Before jumping ahead with a full site enhancement, check out the following 12 criteria that TheNETrep, a Del Mar, California-based Web-enhancement company, uses to critique a Web site. If you follow these rules already, you may not need an overhaul at all!
Overall look: Go for clean, simple and attractive. Underwhelm.
Home page: Think billboard. Tell them exactly what you want them to know right up front--simply, clearly and immediately.
Message: It's tough to lure visitors to your site. Give them a reason to stay. What's your offer? Exactly to whom is it directed? What's in it for surfers if they stick around?
Speed: Your site must be quick. Use graphics judiciously. Try to keep each page and all its components under 20KB.
Graphics size: Appropriate graphics amplify your message, but graphics are a bandwidth hog. So reduce their dimensions and use compression software to squeeze out extra bytes.
Text legibility: A simple font on a light background is usually best. Separate wide blocks of text into columns. Leave plenty of white space.
Page "skimability": Use short headings at the beginnings of paragraphs.
Copy quality: Make your copy crisp. Keep your paragraphs and sentences short. Talk directly to the customer.
Navigation: Make your site easy to navigate. Include a link back to your home page on every page of your site.
Contact form: If you collect information, collect as little as necessary, and tell your visitor how it will be used.
Testimonials: Prominently list testimonials from your best customers.
Mistakes: You'll lose visitors if your site has broken links, missing graphics or scripts that don't run correctly. Check out your site's accessibility with all the popular browsers.
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Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at email@example.com.