How To Start An Internet Business Designing For Usefulness
The first step to starting any Internet business is conducting keyword research to determine if there is any interest in your idea. Once you identify a need, its time to consider what your site should look like.
What Is The Goal?
In considering the look of your site, you first need to determine what elements are needed to promote your service or product. There are endless books, forums and people with adamant opinions on the subject. Some opine a site should be all about linking, while others opine creating a community through message boards is the key. A third set righteously point out a site should be slick or cool, while a fourth group will argue just the opposite. So, who is right and who is wrong? The answer isall of them.
When developing a site, the goal is actually very simple. Your site should be useful. Thats it, the big secret. The problem, of course, is useful means different things for different sites.
A site that provides a service to businesses, such as consulting, should focus on content and linking. A site that promotes something related to entertainment should have an element of cool and have message boards to discuss rumors, etc. A site that sells products should focus on linking and loading quickly, i.e., a simple, clean design. The point is that each site is unique and there is no universal answer. Whatever the particular direction of your site, simply make sure it is useful to your users.
Lets use Google as our example. What does Google do? It gives users the ability to search and find relevant information. So, should the home page of Google look cool? Should it have a lot of content on how to conduct searches? Should it have forums to create a sense of community? No, the home page would be most useful if it simply let you search without bombarding you with a lot of clutter. Indeed, the Google home page is just that.
What about a product site? Lets use Nomad Journals http://www.nomadjournals.com – as our example. The site sells writing journals for outdoor activities such as hiking, travel, rock climbing, etc. The site is simple, clean and loads fairly quickly. Unlike Google, the site immediately needs to convey an outdoor impression to visitors. This is accomplished with three outdoor images, a graphic of a nomad and images of the journals. The text is keyword dense, but compact and to the point. The page conveys the nature of the product and the vibe of the business.
On the other end of the spectrum, consider an entertainment site such as American Idol http://www.idolonfox.com. The site is slick, offers polls and has community message boards where fans can post messages about the competition. This is a very good layout for this site, but would be horrible for Google or Nomad Journals.
From the above examples, you can see that there is no universally correct design for a site. Before charging off to build a site, spend at few days considering what it should look like and WHY. Visit sites that you use frequently. Why do you keep going back? What annoys you about other sites? How do these factors translate to your site?
Once you have the answers, you will be on your way.