or retaining website visitors, you will need to do more. Whether you have big or small ideas for your first online presence endeavors, a focus on best practices, as discussed here, will help you succeed.

Regardless of your website strategy, you will need to know these basics concepts to succeed:

  • functionality of your website
  • audience or web user requirements
  • technological requirements
  • marketing strategies
  • measure performance

Functionality of your website

Let's start with the basics. First, know what you want to write about or what services or products your website will provide. Ask yourself:

  • Is your website or blog for informational only?
  • Will you be selling online (e-commerce- doing business transactions online)?
  • Is your website to promote awareness of some cause or services you or your business offers?
  • Is your website meant to drive customers to your brick-and-mortar store or shop?

Knowing what your website or blog is to do for you may seem not worth mentioning but it is not always clear and is an important part of where you start. Look at all the major websites in use today. Their founders did not know everything how their website will evolve overtime. Amazon.com, for example, was meant to sell just books but today it sells more than just books. So the idea is to start with what you think you will be best in. If you have skills to provide information, create a blog or website that does just that. If you, however, have skills to build stuff, then, you know you are likely to build a website that is geared toward selling (or providing information on) your products. Note: this does not mean a website that provides just information cannot sell stuff or vice versa. Again, the idea is to create a basic road map for your blog or website so you set a tone for what your online users to expect.

Audience or web user requirements

Audience or web users are very important to any websites. Without them, any website will fail. Not only you want web users, you want them to stay at your website to browse, read, spend money, or whatever else your website is set to do. You also want them to come back to use your website again.

Realize people just don't come running to a website with pockets full of cash to through away money at a website. You also don't have sales staff online to ask customers questions or to serve customers. You have to your website to do all that. It can be done only if you understand the audience and their needs you are trying to fulfill.

Know how you want to tailor your website to targeted web audience. Are you creating your website for just children, just women, just men, just seniors, just the elite, or other groups, or in some combination of these? In each of the cases, your website will need to target the web audience differently. If, for instance, your web audience is children, use less text and more pictures or animations; for women audience use pink colors (don't forget jewelry), for men use blue color, for seniors make sure your text is in larger fonts, and so on.

Don't mistake that web users are just only the basics groups mentioned in the previous paragraph. There are other web targeted groups (or more specific groups) for each website or section of a website. For instance, a website targeted to travelers is not going to sell you a video or book to better your programming skills. Travelers are interested more in enjoying their leisure time than to learn on programming skills. So why are we selling programming skills to a traveler? If you are asking this question, then you know that the right audiences for learning programming skills are those who are interested in programming. A technical website, for instance, would be a suited place to sell programming skills products, not a trawler’s website.

Technological requirements

Beside deciding on the tone of your website and targeting the web to the right audience, you need to consider the technical details of your online project. For this ask yourself these questions:

  • What hardware requirements do you anticipate needing now and in the near future?
  • Do you need a dedicated web or database server?
  • Will you host your website on a shared server?
  • What is the software technology you want to use? How will your pages be written? Will they be written in HTML, ASP, PHP, or other scripting formats?
  • Do you need any other special software support extensions (FrontPage, components to send emails, and so on)?
  • Do you have the necessary software to write the pages? Do you have HTML skills? Do you need HTML skills with the HTML-authoring solution you have chosen?
  • Do you need any custom programming (to register users to your website, allow people to post to your website, and so on)?

If all of this goes over your head, your best option is probably to outsource some of the technical tasks to the appropriate person. Talk with your friends or search online to determine the right mix of technologies for your website.

Here are some helpful considerations in choosing web technologies:

  • Make sure your solution loading speed is reasonably fast (or as fast as competitor’s websites). Is there anyone who wants to wait for more than 20 seconds for a page to load? If a page does not load quickly enough, realize people will leave to the next website.
  • Choose a solution that is easy to use. After all, websites are not meant as build once and forget for a few years. Websites to be successful they need to have current and relevant information. Updating or making changes to the website should be straight-forward for you or the developer you hire.
  • Use technologies that are best suited for your target audience. A classic example is to avoid using Flash if your targeted audiences don't have the Flash plug-ins installed. A rule of thumb is if the user has to install any special plug-ins or software to run or view your website or web page, avoid use of that technology. It is so easy for people to leave a website for alternative sources than to install additional plug-ins. I am not suggesting you never use Flash, videos, or other enhancements on your website rather use them knowingly that most people won't (or won't choose to) view the extra features. After all, you are designing a website for your targeted audience. If, however, your targeted audiences require use of flashy enhancements, then, there is no reason to avoid use of Flash.

Marketing strategies

This involves asking yourself how you will bring web users to your website or blog. Are you going to be advertising locally? Will you advertise on search engines or other websites? Are you going to offer any incentives (such as click to see if you win an IPod) to bring in visitors?

As mentioned earlier, web visitors are the driving force of a website. When a web visitor comes to a website, think of it as if the website came into life or existence. If people across the globe continuously access the website every second, the website will live every second of the day. When this happens, the website is likely to turn into a cash machine. On the other hand, if the website is rarely accessed and it comes into life every few weeks (or days) to give an extreme example, the website should not be expected to generate much cash.

So brining in the right traffic to a website is the key to be successful online. Know there are billions of pages by some estimates on the web. Finding any page out of billions of records (pages) is tricky. If a particular web page comes up repeatedly, it will be visited most often. If a page, on the other hand, does not come up or rarely is revealed, the web page is unlikely to be seen by many. Here are some techniques to keep in mind as you create your website and beyond:

  • pay attention to search engine optimization guidelines
  • make sure to optimize your website for Google search guidelines. Google is the primary search referral for hundreds of website traffic results I have seen.
  • market your website on other websites
  • use email marketing to promote your website. Have users sign up for a news letter and send them frequent updates of your website.
  • seek links from other website owners

Measure performance

After you have exhausted all of your energy on other techniques mentioned above, it is time to see how you are doing (or specifically how your website is doing). If your goal behind creating your website was to make $5000 a month from your website, you can easily tell if this happened by what you made and spent. Rather, if your goal this month was to increase the web traffic by 10 percent from previous month, you will need to dig in to your web traffic log file(s). There are commercial programs that can analyze webs traffic (you can even use Google Analytics - a free tool from Google). So what do you learn from web traffic reports? This what you will see in the reporting:

  • number of visits,
  • page views,
  • average visited pages per visitors,
  • average time on your website,
  • number of referrals from search engines and websites,
  • most visited pages,
  • types of browsers used,
  • Geographical information of the user,
  • any errors,
  • and so on

Know web traffic reports cannot alone tell you everything that you want to know about your website performance. You also have to look at other places to assess the performance of your website. Did you, for instance, get any feedback from the web users? The idea behind measuring performance is to improve your website to offer better service to your web users.

Conclusion

Start about creating successful website or blog the right way. Start with a basic road map to set the tone for your website or blog. Keep your initial website or blog goals to a manageable size. It is okay to say you want to be the next Google or Yahoo! but realize this does not happen overnight. It will initially and continuously involve a lot of work. Whether or not your plans are perfect, there always will be room for some improvement.

Remember a website or blog is reflection of you or your business. As such, it is important to create your website or blog in the right way. Hopefully, information found above will help you just do that - build a strong and successful website. Seek professional help if needed.

Posted on 11/17/2007
23,476 views
by Raj Singh