Is Your Website Ready For Prime Time?

So you think its ready to go live. After all of the hard work you?ve done registering your domain, making hosting arrangements, planning your site, and actually creating the pages. Who cares if there is a section or two of the site that aren?t finished yet? We can fill in the rest as we go. The important thing is people need to start seeing our website. Are you sure? Is your website really ready for prime time?

One of the biggest problems facing websites today is trying to attract recurring
traffic. The key to most successful sites, is not only to attract people to your
website, but to keep them coming back. Unfortunately, many websites are launched
before they are complete.

Imagine this, if you will. A new show airs on TV, the previews sound ok, so you
decide to tune in and check it out. When it starts, you find out that it really
hasn?t been completed. The props are cheap, the effects are lacking, and a final
cast hasn?t been decided on so for the first few episodes you will see different
people playing the same role. Does this sound like a show you would watch again?
Would a television network release a show before it was ready for release? A cute
little barricade sign with a flashing light reading UNDER CONSTRUCTION in the
bottom corner is not going to make up for the obvious lack of completeness to
the television viewers watching the show.

This happens every day on the Internet. Individuals and companies alike are in
such a rush to start getting traffic on their websites that they will put them
out there before they are complete.

With the expansion of high-speed Internet access, web surfers have the luxury
of being able to hit many sites in the time it used to take to download only one
page. What does this mean to the website owner? If your site is not complete,
a small ?Under Construction? image will not make up for missing content. The surfers
that hit your website in this time will probably never return, even after you
have completed the missing areas.

The problem doesn?t only apply to websites that aren?t completed. The same problem
exists for websites that have been finished. There are many areas that need to
be taken into consideration and addressed before a site goes live. Here are some
of the biggest examples:

? One of the most common mistakes on a website is spelling errors. Though they
might be small, spelling errors are viewed as very unprofessional. With the wide
availability of spell-checkers, there should be no excuse for misspellings on
your website. Spell-check your content!
? Another common mistake is HTML errors. Although they may not be noticeable when
you are testing your site, HTML errors can cause serious problems for your target
audience. Not everyone uses the same web browser, and most of them have their
own proprietary engines for rendering the HTML. Some of these web browsers may
be very forgiving when it comes to incorrectly formatted HTML, but some are very
strict. This means that something that your web browser allows might be a serious
issue for another browser. So make sure that your HTML is properly written, and
that it will work across all popular web browsers.
? Broken links present another huge problem. No, I am not talking about golf. Every
spot on your website where you can click to go somewhere else is a link. And each
of these spots is a potential problem. It is very easy to make mistakes with the
links on web pages, especially when you are in the early stages of creating your
website. But to a web surfer, who sees what looks like a cool link, clicking on
it and getting a ?Page Not Found? error is just unacceptable. Chances are, that
surfer is going to catch a wave to the next website on the search engine to find
what he is looking for. Check and re-check all links on every page.
? Are you planning on submitting your website to different search engines? If so,
make sure it is ready for such right away. Make sure your pages have meaningful
and descriptive titles, and that your META tags are properly formatted. This will
greatly increase your chances of getting hits on search engine searches.
? Finally, you need to make sure that your web pages load quickly. I know that
with the proliferation of high-speed Internet you may be tempted to load your
pages with tons of content, but do so in moderation. It has been determined that
the average web surfer will wait up to 8 seconds before going to another website.
Keep in mind that less than half of the country has high-speed Internet access
available to them. Less than five percent of those who it is available to, actually
subscribe to it. Make sure your web pages load quickly, even for dial-up, and
you will be able to retain visitors.

There are hundreds of websites available to help you build a successful website.
Some offer articles and guides, others have tool and utilities, and others contain
libraries of existing code that can be plugged in to your website to enhance it?s
functionality. Depending on the site, and what features it has to offer, there
may be a fee to access the services found within.

What is the bottom line? Make sure your website is ready for prime time before
putting it on the air. Make your website is?complete and error free, and you have
the winning cast to make your site a hit.

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