WebSite101 A+ Award

Important 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.

To qualify for the A+ Award your site must use:
8 Essential ingredients to e-commerce success!

Don't 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.

8 Essential ingredients to e-commerce success!
  1. 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 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

  2. 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 because all online business is transacted this way! Most online stores are hosted by large companies that do provide forms capability.

  3. Registering 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 or 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 If you disagree with this requirement read this!

  4. Content 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!

  5. 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 Metatags!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. There 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.
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