The golden rule of website success

The Golden Rule of website success: Measure everything
I’ve met with 3 online businesses in the last 2 weeks that have all wanted to increase their online sales. None of these businesses were start ups and all are investing significant budget in online marketing. Yet all 3 businesses lack fundamental statistics about their online performance. A massive benefit of working in the online world is that it’s possible to measure everything that your visitors do…and doing most of it is free. So make sure you don’t break the golden rule and measure everything!

In the following post I’ll highlight a couple of actions that will give you the information you need to build a better online business.

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The cost of setting up an online shop

If you’re thinking about setting up an online shop in the UK, you probably just want to know the answer to the simple “How do I do it and how much will it cost?”.

Advice for making money online with ecommerce

There are as many different ways to sell your products online as you can think. However, what we’re after here is a simple answer, a starter for 10, not an exhaustive list of all the options. In this post I’ll give you a ‘stake in the ground’ that you can use to make some business decisions and get started.

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Make your site social for free

Feb 17 2009 Published by under Improving your site

Social media is a term you’ve probably heard but if you haven’t it broadly means allowing users to engage with website content and each other. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are known as social networking sites because their primary purpose is to allow people to make contact and share thoughts, comments & content. Other sites like The Guardian or YouTube allow comments to be added around their content thus making their content ‘social’. So why not let your website users comment on your content, share ideas & thoughts etc. In other words, use the features of social networking on your own website.

One of the ongoing annoyances for committed users of the web is the number of user profiles we need to create to engage with the all these websites. Fortunately, Google’s recently launched social networking platform, Friend Connect allows us to embed social networking tools into our websites without the need to ask users to create a new profile when they want to use the features.
Adding the various free widgets will allow you to create a plug & play community for your website without the barriers usually associated with setting up and using a social network. You won’t need any programing skills but you will need (ftp) access to your server to set it up.

Check out this intro video from Google:

Free file sharing service

Aug 21 2008 Published by under Online tools, Productivity

If you want to share large files with your suppliers (videos, photos, artwork etc), the best service I’ve found is drop.io. There are lots of file sharing services out there but what’s so great about this one is that it is totally free (up to 100MB per file), its quick and doesn’t require registration or other annoying shenanigans. If your data is particularly sensitive you can password protect it at no extra cost. The premium versions of the service allow much larger data storage and shorter url’s (not that the 7 characters of the free version are too long). Quite simply there’s not much more you could want from an online file sharing service. If you think there’s something better please let me know.

Free professional website planning tool

If you’re planning a new website or an update to an existing site, its a good idea to think through what sections are going to be included and how the website’s going to grow over time. This used to be done with PostIt notes and a pen but the sparkly free service over at WriteMaps is so much easier and you don’t loose your afternoon’s work when the wind blows through the window!

Free website planning tool

Of course in this web 2.0 world its a free service, allows you to work collaboratively with your team and the interface is simple. Perfect!

Linkorama: WriteMaps

Improve site quality with free images

Aug 13 2008 Published by under Improving your site, Site design

If your site is looking a bit tired and perhaps rather dull, using a few images to break it up is a great idea. Typically, stock images can cost a lot to licence for online use, however a number of websites offer good quality stock images for free.

One of the most well known and a site I have used several times is Stock Exchange. The selection is good and the quality is certainly good enough for most projects especially if you spend a bit of time editing the images for your specific application. Make sure you check the licencing terms of any image you use as sometimes the photographer will require you to tell them where its being used (usually for interest sake more than anything else).

Another great source of images is searching through Creative Commons licenced shots. Flickr’s advanced search provides options towards the bottom of the form, for searching only those images which can be licensed (via Creative Commons) for use on your website.

Free customer surveys

Everyone knows listening to your customers is a vital part of developing your product offering. However, in the traditional world its a bit tricky and can be very costly. Well, in the online world its a lot easier and (obviously?) you can get it done for free.
SurveyMonkey is one of the better services for setting up a questionnaire and the free service allows you to ask 10 questions of up to 100 people. Take a look it might make a massive difference to actually hear what your customers really think!

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