About a year ago, Google introduced a new featured called Google and BING Instant Previews, which allows search engine users to see a sneak preview of how a website looks like before clicking through. While a lot of search engine optimization involves improving the search engine rank of your website, optimization experts know that click through percentage is equally important.

Your website's 'click through percentage' can be influenced, in part, by how your website looks in Google's instant preview feature.

What does this mean for website owners?

You need to make sure you check out the preview of your website as they relate to your most important keywords and compare the preview page to those of your competitors.

It should be pretty easy, through a quick search, to determine whether your preview is positively influencing click through or if you are losing out to your competitors.

You may realize that, after checking your page out through Google's preview feature, your website needs a little work. If so, don't just update your home page, but all of the pages of your website.

We always warn clients that they only have a few seconds to draw a new visitor into their website and convert them into customers. With Google's instant preview, this is more important than ever.

Eye-catching, user-friendly designs are necessary to compete when it comes to Google Instant Preview.

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Whether you want to advance your existing ecommerce business, you have an existing brick and mortar business that you want to bring online, or you simply have an idea for great web start-up, there are a few things you need to know before getting started.

Understand Your Market

Like any new business venture, you need to understand your market and determine how people are searching for your product. Start by compiling a list of 20 keywords that describe your most popular products and then enter these phrases in Google’s Keyword Tool. From here you will get a feel for whether or not the product you’re looking to offer online is a viable one.

Use Ecommerce Software

Ecommerce software is essential for an online business. Prices for pre-packaged software or customized software may very, so make careful considerations about what your software needs to achieve in relation to your budget.

Be sure to consider the following:

  • Choose software that can easily integrate with other platforms you use.
  • Choose software that integrates or includes warehouse management and stock control.
  • Choose software that is both search engine optimization (SEO) friendly and includes an easy-to-use content management system (CMS).
  • Choose software that has a proven payment gateway that supports ‘token’ authorizations and settlement.

Market Your Website

Simply having a website isn’t enough, it needs to be marketed.

Depending on your budget, there are multiple marketing channels available, including SEO, pay per click marketing (PPC) and social media marketing (SMM), The question to ask yourself is whether or not you can handle these marketing campaigns on your own or if you need to hire an outside firm.

  • SEO: The basics can be applied easily with limited knowledge. However, depending on how competitive your market is, it may be worth it to hire an agency that is well-versed in more advanced techniques.
  • PPC: Platforms such as Google AdWords allow you send instant traffic to your website, which can provide vital traffic while you wait for your SEO campaign to gain traction. If incorrectly set up, however, a PPC campaign can result in overspending. So, think before you act and consider hiring an agency that can manage your account for you.
  • SMM: Build your networks and interact with those who follow you to build you brand both online and off. At its core, social media allows you to interact with your existing and prospective customers to build stronger relationships.

Copyright 2011 dzine it, Inc. web development All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Redesigning your existing website is something that your business should consider doing at least every three years. Internet trends and styles change and if you wait too long to update your website, it can end up looking dated and stale.

When it comes to redesigning your site, look at other existing websites, particularly those representing your competitors or peers, and take note of what you like and what seems to work best. However, it is important to consider the user and what they expect to gain from the site.

One way to ensure the customer satisfaction with your website is to use what's called a user-centered design. This proven process considers the requirements, expectations and skills of the end user at each stage of the design and development process.

By getting users to provide input into each step through the user-centered design (UCD) approach, businesses can avoid time and cost overruns.

Wireframes

When you analyze user needs, you will produce a list of content elements and consider the layout and the functionality of the design. Developing wireframes at this point is the way to go.

Wireframes should consider how users navigate the site. If you plan to adapt the website for mobile or tablet use, now is the time to look at that as well.

Information Architecture

Next, give careful consideration to your content by categorizing it into a coherent structure that people can understand quickly and easily. Information architecture will lead to the design of the site's navigation.

Aesthetics

Next, you can start thinking about the design. Start with simple aesthetics and do user testing.

This stage helps you to save time when you get feedback that something isn't quite right and you need to start again.

Finish

As with any creation, the final stage is to apply the finish. You should think carefully about accessibility in terms of colors, contrast and font sizes.

This approach will result in a better website than a cut and paste job through competitor analysis. However, you're not finished yet. Your website should continue to evolve through user feedback.

Copyright 2011 dzine it, Inc. web design All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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