|Content: The "Right Stuff"
Content is what will keep users on your site and keep them coming back for more. It can be news and information in words and pictures. Sophisticated interactive features that get them involved. It can be transactions like downloading files that give them something they want and you valuable feedback or personal information that you want. Whatever you decide to put on your site, there are a few things you should take into account.
User may not enter your site on the homepage. Each page must stand on its own and encourage clicking to the next or another page.
When adding graphics, size doesn't mean dimension but resolution. And while Web features can enhance a user's experience, there are several things to consider before loading on the bells and whistles.
Relying on plug-in or helper applications that may need to be downloaded and installed before the feature can be experienced is risky. 99% of users won't take the time and most don't even know how if they wanted to. The Web is heading full-speed toward ease of use. The more cutting edge you want to be, the more you may be limiting your audience.
- Test the effectiveness of banner ads before spending money to place them
- Collect user opinions, demographic information and email addresses
- Provide forums or chat rooms for customer interaction
- Take orders for products and requests for information
- Initiate and follow up a sale
- Give photographic tours of plants or destinations
- Demonstrate a product or process
- Enable online registration and/or reservations
- Send reminders to clients
Below are some bells and whistles along with a short explanation of each.
Click on the hyperlinks to see examples.
- Interactive Forms -
A simple contact form for feedback, order forms, request for information, etc. Click the package quote form created for the Brandywine Valley Inn.
- Databases -
Use them to keep track of customer orders, organize complex content, or for a simple Web site guestbook.
- Opinion Polls/Questionnaires -
Useful for getting instant feedback from your clients. These can be added using an outside Web provider like Freepolls.com
- Order Forms/Shopping Carts -
They make web shopping work. They come in all shapes and sizes and costs vary from free to tens of thousands of dollars.
- Animated Gifs -
Simple animations that enhance static pages and ad banners.
- Rollovers -
Buttons that change according to user activity (sometimes called MouseOvers).
- Slide Shows Effective for showing photos or images using motion and interaction. There are any number of ways to use slideshows on the Web to hold a users interest and to get them to interact with your site.
- QuickTime VR/Surround Video -
360 degree panoramas displaying indoor and outdoor scenes. Requires a plug-in or helper program and may involve significant loading time.
- Flash Movies & Video clips -
Add motion and sound to a moving image. Used to show television clips, commercials, demos, etc. Imbed mpeg files from YouTube. It saves you bandwidth and benefits you with extra exposure online.
STEP 5: Production