"Make A Website"
It's time to make a website a commercial website. You've done your market research, using Google's Traffic Estimator, or perhaps you've gone a step better and used Brad Callen's Keyword Elite program. You've chosen the niche market that fits your interests, and perhaps you've given some thought to how you will "monetize" your website by offering appropriate products, services, or information to be sold on your site.
How to Make Your Website Interactive
So what else is needed to make a website that actually does business online? Primarily, the website must become interactive. This means that it must be equipped to communicate both ways with your prospective customers. You tell your visitors what you can do for them and they tell you what they want and of course they must be able to pay for what they want with the click of a button.
There are many ways that you can use to construct a website that has this capability. We'll discuss just a few of them here. The simplest is an e-mail link that permits the visitor to your website to email you whatever message they please. The downside of the email link is that such links are harvested by spam robots and increase the likelihood that you will receive unwanted computer-generated emails.
The alternative is an online "contact us" form that can require the user to recognize the image of a word and to enter it into a form field. If the word is sufficiently distorted, a person may still recognize it but a robotic spammer is very unlikely to do so thus virtually ensuring that the visitor who submits the form successfully is an actual person. This is highly recommended.
Another good tool to make a website interactive is the autoresponder. Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide autoresponders to their clientele. This is simply a piece of software that resides on your website's hosting server that sends an email message, or series of messages at programmed intervals, to anyone who submits your contact form or any other form that you utilize.
In this way, once your web visitor has contacted you, you can communicate with them as often as you want sending them a series of updates, announcements, sales messages, or, if they "opt in" a series of lessons on a subject that they have asked for or purchased from you.
Still another useful tool to make a website interactive is the online database. Let's say your website is an online catalog store. You present your visitor with a menu of product categories. When the visitor clicks on a link or button that defines a category, a program on the server (like php) queries the database (often in MySQL format) for items in that category and creates a webpage listing all the items in your catalog that are in that category, together with descriptive information, prices, and links that allow the visitor to purchase the item in question.
Properly set up, this feature can make it possible for the visitor to "drill down" through successive sub-categories until they find exactly what they are looking for. They may also be able to search the database in a variety of ways that add to the convenience of the overall experience.
Once your visitor decides to buy something from you, you can make a website more user-friendly yet by providing a "shopping cart" so the visitor can select more than one item to purchase and pay for them all at one time on the "check-out" page. Having a shopping cart on your ISP's server can increase your sales quite noticeably.
On the check-out page you need to be able to receive payment preferably via a choice of multiple payment modalities, such as credit card, PayPal, electronic check, or even an order form to be printed out and mailed in with a check. There are many ways of setting up this capability from having your own merchant account (which is likely to be the most expensive for you) to simply having a bank account registered with PayPal. The more ways you provide for your customers to pay you, the more sales you will make.
However you implement your payment options, you need to be able to assure your customers that their credit card information and personal information, such as their address and phone number, will not go astray making them the victim of identity theft, with all the gruesome consequences that can have. Fortunately, the technology required to make their information secure is well developed these days.
In simplest terms, online ordering is now done by means of cryptography coded messages that are highly secure not so much because they cannot be decoded by someone who intercepts them, but because decoding them would cost so much and take so much time as to not be worth the effort and expense.
In short, when you make a website capable of accepting payments online, assuming you do it properly, your customer's credit card information and identity are much less at risk than they would be if your customer handed his credit card to the waiter in a restaurant or to the clerk in a retail store.
Still another good way to make a website interactive, particularly if the theme of your website involves frequent news about your subject-matter, is to include a blog on your site blog is short for "web log" a form of online discussion group, where your visitors can share their experience with other visitors to the site. Some ISPs make blogs available to their customers, while others don't. At those that don't, you can generally upload blog capability that you got elsewhere.
If not, you can always incorporate blog capability at an ISP specifically set up to promote blogging. In other words, your blog will be hosted by companies like blog.com or wordpress.com in such a way as to seem like part of your site even though it isn't on the same server as the rest of your site. With some forethought and effort on your part, the blog pages can even take on the same "look and feel" as the rest of your site.
With blog capability in place, your website becomes the source of lively and interesting discussions relevant to the theme of your website. Each conversational "thread" or topic of the information thus available engages its readers and often provides a reason for visitors to come back again and again. This is a big plus for your visitors and, of course, for you, since each visit represents another opportunity for you to sell something that the visitor is hoping to find thus increasing the effectiveness with which your site "converts" visitors to customers.
One word of caution about incorporating a blog into your site: blogs are great for news and updates not great for organizing a substantial body of information in a user-friendly format. For that purpose you can't beat the well designed theme-based content-rich site.
These are the basic considerations you need to address when you make a website for commercial purposes. There is one other consideration that must be addressed for this purpose, and we take it up next when we discuss the reasons to
make a website that is "content rich".
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