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Guest author Kelly McCausey discusses how to build a website that isn't awful. Women who really want to improve their home business websites will appreciate her candor.

What Does Your Website Say About You?
By, Kelly McCausey

I have gotten into trouble a couple times lately for offering advice about websites without invitation. I told one gal that I know my bluntness is a character flaw and I was sorry. I am sorry, uninvited advice is obnoxious. At the same time, I just don't believe in wearing rose colored glasses and I won't help someone else wear them either.

Too many WAHM sites are just plain awful. The design is sloppy and the content is impossible to navigate. Either the WAHM had gone "swap crazy" and has way too many banner ads stacked up on front page or she has gone "graphic crazy" and spent more time decorating her site than promoting it.

There is a balance in everything. Graphics are essential and some ad swapping is great. But what is most important is a visually appealing presentation and easy navigation.

I won't claim to be perfect. I have not been to design school. I am a WAHM! Self taught and often corrected! I am a pretty good desktop publisher so I have an eye for a good set up and that extends well to web design. Otherwise, I owe whatever good I do to observing what I have liked about other sites and duplicating it. (Not copying - that would be wrong.)

I'm going to assume that most WAHMs want to make money from their website and not just show it off. These are the WAHMs that I am going to speak to in this article.

Take a good look at your website.

Can a customer tell from the first page what you sell? If not, you're already in trouble. A customer doesn't care how many cute images you found to use. They especially don't want to "vote for your site" right now. They want to know if you sell something they want to buy. The main page is for the customer, plain and simple. There should be a clear path to your products or services.

Are you trying to sell too many different things? Some WAHMs get an idea and start on it. A few weeks go by without making any money and so they add another idea and work on that. And then another, and then another! Before you know it you have a crazy bundle of products, services and affiliate programs and you haven't a clue how to handle them all!

It is my advice to stick to something you are crazy about and leave the other stuff to others! Besides, if you have too many different products you are going to have a promotional nightmare. You won't advertise two different products exactly the same way so you will have to duplicate promotion efforts. And if this going on for too long, you will spend more time promoting than selling.

It can take three months to get your site listed on search engines (unless you have a few hundred dollars to spend on insertion fees) so don't become discouraged about a product that isn't doing well early on. Share it, share it, share it and let time take it's course. Now, if a year goes by and it's a flop - now it's time to drop it and look for something else!

Graphics should lend description to the site, not just decoration. Angels and bears and snowmen are cute! And they can be used as a theme - but don't over do it! There are hundreds of awesome free graphic sites, but don't be too quick to use free graphics on your main page. You want to begin to create an original memory in the mind of your potential customer. I rarely buy from a site the first time I visit. But if it makes an impression on me, I'll remember what they sold and go back when I have a need for items they carry. If your site looks like a hundred other sites, they might not remember you later.

It can be worth the extra expense to buy an original webset from a graphic artist who will not sell the same graphics to anyone else. Or, better yet, use a custom logo that will help people remember what you sell!

How is your site set up? Is everything centered right down the middle? Does your page run about six feet in height? Whatever you have after the first couple of scrolls will probably never be seen. Do you have a smattering of images here, there and everywhere? It is very hard to know where to look on a site like this. Most visitors will just give up and leave.

This is what you have to keep in mind: If you are building your own site, you spend hours and hours at it. You know your content left and right and upside down. You can find anything in a moment (at first that is!). So unless you step outside your own perspective, you may assume that everyone else can navigate your site as well as you can.

You may have a great original product and it is priced perfectly! But if your customer is distracted by newsletter sign ups, forum invitations, banner exchanges and everything else, they may never notice your product! Don't laugh! It's true! I visit a lot of WAHM sites and at least half of them fail to identify the product on the first page.

When a WAHM finished her site she writes her friends and asks them for an opinion. I see it on the message boards often. I will read feedback that proclaims the site "great" and "awesome" and "wow, you really worked hard!". Then I visit the site and it is a mess! Bad spelling, terrible format, awful product pictures, very little product description. But, oh, the graphics are adorable! I always think to myself, "Why isn't anyone telling her the truth?"

And what is the truth? That she isn't going sell much.

If I kept track of the number of WAHM's who pick a domain, set up a less than adequate site and three or six months later let it drop for lack of sales, we would all be stunned and saddened by the numbers.

I would far rather tell the truth in love and encourage a new WAHM to bring their site up to snuff than pat them on the back and compliment their decorating skills.

Honestly, if you want to just decorate a site, go for it. Have fun! But if you want to sell your product or service, please look past the pretties and set it up for success.

Kelly McCausey is a single Mom in beautiful northern Michigan. She is a freelance graphics and web designer as well as owning the USAWAHM family of Work at Home websites. She enjoys hosting her internet talk radio program and promoting Work at Home Moms!



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