Ecommerce website design : Part IHow To Create Photorealistic Post-It Pop-UpHave you seen one of those post-it pop-up? The one that looks so realistic, with awesome shadoweffect. If you dont know what I am talking about, try opening the following website:http://myhobbybooks.com/wowpopThey look awesome dont they?And something like this is always good for your web marketing campaign. One reason, it never getsblocked by pop-up blockers. And another, it really grabs the attention of your web visitors.This is good when you want to increase subscription rate to your ezine, or promote an affiliate program,or even increase sales.But you wonder, how do they do it? You thought that you can achieve similar result, and you try, andtry, and try... you tried GIF image, JPG image, none of those can get the job done.But theres one thing that you just dont know. Many pro web programmers know this, but not thenormal web designers ... maybe even most web designers dont know how to do this.The secret is in PNG image format.PNG image format is the little-known image format that you can use on the web. PNG image format isunique because you can do the Alpha effect with it. The Alpha effect is where you set transparencyfactor on certain areas on the PNG image. That is what makes the shadow looks so real.
How to Create Your First One-Page Sales Web SiteCopyright 2006 Donna GunterMost one-page web sites (also called one-page sales letter web sites or mini web sites) have only onepurpose -- to sell a product. My conversion to the one-page web site strategy has been a reluctant one,as I hate reading all the sales copy. However, the facts dont lie -- one page web sites written like alengthy sales letter are one of the most effective ways to sell you product online. Most people dontactually read anything online. Instead, they scan a page, seeking out info that is bold, in a larger fontsize, in a different color, or in a bulleted format. Consequently, Internet marketers have discovered thatthe most important information about your product needs to catch the readers eyes as they scan thepage.Heres what you need to get started:1. A niched product for an easily identifiable target market. One-page web sites work best if you have aproduct for a very specific niche market, like an ebook on how to teach a parrot to talk, an ecourse onhow to start your own bead jewelry making business, or a set of CDs on how to teach yourself to playthe piano. You need to be able to identify and describe your target market, from determining what thetarget market needs and what theyll pay for (as well as how much they will pay) to what publicationsthey read, what groups/associations do they belong to, and where they hang out both on- and offline.Make sure you know something about your target market before proceeding to the next step.2. A domain name. The domain name for your one-page site should mirror or closely resemble yourproduct name, or a prominent feature of your product. So, for example, if you are a hypnotherapist andyou have a podcast that youre selling on how to use self-hypnosis to lose weight, then youd want to tryand get a domain name like LoseWeightFast.com. Try and get the .com version of your domain name ifpossible, but if thats not available, seek out the hyphenated version of the .com domain name.If you have an existing web site, your domain name can be forwarded and masked to an internal page ofyour website so that it appears like a separate website without having to pay for additional hosting.UltranetDomains.com is where I purchase all of my domains, and they offer domain forwarding andmasking as a part of their domain registration service.
If you dont currently have a web site, you need to determine what your online business needs will be inthe next few months to determine what type of hosting and website services you might need.3. A give-away. You have two goals for your one-page web site: get the contact info from your visitorsand convert them into paying customers. The best way to obtain contact info from a visitor is to createa related information product (ebook, electronic tips booklet, special report, podcast or other audio file,ecourse, video, etc.) in which the content is so compelling that the visitor gladly parts with his/her nameand primary email address to obtain the free giveaway. You can also create a special offer, say a trialperiod for $1, and offer access only to those who will give you their contact info. By giving you theircontact information, they have become a warm lead and you can start to develop a relationship withthem.4. Your product. There are any number of products you can create to sell online. The ones that areeasiest to create and require little investment (other than your time to create them) and are available byan electronic download include an ebook or special report, a podcast (audio recording of an interview ortelelcass), or an ecourse. Of these, you probably have almost everything you need to create an ebook. Irecommend that you format in ebook in a word processing program, like Microsoft Word. Youll thenwant to format it into a locked PDF document so that its more difficult to illegally copy. I alsoencourage you to use a PDF program that allows you to create clickable links in your document so thatyour buyers can easily click on web sites from your ebook. I prefer the Adobe Acrobat program tocreate PDF documents, as Adobe PDF has both of these features, but there are a number of low-cost orfree programs available that will permit you to convert basic word processing files to PDF format.To make your product more appealing, you need to have a cover created. This cover can actually serveas the cover of the virtual product, and you can use it as an icon in emails and in your shopping cart as avisual representation of your product. There are a number of graphic artists who create ebook and otherproduct covers, and there are several pieces of software you can purchase to create your own. Ivenever been too happy with the results from software, so I hire Heather Colman ofCustomDesignCovers.com, who does an incredible job.5. A merchant account. In order to collect payments, you need to be able to take credit card paymentsonline. I use and highly recommend Practice Pay Solutions,http://www.profcs.com/app/aftrack.asp?afid=127926, a company that works with many coaches,consultants and speakers. Your merchant account company needs to offer a "virtual terminal", whichlets you enter and process transactions online and interfaces with your shopping cart program. Themost commonly used virtual terminal is that provided by Authorize.net. If you dont want to invest in a
merchant account, you can begin by using third-party processors like PayPal or ClickBank, but they offerless flexibility than a full merchant service.6. Shopping cart software. Ultimately, your shopping cart software will be a workhorse for you andenable you to automate many functions of your online business. The cart that I highly recommend isKickStartCart.com, http://www.kickstartcart.com/app/?pr=31&id=5940, which offers a great deal offlexibility in how you list and bundle products, gives buyers a 24-hour download URL for downloadingyour electronic product, has built-in autoresponders so you can automatically follow up with yourbuyers, and an email broadcast function so that you can send out special notices to the customers orprospects on your list.7. A squeeze page. A squeeze page offers the visitor access to some piece of information in exchangefor the visitor parting with his name and primary email address. The information has been "squeezed"out of the visitor, hence the name of the page. On this page youll want to have an attractive graphic,compelling headline, a short list of benefits that the visitor will receive if the visitor gives you his contactinfo immediately, and a form for the visitor to fill out to receive the information.8. The sales letter page. This is the primary sales page of your one-page web site, containing a longsales letter with benefits of your product and testimonials of others whove used the product, Theres aformula for writing an effective one-page sales letter site, and I use a program called Instant Sales LetterGenerator, http://www.ebookgenerator.com/cmd.php?Clk=1227194 that helps me by asking me aseries of questions that will enable me to create the copy for the page. The formula for a one-page salesletter web site is generally an attention-getting headline, a strong opening statement, body of the letterthat outlines the features and benefits of what youre offering, the actual offer itself, and then asking forthe sale. Most pages are constructed very similarly. If you look at any of the web sites of the majorInternet marketers, youll find this style used again and again.9. Follow-up auto responders. The ability to continue to reach out and "touch" your prospectivecustomers is key in developing a relationship with them so that they move from a prospective customerto a purchasing customer. I usually create a series of 6-10 or so autoresponders that are sent out overthe 3 weeks following a purchase to check in with the purchaser, or to interest the purchaser in anotheritem. The shopping cart service I use has autoresponders built in. Other reliable autoresponder servicesinclude Aweber.com and GetResponse.com.
10.. Traffic to the site. Because your site is only one page, it will be virtually ignored in the organicsearch engine ranking process. Theres simply not enough content to warrant a high ranking on anyecommerce website design you might choose. The easiest way to drive traffic to a one-page web site isto purchase ecommerce website designs, or pay-per-click advertising. Googles Adwords,http://adwords.google.com and Yahoos Search Marketing (formerly Overture)http://www.yahoosearchmarketing.com are two of the best-known pay-per-click advertisers. Google isprobably the easiest with which to start.Completing a one page web site wont happen overnight. However, with a bit of research, greatcopywriting, and a marketing plan in place, a one-page web site can easily become a profit center foryour business.Hiring a web designer to come up with the custom solution that you need can set you back a fewthousand bucks. But you can do the whole thing yourself and make it drag and drop simple for merepennies with a tool like Breezy Websites. See http://breezywebsites.com for details!Ecommerce website design : End of Part IIHow To Design A Website From ScratchHow to design a Website!So you know what your website is going to be about - how do you set out to design it?You need to think of two things. What content are you going to have on your site, and secondly, what isyour site going to look like? And what will the layout of the pages look like, the colours etc.Content
The first thing to think about is the possibilities that a website gives you. Even if your website is going tobe an online store, do not think about the site as a catelogue. The benefits of the web is that yourwebsite does not have to follow a linear format - it is not restrictive like a book. The format of the webmeans your visitors will be able to dip into your site at any point, and also be able to jump around tothose parts which are the more interest to them.Dont, therefore, set your site out like chapters in a book, where later chapters rely on informationwhich has been picked up in earlier ones. Instead your pages should all be able to stand as items ofinterest in their own right, and have links through to other relevant information your visitors mightneed!No one needs to start with a blank sheet of paper - there are millions of web sites already out there. Thefirst thing you can do is research. Look at what other people have done - no, you are not going to copytheir ideas, but you are trying to see what appeals to you, what you think works well, and what turnsyou off completely!So youve looked around, had a few ideas. How will you know that your ideas are going to work? Howcan you waste hours of abortive effort?What you want in three clicks.Want to know the golden rule? You should make sure your site visitor can find what they want in amaximum of three clicks! You should remember the three click rule when deciding how to set out yourpages.A common suggestion is to use a story board approach but the problem with a story board is it makesyou think in a linear way - and as we discussed above, with a website youve got the ability to gobackwards and sidewards as well as forwards!One method of thinking about designing a new website is to use a mind mapping process, or to draw upa spider diagram.
You start with just your main subject in the centre - this will be your home page.First layerNext think of the main topics which people may expect to find in a site such as yours - on a retail site forexample, the first layers may well include the catelogue as a general heading. On a site about dogs thefirst layer may be breeds.Second layerYou are now able to go further into each of your subjects. A catelogue for clothes may be divided hereinto Mens clothing, Childrens clothing etc., and the dog breeds may now be listed as Gun Dogs, ToyBreeds etc.Third layerNot all of your first layer menu items may lead to a third layer, but some will. To continue our examplesabove, Chidrens clothing may now be divided into boys and girls. The Gun Dogs will be divided into theRetrievers, Spaniels etc.By playing around with your ideas on paper in this fashion you can see where your topics fit best. It maybe that some third level pages fit under two second layer pages - no problem, you can link a page toeach, and have it appearing on more than one menu. It is what makes sense to the visitor that counts!Having your site set out in a diagram also makes it easier to see how to link up your pages usinghyperlinks, i.e., but clicking on a word on your site, the visitor gets taken to a different page withouthaving to go back through the menus.Colour scheme, templates etc.
Once you have the plan of what you are going to put onto your site you can start to think aboutindividual page layout and colour schemes.Again, look at other peoples sites, especially those you like. What looks good about them? Sites whichhave a uniform layout on each page often look far more professional than those which experiment withdifferent colours on every page and different templates. This isnt to say that every page must be thesame, but have some consistency, for example, where you place the menu buttons, so that people knowthey are still on your site. If the navigation menu buttons are always in the same place people willquickly become familiar with the feel of your site, and be able to move round it a lot quicker, andtherefore take in a lot more of the information which you want to provide them with.Making your site look professional is important unless you are just putting up a few pages to share withfamily! Lets assume the reason you wish to make a website is to earn some extra money at home, or toadvertise your business or promote an activity. Apart from colour and consistency here are a couple ofother tips. Firstly, look at the size of font you use - dont mix it up too much, or use too many differentcolours. Make your the type face you use can be seen clearly on the background colour. Secondly, is iteasy to get to the informationThe most important person!Finally, dont forget that YOU have got to like your site. You will be having a very close relationship withit and it will be very demanding on your time, espeically in the early days. Take advice from friends orcolleagues, but at the end of the day, go with what you are happy with. If you are uncomfortable withyour site you will not have the same enthusiasm to work with it.Your first pagesNow you have the schema for your website, you have chosen your colours and background, you canstart to put together your first pages.Here are a few tips:
1. Get a few pages together and get your site up there and published! It will take anything from a fewweeks to 7 or 8 months to be indexed by the search engines. The main search engines such as Googlelike to give comprehensive listings only to mature sites. The sooner you get your site published thesooner you will get good rankings in the search engines.2. Do not use the words under construction.3. Get other peoples opinion on your site - good comments will give you confidence. If your hostingcompany has a forum you may be able to showcase your new website there to get advice from othersusing the same software.ConclusionA website doesn’t just emerge – it takes a lot of work and an awful lot of planning. But if you make theinvestment of time you won’t lose out. If you don’t have a website no one is able to tap into yourknowledge or see your creations. If you build your website badly your visitors may not be able to findtheir way around, and a lot of what you do will be wasted. If you take that bit of extra effort and careyou will have a site that is very easy to use, and which will become popular because of that!Hiring a web designer to come up with the custom solution that you need can set you back a fewthousand bucks. But you can do the whole thing yourself and make it drag and drop simple for merepennies with a tool like Breezy Websites. See http://breezywebsites.com for details!Ecommerce website design : End of Part III