Top Ten Website Tips

By Kathy Widenhouse

For more information about creating and maintaining a website for your church or ministry, see the resources that we have listed.

My high school daughter spent an entire afternoon this week researching colleges online. Twice, she got to a college’s home page, and couldn’t find a list of majors it offers.

Crazy? Yep. Frustrating? You bet. What college wouldn’t make it as simple as possible for a potential student to navigate for basic information, like a degree listing?

Internet use is exploding. You may be tempted to shrug off the need for web site basics because “everybody knows how to navigate online.” Or you may think the opposite is true – that you’ve gotta “keep up with the Joneses” on your site with cutting edge graphics, while ignoring fundamental must-haves.

You’re right if you think web site basics aren’t important. They’re not. They’re essential.

Make sure your web site delivers. Use these ten top tips to help give your business a solid online presence – and keep your visitors coming back again and again.

Top Ten Web Site Tips

Tip #1. Have one. A web site is today’s calling card, but thousands of businesses and organizations aren’t yet online. As of May 2006, more than 77% of American adults have internet access, according to internet marketing research specialist eMarketer ( To do business, you must be on the web. Period.

Tip #2. Buy your own domain name. No one can remember http://j3978ck*%, but they will remember Click onto or any other domain sale site, and spend less than ten bucks a year to be recognizable online.

Tip #3. Look professional. Even do- it-yourselfers can use a web host’s templates. And make sure you proofread your site several times for typos.

Tip #4. Help your reader navigate. You know the frustration – not being able to find what you know is somewhere on a site. Use clear toolbars and drop-down lists. You may want to even offer a site map.

Tip #5. Go easy on graphics. Be careful not to use too many bells and whistles, such as a flash intro or video clips. Be particularly judicious “above the fold” – that is, on the top part of each page that loads first. Not everyone that looks at your site can support high-speed downloads. (Yep, some folks in the world still use dial-up.) If a page takes too long to load before the reader sees copy, he may get impatient and click off.

Tip #6. Feature quality content. Copy is still “king”! Make sure your site has excellent information that supports your business. You’ll want to consider regular additions to your site to keep it fresh. When you give the reader more than she expects, she’ll keep coming back.

Tip #7. Break up your copy. You’ll get both scanners and readers on your site. Cater to the scanner, and the reader will be happy too. Construct copy with the most important information first. Present it in short, manageable chunks. Use strong headings, subheads, bulleted lists, sidebars, boxes – with lots of space in between everything.

Tip #8. Brag. Use testimonials – and don’t just limit them to a “Testimonials” page. If a celebrity endorses you, put it on your home page. Sprinkle customers’ kind words in text boxes all over your site.

Tip #9. Write like you talk. It can be tempting to load copy that is high-falutin’ or that uses corporate-speak. Don’t. Here’s your litmus test: would your mother understand the text if she read it? If the answer is yes, you’re probably good to go.

Tip #10. Be easy to reach. Place your contact information (including street address, telephone number, fax number and e-mail address) on every page. Don’t make surfers click over to a separate “contact” page just to ask you a question. After all, a big reason you have a web site is so readers can get in touch with you quickly and find out more about your excellent products and services ... right?