WebSite101 A+ Award
Announcement! This award program has ended. Thank you for your interest.
WebSite 101 wants to honor
your hard work and tell the world about your site! If you have
followed our Award Criteria from beginning
to end and followed our advice, You Win! Of course
we must verify the requirements have been met and approve your
pages. The A+ Award is easy to win only because we tell you precisely
how to do that! If you improve your web site to meet our requirements
it benefits your business!
Take a look at the check list below and see where you stand. If
you believe your site meets each of the requirements and you've
checked off each of the ingredients, then it's a sure thing! If
we still believe you need improvement, we'll e-mail you personally
with advice or refer you to our tutorial to learn what you must
to do to be eligible! Our goal is to help educate small business
to the intricacies of e-commerce without paying high-priced consultants
and gurus their exorbitant fees.
qualify for the A+ Award your site must use:
8 Essential ingredients to e-commerce success!
know if you qualify?
Below is a list of explanations
for the award requirements above. Winning sites will be required
to use the award as a link back to WebSite101: Awards for Self
Designed Small Business Web Sites.
Essential ingredients to e-commerce success!
of Page Contact Us
- If you have a legitimate
business then you should have complete contact information available,
allowing visitors to contact you in multiple forms. Some will
prefer e-mail to a fax and others prefer to talk with you or
a representative over the phone. Some visitors will be reluctant
to provide you with their information if you don't make your
own available. We strongly believe in providing phone, fax,
e-mail, and snail mail information to all customers. You should
be completely accessible to people willing to give you money!
I have worked from my home for years and have always used a
mail receiving service such as Mailboxes Etc. PO boxes are unable
to receive FedEx and UPS packages, so I've always used a MBE
or similar service. I use those to reserve domain names and
post as mailing addresses on my web sites. Those who don't have
a public address don't look like real businesses. This is simply
a public perception, but must be addressed. Complete contact
information is a requirement for our A+ award due to that public
perception and is only an award, not a necessity for those who
don't want to post private addresses.
I am a privacy advocate as you can see if you visit my other
web site at http://privacynotes.com
and I highly recommend NEVER giving out home addresses online.
The mail receiving service is the best alternative for both
privacy and public perception of your business. Mike Banks Valentine
- To provide
an interactive form on your site your host or ISP will need
to offer "forms capability". Many hosts provide scripts like
"Formail" (by Matt Wright) to their subscribers, so that you
only need to follow the host's directions to offer visitors
an interactive form. Others will require you to configure the
script and set file permissions yourself which can be quite
challenging if you have no experience with "PERL" programming
language. If your Internet Service Provider does not offer "forms
capability" - try Freedback.com
because all online business is transacted this way! Most
online stores are hosted by large companies that do provide
a domain name is one of the least
expensive business investments on the planet. Ask any business
that takes their e-commerce seriously and you will find that,
almost without exception, they have found it to be worthwhile
to their business! What is easier to give to your clients www.somehost_somewhere.com.net/user/~mycompany/something.htm
or www.mycompany.com? Believe me, you will quickly tire of
the former and register a unique domain
name for your company. There is an added benefit to doing
this as well: your search engine relevancy and placement will
improve! This is a well known fact and will be supported by
internet marketing experts. Subdomains will not be considered
for the A+ Award. Subdomains are those that appear as follows
http://sub.domain-name.com. If you disagree with this requirement
is a difficult term and applies to a lot of things but we have
done our best to explain it in the tutorial.
If you aren't sure about this one just apply and we'll let you
know how you've done with this big and important ingredient!
Content is where many small business sites fall down. The biggest
hype on the web has been the "build it and they will come" theory!
If you don't somehow interest your visitors by offering something
valuable or entertaining to them, in most cases you have lost
them in less than thirty seconds. There is absolutely NO reason
to buy something from you above somebody else on the web. Give
visitors more reasons to be at your site than to buy your widget.
Unless you have one of the most unique widgets ever, nobody
will seek you out to give you money for it without other reasons
to do so!
- Many online
businesses fail to use these critical HTML tags which tell the
search engines what your site is about! If your site does not
use metatags, the search engines just grab the first text that
appears on your page to describe your site. How would you like
to have every surfer searching for your page see only your directory
links instead of a targeted "Description" metatag, so that it
looks just like every other site online with "Home", "About
Us", "Contact Us", "email us", "site map" etc.? Learn to use
- More than
anything else (except modem speed), small, quick-loading graphic
files determine how fast your page will load in a visitors browser.
You may have the ability to create stunning graphics (or use
those provided in several software packages) but you must generally
keep graphic file sizes under 15K and preferably smaller. Web
graphics do not need to be the same high quality as those you
might want to print out because the screen resolution of your
computer is only 72 pixels per inch (ppi) and your printer is
capable of at least ten times better resolution.
- When you
designed your web site you thought it out very carefully and
planned how you wanted to direct visitors through your pages
so it may be very tempting to insist they follow
your plan. Don't do it! Web surfers can lose patience
very quickly and bail out of your site in a split second if
they become frustrated with your navigation scheme! Let the
visitor decide where to go from every page by providing text
links or navigation bars on every one of your pages! The best
thing is to offer a "next" and a "back" button or arrows along
with the text links. The "next" button allows you to direct
them if they are willing, but don't force the issue! Let them
have multiple choices. Frame based navigation is great if designed
well but take care! It's not easy to do well unless you are
very good at it!
is a reason that links are popular and most often expected
on web sites. That is because they provide value to your pages
and interest to your visitors AND increase your ranking in search
engines! Some webmasters avoid links because they are afraid
to lose the potential customer before they have bought anything
or worse; they try to trap visitors so they are forced through
the site before they can leave! It doesn't work! Provide a list
of interesting complementary sites that add value to your pages
by creating a great online source for whatever business you
are in. Customers may return to your site because they know
that you can recommend other great places to visit that are
related to what you sell. Links can be collected in one spot
or spread throughout your pages but do provide at least a few
to qualify for the award.