Helping people enjoy your website

I get pretty fed up of people offering me ‘great’ ideas for websites, I pretty much always give the same response nowadays, actually I almost say the same things for new business ideas, of which I hear almost as many: 

Make sure you are helping people, not just trying to help yourself (nobody wants another million dollar homepage)

Search with Google to make sure what you are planning to write about or the service you are planning to provide is not already out there!  Also, research your idea to make sure is is actually useful

Test it out before spending loads of money 

Draw out your new idea on paper if is it a website and test it with a few people, if it is a new business then ask potential customers if they would buy stuff from it – make sure they are not just being nice, this is something that happends too often as people hate to offend!.  even funnier and just as cheap is wizard of oz testing, a favourite of mine.

Get your granny to use your pilot site and then ask her if she knows what it is about 

Rough up a website with off the shelf tools, such as a blog, or a hosted CMS like drupal or yahoo storeWell, test with about five people really, but your granny can be one, and make sure a couple know about your topic, but don’t be surprised about what you can learn from people that have no idea what your website is about.  Read this nice article about testing with people.  if they don’t t get it then think again, don’t spend money on the full thing because ‘what do they know anyway’.  I have seen this happen too many times.

Make sure you ask for feedback once people start to visit

Shock, horror, people might have something to say about your work once they see it.  Be warned, if your don’t like rejection then this might be a harsh life lesson, but just like asking out girls, eventually you will get it right (or give up!).    Here is a nice article about user experience

Market your bloody site

It seems that web site owners fall into three camps: no marketing, lots of dodgy online marketing, and great marketing.  Often the quality of the web site has very little relationship with the approach to marketing taken though, it could be a great site with no marketing, or a rubbish site with loads of marketing.  In fact most often the winners I find have simple web sites with very tight targeted marketing and a lively charasmatic front man.  Read Seth Godin, he knows a thing or two about marketing.

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