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Tips on Building an Effective Website

Building the perfect website isn’t always as easy as plugging a few images into a template and sticking it on the Internet. You need to evaluate your website’s audience carefully and customize your content to fit their interests, needs and expectations. This article will look at three general types of websites and discuss how best to customize your website to meet the needs of your intended audience.

Building a Personal Website

The first type of website is personal. If you want to post photos of your most recent vacation, show off a few hobbies, or even type up periodic news posts about your life, a personal website is what you need. Personal websites are also the easiest to create: since you’re not trying to sell anything, you have complete creative freedom on the design your website.

Your website can be as casual or formal as you feel. Feel free to be liberal with photos and such (though remember that more images equal longer load times). Also, explore any special effects options that your website creation software might offer; since this website is the online representation of you, make it as fancy as you’d like.

Building a Hobby or Community Website

The second type of website is what I call the hobby or community website. Instead of representing a person or family, a website of this type showcases a specific hobby or activity. Perhaps you enjoy skiing; a website devoted to skiing (perhaps with ratings for resorts and ski equipment) would fall in this category.

While you still have creative freedom when designing a hobby/community website, remember that visitors are going to be drawn in by images, themes and media that reflect that hobby or interest. If you’re designing a skiing website, a lava-red background and photos of your recent trip to Las Vegas probably aren’t appropriate.

Also, remember that simple is best: it loads quicker and is more pleasing to the eye. Think of a time that you’ve visited a visually–busy website. Wasn’t it difficult to find the information you wanted, locate links and navigate to other pages?

Another great idea for a hobby/community website is to install a web forum. A web forum allows visitors on your site to discuss topics and view others’ questions. A web forum can make all the difference between a themed website and a true online community.

Many free web forum programs are available on the Internet (including uCoz , a popular web forum program). Setting up a web forum might be difficult for a novice, so get help from friends and explore the online help and installation sections for web forum programs.

Building a Professional Website

The third type of website is professional. When you have a product or service you want to offer over the Internet, you need a professional website. Like the hobby/community websites, you need to theme your website according to your target audience. If you’re selling homemade quilts, for example, you probably won’t want loud music playing in the background or flashy, animated text. You’d likely want soft colors and links to photos of each quilt pattern.

The Internet streamlines commerce in so many ways. Accepting credit card transactions directly through your website is common, even if you don’t have a brick-and-mortar store. If you want a professional website that can handle online transactions, design your site using website creation software that offers ecommerce capabilities. The built-in features will let you set up an online “shopping cart” and walk you through establishing an online merchant account with a credit card company.

Building a website is just a matter of figuring out who your target audience is so you can design a website experience that best meets or beats their expectations. Most website creation programs offer a wide variety of options, effects and tools to help you do this, so sit back and experiment a little. Remember, while you do want your website to fit your target audience, you also want your website to stand out from the competition.

See the tutorial on how to create a website for free.
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