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Build Customer Relationships When Building Your Website

September 14, 2008

E-commerce, or doing business through the Internet is certainly picking up. This may primarily be because of the ease and convenience of shopping online, not to mention the savings from a significantly lower overhead compared to brick-and-mortar stores.

However, regardless of the benefits of e-commerce, why is it that traditional brick-and-mortar stores are still around and seem to grow instead of decline?

One major reason could be because these kinds of stores still represent and hold a significantly higher degree of security to the consumer as compared to a website. The sense of permanence, familiarity and reliability that a physical location holds is what brings customers back to the store.

While online businesses cannot compete with the physical assurance brick-and-mortars have, web-based enterprises can still develop a degree of familiarity with their customers that fosters a relationship of trust and reliability. And majority of this is built around the design of a website.

The One Unchanging Principle: Think Like Your Customer
Whether your business has a physical or virtual location, one principle in building relationships with your customers remains – and this is to think like them.

The more successful businesses have prospered because they have made their customers’ mindset their own. For traditional businesses, it meant everything from convenienctly locating goods to offering ready and credible assistance.

Successful websites should follow suit. With the lack of tangible contact, a potential customer could have little basis for forming a relationship with an online store. And if building customer loyalty is your goal, then suitable substitutes must be found.

Looks and feels familiar
First impressions last. As soon as a visitor clicks on a link to your site, he expects to see something that he will like, and therefore trust.

Take an online garden supply store for an example. A cut and dry layout of columns and rows, with little to no pictures won’t give the visitor the impression he has accessed a gardening store. Not a lot of hits would result, much less in sales.

However, if that same site was built to look like a garden shed, for example, the customer might feel more at home with shopping there because the look of the site used a familiar concept with the customer and incorporated it into the over-all look and feel of the website.

Being able to capture and retain your visitor’s attention is the first step in converting a visit into a sale and eventually working towards a strong business relationship.

Ready Assistance and Assurance
A customer appreciates a ready source of help and information when he or she is shopping. So again, thinking like a customer, find ways where a visitor can access answers to common questions about your products. This could be in the form of a prominent FAQ page or a concise product description alongside a picture.

It helps to strategically locate short but strong testimonials from satisfied customers among your products so visitors can see right away the reliability of the service and goods you provide.

Safe and Secure
While familiarity and assurances of reliable service is great in building customer relationship and loyalty, the bedrock of any relationship is trust. So place a good deal of emphasis on this.

Almost all business and financial transactions over the Internet are now performed over a 128-bit encryption system. So settle for nothing less than this. It will also help to prominently display this information on your payment and sales confirmation page to assure your customers this measure of security.

Build on the Relationship
The beginnings of a lasting relationship start from a good first impression. Hopefully, the look of the website has drawn your visitor in comfortably enough to make them want to purchase something from you for the first time. Once they have done so, it is still well within your control to assure that that first transaction will lead to many more.

You can do this through a number of ways, the most common of which is to thank the customer for purchasing from you and to assure them of your products’ warranties (if any apply).

Offer your customers useful tips and information on a resource page so they can visit you again, even if to purchase is not the primary intention. Most online transactions require an email address to be submitted so invite the customer to subscribe to your e-newsletter (if you have one). You may offer perks and / or discounts if they do subscribe. However, to avoid being labeled as spam, make sure the material is clearly solicited for and is sent in timely manner.

About the best indicator of loyalty is when your customer sees you as an expert in your line of business. Aim to be this through your website and your customers will begin to see you as more than just a supplier, but a trusted consultant.

By taking the necessary steps with your website in cultivating familiarity and trust with your customers, results will be reflected not only in your sales but with your customer relationships as well.

Written by Olegs Marhelis · Filed Under Business, Web Design, Website Usability 

How to seo your web page

August 29, 2008

For a commercial webpage to prosper in a search engine string search and come out on top, the page has to essentially be “prepared” to be detected and well-received by the search engine algorithm.

Because of the high amount of browsers visiting search engines such as Google and Yahoo, a new form of process was developed to make full use of the pros and avoid the cons of the algorithms used by the search engine companies. This process of preparation is called Search engine optimization (SEO).

As the amount of information grows exponentially, search engines will play a more vital role in keeping order in the World Wide Web. This has encouraged increasing numbers of people with something to look for to rely on search engines more. It simply is now a fact that you can find information faster if you use a search engine.

Because of this companies looking to attract more traffic to their sites would pay for valuable ad space within search results sent by the search engines to browsers. Because browsers are more often than not set on getting information about something, placing an ad that totally dovetails with what they’re looking for makes it easy for the advertiser to make a sale.

What search engine optimizers do then, is to make every effort to make the site considered highly relevant and show up in the top ten listing of their respective search strings. The usual method of SEO is to improve content, and dynamically expand the site with even more relevant data.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous SEO’s have also devised ways to cheat the algorithms of search engine to keep themselves on top with low quality or even misleading content. Google, Yahoo and other search engines have fought back by using even more complex algorithms to filter the junk and garbage out of their engines.

To properly optimize a web page, please follow the following steps:

1. Optimization should be part of the design. To properly optimize a web page, it should be considered as part of the design process. It should not be treated as an afterthought after the fact. This will lead to shoddy worksmanship and create unnecessary strain in the browser looking for relevant data.

2. Each web page must be optimized. That is to say, each web page must be unique, with their own content, titles and tags.

3. It’s not just the search engines. Don’t create a site specifically for search engines alone. Most people who start out this way create a site that is unwieldy and has bad grammar. Most browsers pass over unprofessional sites with poor copy.

4. Keywords. Make sure you have a list of terms you want placed in the page. Also consider that the keywords relevant to page 1 stays in page 1 while page 2 keywords stay in page 2. This is to make sure each page is unique in its offering, avoiding redundancy. In terms to competitiveness, a linking campaign will probably create more traffic and better results than concentrating on keywords.

Place your keywords strategically in the following areas: Page title, Meta tags, Body, Headings, Images, Bullets, Links.
High quality website typically rank well in the search engines partly because more and more people recommend it to others via word of mouth, email, instant messenger, or even better, take the link and place it in their own website link sections.

Google considers pages with inbound links as a vote to the quality and relevance of that site, increasing its rank in the search engine hierarchy.

In addition to inbound links, search engines also send out spiders to assess the site for relevance against an algorithm. The spider basically goes to the site and analyzes all the text in the page, including markup items, the meta tags and the title.

Spiders can read the following items on a web page, thus making the item highly relevant to search engines: text, page titles, meta tags, meta descriptions, code, tables. Depending on further technological considerations, search engines may consider other languages like Javascript and such. Currently, the spiders will just consider them clutter.

Web page optimization values content more than graphical artistic impact. One must keep in mind when the end result needed is to increase presence in the advertiser’s chosen search engine string.

Written by Olegs Marhelis · Filed Under Link Building, SEO, Web Design 

Fix Scrolling Render Bug in IE

August 25, 2008

This fixes a very annoying bug in IE by where when you scroll the page becomes corrupted. It relates to the way IE renders pages. This code places a null background image behind, making IE render the page differently.

This can also be place on the body tag unless it already has a background.

  1. html {
  2. background: url(null) fixed no-repeat;
  3. }

Written by Olegs Marhelis · Filed Under CSS, Web Design 

Better Image replacement technique

January 2, 2008

It fixes bug that makes the solution unusable if images are switched off in a browser:

The HTML code:

<h1 class=”ReplaceWithImage” id=”ImageHeader”>Replaced Text<span></span></h1>

The CSS code: 

.ReplaceWithImage{
  position:relative;
  margin:0px; padding:0px;
  /* hide overflow:hidden from IE5/Mac */
  /* \*/
  overflow: hidden;
  /* */
}
.ReplaceWithImage span{
  display:block;
  position:absolute;
  top:0px;
  left:0px;
  z-index:1; /*for Opera 5 and 6*/
}
#ImageHeader, #ImageHeader span{
  height:100px;
  width:300px;
  background-image: url(image.jpg);
}

Works in:

  • Opera 5 and up
  • IE 7/win
  • IE 6/win
  • IE 5.5/win
  • IE 5/win
  • Mozilla Firebird
  • Mozilla 1.2
  • Konqueror 3.1.2
  • Safari
  • Camino
  • Omniweb
  • IE5.2/Mac OS X

Written by Olegs Marhelis · Filed Under CSS, Web Design 

Image replacement technique

January 2, 2008

I believe that this image replacement technique works for people with screen reading software. It will make some body’s life easier.

This technique keeps the text visible to the screen reader software and hidden to the user.

This is what you need to do:

<div class=’ReplaceWithImage’>
Invisible Text
</div>

And this CSS code:

.ReplaceWithImage
{
  background: url(image.jpg);
  text-indent: -7777px;
}

What it does :
I moves text 7777 pixels to the left and places image in it’s place.

Written by Olegs Marhelis · Filed Under CSS, Web Design