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The form and the contents of your website must always conform to a clear purpose.  There is no "one fits all" formula.  For example, THIS website is NOT suitable for a public audience.  It was created for a very narrow audience, with two simple purposes: 
1 - To inform 
2 - To select. 
We know that only serious prospects would go through the trouble of reading all this information.  That's perfect for what we want. 
Your website will probably look very different from this one.  There's little chance that you would  have goals similar to ours.  Obviously, a site meant for the general public needs less text, more graphics, and a different kind of visitor incentive.  So: what exactly do you want your website to do?  This is the most important question.

There are two basic issues: planning and promotion. 

First of all, the main goal of your website must be clearly defined.  Is it to sell, to inform, to entertain, or just to support a corporate image?  The principal incentive offered to potential visitors (as mentioned before) depends on this main goal.   

A website doesn't have to start with expensive features, such as customized programs.  Many advanced gadgets can be emulated at low cost, without the visitor knowing the difference.  For example, you can have interactive order forms that come to you as readable e-mails - instead of automated processing.  You can get automated processing later, after you get enough "manual orders" to justify the effort.   

More important at the beginning is to pay attention to the contents and the structure.  The contents should deliver on the initial promise mentioned to your visitors when the site is promoted.  Beyond that - the website can be used as a sales tool.  While other forms of advertising don't allow unlimited space for information, on the Internet you have all the space you need - and then some.  As long as it doesn't become too boring or too pushy, your website can be your most efficient window display.  People will follow it, and every paragraph can offer them an extra motivation.   

The structure must be not only easy to navigate - but also simple to maintain.  Keep in mind that the hypertext language is NOT linear, like a movie or a novel.  So if you have a messy structure that requires twenty link changes for every little update, suddenly your website becomes "high maintenance".  We can help you avoid such pitfalls.   

About promotion: your website MUST be mentioned in any other media that you are using besides the Internet.  At least your site address, if nothing else.  It costs close to nothing to add "www.whatever.com" to your stationery, packaging, and any current advertising.  Wherever you have room, you should also include a psychological incentive to visit your site. 

For example, we can often produce three TV commercials for the price of one.  (That's because, in most situations, producing three commercials at the same time will not add too much to our costs).  So why not have two commercials about your business, and the third one promoting your website? 

Many Internet experts will try to assure you that having your website on major search engines and exchanging links is enough to promote it.  Sure, being on major search engines is not a bad idea.  However, that is NOT enough.  As far as exchanging links - that can be distracting to your visitors.  After you work hard to attract your visitors, why would you add links that show them so many ways OUT?   

So using other media is the best answer.  Major Internet-based businesses, such as Amazon.com, always advertise on TV, in newspapers, or you can see their name on bus signs.  Those people aren't crazy.  If internet promotion was enough, they wouldn't spend the money.   

The incentive for your potential visitors doesn't even have to be something material.  They only need a mental motivation. 

Example: there's a major wine producer that prints its website name on all its bottles, and in any advertising.  Now why would anyone go through the trouble of turning on the computer and logging on the Net, just to visit some winemaker's website?  That's  crazy.  But what if in one ad there was a line like "Become a wine connoisseur.  Impress your special guests.  Visit ourwebsite.com."  Probably a lot of people would visit now.  Incidentally - such a statement would also convey the idea that this is a wine for connoisseurs.  Not bad at all for the company image!  So dedicating a bit of ad space to promote your website is not necessarily a sacrifice. 

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