Web Self-Help for Small Business

While in his Late 20s, Benjamin Franklin came up with a list of 13 virtues, which he thought were areas in his life where he could improve. He wrote these virtues down in a book and kept notes on how he was addressing them in his life. He chose a different virtue to focus upon each week, meaning that he would revisit each one 4 times a year.

Franklin was one of the first Americans to write about self help and self improvement, and the 13 virtues that he listed appeared frequently in his writings to the public. The virtues that Franklin focused upon were temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin at a writing desk with quill in one hand, paper in the other, and behind him through a window lightning shown striking a building - engraving by Pater Noster Row, dated 1778.

I remember when I first started working on a web site, and recall how much that site changed as I learned more about HTML, graphics, usability, marketing and other topics. Looking back, I’ve been wondering if it would have helped to have a list like Franklin’s, that I could have used to focus my efforts on building, maintaining, and promoting a web site, and that I can use in the future.

I tried to come up with 13 areas, because I like the idea of spending a week on each, and coming back to them 4 times a year. I would guess that if you asked 100 people to come up with a list like this, you might get 100 different sets of topics. My list only includes 12 areas right now, and if you have suggestions for a 13th, please let me know in the comments below.

My self help list includes accessibility, analytics, business, communication, customer service, coding, design, internet law, marketing, SEO, usability, and writing.

I’ve written a brief description of each, and a list of some example activities and suggestions of things to do within those topics that might help serve as a starting point to self help for business owners who want to develop a stronger presence on the Web, myself included.

Accessibility

Not everyone sees or experiences the Web the same way, and interacts with a web site at a certain resolution, on a certain kind of monitor, with the same kind of keyboard and mouse.

How approachable is your web site to the many different potential visitors who may come across your pages? Are there physical and technological barriers to people who may have disabilities that make it difficult for them to interact with your web site?

What kind of experience do people who view your site through phones and other handheld devices have when they view your pages?

Analytics

Many businesses take a short-sighted approach to seeing who comes to their web sites, and focus upon creating reports about traffic to their pages, or don’t pay much attention at all to information about their visitors.

Using programs and tools that can help you get a better understanding of who is coming to your pages, how they arrived, and what they did once they got there can help you make changes to your site to improve it. An old business cliche that still holds much value goes, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

  • Learn the difference between log file analysis and analytics programs
  • Add a program like Google Analytics to a web site that you run, whether it’s your main business site or a hobby site (there’s a lot of value in having a blog or hobby site that you can test new things upon, and experiment with, and if you don’t have one, it’s something to think about seriously)
  • If you decide to use Google Analytics, spend some time at Google’s Conversion University, watching their demonstrations and tutorials
  • Visit Avinash Kaushik’s blog Occam’s Razor, and spend some time going through his post posts. He provides a fair number of ideas on how you can take action on the data you receive from your analytics programs
  • Brush up on your statistics.

Business

Set goals for your business and your web site, write out why you believe those goals might be attainable, and come up with a plan for reaching them. Learn about different business models that people have used in the past, and the successes and failures behind those. Explore how people conduct business in different places, and different cultures. Explore how to be a responsible business owner, and a good community member.

  • Write or rewrite a business plan for your site
  • Read some books on different business approaches and models
  • Visit competitors’ web sites, and other sites, and try to analyze and understand their business model and how it differs from yours

Communication

Effective communications means being able to hold meaningful conversations with the people that you interact with, whether vendors, clients, potential clients, employees, any many others. There are many mediums that you can use to interact with others, including conversations by email, by phone, by mail, within forums and social networks, through blog posts and comments, and others.

  • Learn about etiquette for online communications
  • Try to avoid cliches when you write or talk, except for when they may be the best way to convey an idea
  • Invite feedback and participation from others
  • Explore the power of providing criticism in a positive and constructive manner
  • Be a role model for others

Customer Service

Conducting business means going beyond advertising, marketing, and selling. It transcends creating a quality service or goods that others will value. It requires that you respect those whom you provide goods and services to, respond to them in a positive manner, and make them feel like they are important to you.

  • Look at shipping policies on web sites and rewrite yours
  • Look at security policies on web sites and rewrite yours
  • Rewrite your “about us” page to use a timeline, a narrative, a map, photographs
  • Learn about the Better Business Bureau and other Consumer Organizations
  • Write out 10 or more of the most likely consumer criticisms of your business and how you would respond to them
  • Look at the emails that you send to clients and possible clients and rewrite them in anticipation of future emails
  • Look critically at the brochures, proposals, newsletters, and other documents you send to people

Coding

As an online business owner, it’s possible that you might have others build and create the web site that you use to conduct business. You don’t need to be a carpenter to live in a house, or a mechanic to drive a car. But, it doesn’t hurt to know how to hang a shingle, replace a broken window, unstop a plugged drain, check and change your oil, or replace a flat tire.

If you rely upon a web site to deliver customers to your business, the more you learn about the code behind your site, the easier it becomes to improve that site.

  • Look at source code on pages you visit
  • Learn about HTML, including HTML 5
  • Read tutorials on HTML, CSS, PHP, Java script
  • Write tutorials on HTML, CSS, PHP, Java script
  • Learn the differences between HTML, XHTML, and XML
  • Create an XML sitemap for your site
  • Look at robots.txt files on sites you visit
  • Run an HTML validator on pages of your web site

Design

Design is an important part of communication online. The look and feel of your website communicates as much to your visitors as the words that appear upon your pages. The design of your website can determine how credible your site might seem to others, how trustworthy your business might appear, how professional your services might seem.

The more you learn about design, the more you may understand what message your website might be sending to others.

  • Learn about typography and differences between types of fonts
  • Explore how whitespace is used on your site, and see how different sites use whitespace in their design
  • Pick up a book on pencil drawing
  • Visit an art museum
  • Learn about HTML editing programs
  • Find and subscribe to design related blogs
  • Learn about color theory
  • Learn about CSS
  • Learn about Web Standards
  • Design 10 alternative logos for your web site
  • Customize a WordPress Theme
  • Look at the designs of other web sites and write down what you like and dislike about their designs

Internet Law

There are a number of legal issues that can be helpful to any business owner to learn more about, and the Web presents some unique things to consider from a legal perspective. You may have some rights and some obligations under the law that you otherwise might not be aware of.

  • Learn about copyright (pdf)
  • Learn about fair use
  • Explore contest law for your area
  • Explore warranties
  • Visit the FTC site and Learn more about consumer rights
  • Learn more about contracts
  • Learn how to find an attorney in your area
  • Explore the differences between Trademarks and Service Marks and how each might be helpful
  • Read Privacy Policies on sites you visit and have yours rewritten into plain English
  • Write an emergency preparedness plan for your business

Marketing

How well do you understand the processes behind selling, promoting, and distributing products or services? How might what you offer on your website address a demand by consumers? How may you best identify and hold conversations with people who might be interested in what you have to offer?

What distinquishes you and your website from others who otherwise capture the attention of people who might become a customer of yours?

  • Look at the press release policies for local and national newspapers and magazines
  • Pay attention to the ads that you see in magazines, newspapers, billboards, TV, Radio and write about what makes them effective or ineffective
  • Learn about unique selling propositions, and explore competitors’ websites and other sites to learn about what makes them unique
  • Write or update a marketing plan for your business

SEO

Search engine optimization is a branch of marketing that focuses upon taking steps to increase the visibility of your business and your website on the Web in places like search engines and directories and other areas. It can involve taking steps like making your web site easier for search engines to crawl and index. It also involves other steps, such as learning about the language that your customers use to search for and find your site, and that they expect to see on your pages.

Your web pages don’t exist in isolation from the rest of the Web, but rather are part of an environment that you can learn more about, and SEO can make it more likely that your business will thrive within that ecosystem.

  • Read the major search engines’ guidelines
  • Sign up for the webmaster tools on the major commercial search engines
  • Explore competitor’s websites and other sites to see how they have made their pages more search engine friendly
  • Read and learn more about SEO on blogs and forums and other places, but think critically about what you read – like anything else on the Web, there’s a fair amount of misinformation online about SEO.

Usability

You likely have a number of goals for your web site, such as having visitors make a purchase or contact you or sign up for a newsletter or download a whitepaper. Your pages may provide a number of opportunities for visitors to fulfill some kind of informational or transactional task. How easy is it for visitors to use your web pages?

Understanding how people may interact with your ordering forms, your contact pages, your navigation, and other parts of your site may lead to more visitors becoming customers or referring others to your pages. A bad experience may mean that they may never return to your pages.

  • Ask someone you know to perform a task on your website while you (quietly) watch over their shoulders
  • Spend some time reading through the usability guidelines at Usability.gov
  • Explore other sites to see how usable they might be and how they might be improved

Writing

I hesitated when considering whether or not to include writing as a category because I had already listed “communication” within my list. But communication is a much broader area where one can focus more upon the interactions with others. Being a good communicator means more than just writing or speaking well – it also involves learning how to listen and how to respond to others.

I decided to include writing because of the importance of being able to write well on the web, whether in the way that you describe products or services on your site, or in the emails that you might send to customers, or blog posts you might write.

  • Read the copy on websites and write down what you like and dislike
  • write a haiku, a sonnet, a short story
  • Rewrite product/service descriptions for your site
  • Write a blogging policy guideline for your employees, even if you don’t have a blog, or employees
  • Write reviews for local businesses
  • Write reviews for books, music, and products on Amazon and other sites

As I noted at the top of this post, I’ve only come up with 12 categories so far. If you have some suggestions for another category to make it a full 13, please let me know.

Thanks.

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45 thoughts on “Web Self-Help for Small Business”

  1. Trustablity or Credablity “could” be your #13.

    As for plans (you mention plans a few times) your readers might like to take a look at the One Page Business Plan for Consultants and make a few minor changes to make it a plan for the Internet. A few years ago I did a talk with Willie Crawford where I did that. It’s available at http://www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com/podcast.xml

    I’d love to have use this article as a Guest Bloger on my Blog once I get it working again and you find your #13!

    LMK

    Maria Marsala

  2. I like accessibility! Not everyone is the same. I like that you consider everything even disabled people. Accessibility is really one thing to consider especially in this age of new technology.

  3. My list has only 3 main areas: “Accessibility, Usability, Marketing”. This areas are including almost all another subareas.
    Marketing includes analytics, business, SEO and writing.
    Accesibility and Usability include coding, design and “technical” SEO.

    Marketing help me find a website, accesibility let me use it and usability let me to stay there. But i forgot on
    Communication and customer service, which increase trust of website (company) :)

  4. As much as I agree with the sentiment of the article, for me there is nothing worse than a client that *thinks* they know about all the aspects of web development.

    The problem with the web is that things change so quickly, so what might be a way of doing things today, might quickly change to something else tomorrow.

    Knowledge is power for sure, but you should always take advice form the professionals. If you get the right professional, they will advise you what’s best, so be prepared to listen and learn every day! :)

  5. Hi Andrew,

    Thank you. If more people spent some time learning about things that they could do to make their sites more accessible, they might find opportunities to interact with a much wider audience than they have been.

  6. Hi Slipy,

    Your categories make sense, and I agree that a number of my topics could fit easily into broader topics. I broke those larger topics into 12 areas (with some thoughts of a thirteenth) to try to bring attention to some of the topics that a web master might focus upon to make it easier for them (and me) to learn more without being overwhelmed by the broader topics.

  7. Hi Tom,

    I agree with you. What I’m trying to stress here isn’t that a site owner can know and learn everything, and that they shouldn’t go to a professional when they would benefit from having suggestions and advice from someone who stays on top of a specific discipline and is a knowledgeable specialist.

    But, I do think that there’s a real benefit for people who do business on the web to learn more about the framework within which they do business. Making an effort to learn about accessibility, usability, marketing, SEO, and the other topics I mention, and understanding, as you point out, that the web is constantly evolving and changing can help site owners understand their business better and prepare them for those changes, and make them aware of when it might be beneficial to get some help.

  8. Hi Maria,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’m a big fan of the Stanford Credibilty Guidelines, and I like the suggestion of including learning more about how to make a site more credible and trustworthy.

    Another area that I’ve been considering since I initially wrote this post was “technology.” I don’t think it’s a bad idea for a site owner to spend more time thinking about issues like making sure that their site is more secure, learning about differences between different server softwares and hosting and IP addresses and DNS and other technical issues that can impact a web site.

    I’m sure that I’ll come up with some more, but I appreciate your suggestion and think it’s a good one.

    I don’t usually syndicate or republish articles elsewhere, but would consider writing something along similar lines as a guest blog post if you would be interested. Thanks for asking.

  9. The most meaningful suggestion in this list, from where I sit, is to “write out 10 or more of the most likely consumer criticisms of your business and how you would respond to them”. This is a very valuable exercise because webmasters and other business owners don’t spend enough time putting themselves in the “shoes” of their customers, prospects, and site visitors. The exercise forces you to step outside of yourself and try to be objective, which is one of the hardest things to do.

  10. I think my brain has fried on information overload! Your self help article divides websites into several categories. If you were to pick one for someone to focus on that is trying to learn web design and promotion which would it be? I realize all categories are a piece of the puzzle; however, as web rookie, learning them all at once is impossible!

  11. Hi John,

    I’ve heard the suggestion that if you want to become a good photographer, look at a lot of photos, and if you want to become a good writer, read a lot of books and everything else you can get your hands upon. When I first started working on the Web, I spent a lot of time looking at other web sites, and trying to think critically about them – and I took notes. I asked myself questions like the following:

    • What kind of impression does the site leave upon me when I first view it?
    • Do I like the colors used?
    • Do I like the logo?
    • Do I like the design?
    • Is it easy to tell what the site is about?
    • Who are the intended audiences for the site?
    • What is there for those audiences to do on the site?
    • Are the words used on the pages (in the titles, in headings, and in other parts of the pages) the right ones for the audience of the site?
    • Do the design and content of the site match well?
    • Is the design appropriate for the audience?
    • If I land on any page, can I get an idea of where I can go from that page, and what I can do on the site?
    • Are there parts of pages that I like better than other parts, and what does the source code look like?
    • Does it have a robots.txt file?
    • Does it have unique content on every page?
    • What did I like?
    • What did I dislike?
    • How easy was the site to use?
    • What would I have done differently?

    This is a little different approach than the one that I suggested above, but I found it useful because it’s project-based. You just have one website in front of you, and you can focus just upon it. Taking notes forces you to articulate what you find good and bad about a site, which can help you to teach yourself and to remember.

  12. Hi Joel,

    Thanks. I think it’s one of the most important exercises, too.

    You can learn a lot about your site from feedback by phone or email from customers and potential customers, but if you can anticipate potential problems or questions, and respond to them quicky and professionally or even before they become problems then you may just end up with a better website and a more successful business.

  13. this article is really helpful i am on my plan to start a business a online web business and this article has really helped me to gain lot of knowledge , excellent post

    thanks

  14. Really nice post, I imagine this will be linked to a lot! All it needs to give it an academic twist is a fancy name or diagram, I might have a play and see if I can come up with something for you!

  15. Hi Macky,

    You’re welcome. When I wrote this, I was thinking of my early days as a webmaster, and something that might have helped me bring a little more structure to learning more about things that might help me. I think there are more and better tools out now that a webmaster can use, and better sources of information, but I know it can be overwhelming. Good luck with your business.

  16. Hi Jimmy,

    Thanks for your kind words, and your enthusiasm. A diagram to go with the post would be a great idea – wish I had thought of that when I was writing the post. :)

  17. Currently, I am delving into the accessibility side of things. It is amazing how much you could forget to do, and how it can be easy to correct, when you realize what you have done. I might add information architecture as #13. Maybe that could be combined with usability; however, I perceive them a bit differently. Particularly with a blog format, we can add posts, categories, links, and other media. We really need to understand how these bits and pieces fit together, then how hose items will be used. Once we understand our site’s architecture, we can move onto making it usable.

  18. Hi Frank,

    Accessibility is an area that I would love to see more people pay attention to.

    Information architecture is a great additional choice. It’s as important to SEO as it is to usability. Starting with an intelligently organized site makes both SEO and usability easier, and many of the recommendations that I end up making for sites involve information architecture.

    The book “Information architecture for the World Wide Web,” By Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville is a nice introduction to the topic. One of my favorite sites on information architecture is Boxes and Arrows.

  19. What a great service this blog post is, Bill. I wish more small business owners took their web sites more seriously, and this post can really help them.

    I would suggest for your 13th area. Understand that my own clientele are in larger measure small and very small local businesses, not eCommerce sites. As such, this area may apply more to my own subset of web site owners, but I submit it for consideration anyway.

    Friendliness

    If you have a business that involves personal interaction, whether face to face or over the phone or the Internet, your web site needs to convince the visitor that he or she wants to do business with you. You need to convince them that you care about them, that you’re approachable, and that you can relate to them in plain, simple English instead of jargon. If you can make the visitor understand that you “get” them, they’ll be much more favorably disposed to doing business with you.

  20. Would “Searchability” fall under SEO, or would that be a #13. I mess around with a little SEO for our company sites and others on the side, but it seems to change quite often. I think that SEO is seperate from searchability in the fact that google or yahoo might not like your SEO, design, or you are not targeting the right “type in terms” for your site and the people searching your arena.

  21. “Self-help” is a very important concept for the business owner to embrace, not only for the Web (which your self-help list highlights) but also for marketing in general. Two books identify important responsibilities for the business owner to accept: marketing vision and marketing execution. Your readers may enjoy what “Total Integrated Marketing-Breaking the Bounds of the Function” (Hulbert) and “Execution” (Bossidy and Charan) say about them.

  22. Hi Bill,

    Thank you very much.

    Friendliness sounds like it would just as easily fit into Franklin’s list as it would mine. I think it would be a great addition to any “self help” that a person would want to spend time working on, and developing. I like your examples as well.

  23. Hi Jameson,

    I’ve seen people write about “findability” as if it were something different from SEO as well. I would think that the way you are writing about “searchability” might be close to what they’ve meant about findability. I guess whether you think they are separate from SEO might depend upon how broadly or narrowly you define SEO. but it’s definitely something to think about.

  24. Hi Don,

    Thank you. I agree with you that self help can be a key to success for many businesses and business owners. Thanks for the suggestions on the books and further reading. I’ve looked them up, and they look interesting.

  25. First a statement and then a question.

    Personally I have been meddling with websites with limited success for a couple of years now, most probably because I have failed to have one area or virtue let alone thirteen.

    Do you think that there is a possibility that Google might find itself overrun by a new wiz kid start up that actually gives relevant results to the search?

    I feel that Google results are so limited and that any spammer with some automated software can have a sales page riding high in Goggles first page search results when websites with actual valuable free information relevant to the search term are hidden somewhere on page 1313.

    I read somewhere that 20 million pages are being added to the internet every day and I guess that there are ten trillion parked domain names and if Google can’t do it now will it ever.

    Did you ever feel that as a start up Google was interested in Search but when Corporate America got involver it became more about the money?

    A bottom line approach is a sure sign of the end of innovation.

  26. Hi Foolish Fish,

    I know what you mean about meddling. That’s why the idea behind this post appealed to me – it provides some focus.

    I think it’s quite possible that someone could come along out of nowhere and give Google a serious run for their money. Whether it’s a brand new search engine from a startup, or one that’s been quietly under development for years from a business that’s been around for years, such as IBM or HP or someone else is another question.

    I do believe that Google is getting better at finding and handling automated spam, but you will see web spam in search results from time to time because the search engine tried to find automated ways to handle spam problems as much as possible, which means that some will slip through.

    There is a lot of new information being added to the Web everyday, not only in the form of new pages, but also on pages where content changes. I think that’s one reason why we see patents from Google and Yahoo and Microsoft dealing with advances in Data Center technology and server software and hardware.

    Google does seem to be focusing more on things other than search, including web-enabled phones and book scanning, and other areas that appear to be moving further away from search. I’m not so sure that it’s all about the money, though. For instance, if we look back five or six years at some of the patent filings from Google, we see signs that they were interested in the mobile web and in book search even back then.

  27. I truly like your logical approach to organizing this thought process. And perhaps a priority rank order is required with sub topics under each category. Several of the comment issues are valid as are the additional category suggestions, including ‘technical’ but others perhaps too centered. However I respect everybody’s opinion. That is what discourse and debate in our free speech society is all about.

    I am a self taught do it yourselfer. I pass out free information, teach class and lead a Web networking group. I concentrate mainly with people struggling to grapple with the over abundance of information available on the Web. There is a large percentage of laggards (old traditional marketing term) who still deny the impact Web marketing has had and will continue to have.

    It took several years for the ‘light bulb’ to go on in my head and to put it all together. The learning curve is steep. I most certainly agree for a new business person to grasp all of these intricacies is daunting. For an established business owner to take away from his business to learn all of this is impossible. I know, I mentor and coach those willing to learn.

    Each person is different and their learning skills as well. Mentoring has proven to be very rewarding and self satisfying. Dealing with many people at a time at their own pass while gentling pushing them in their own directions is exhilarating.

    I read a recent blog about the differences between “Technical” and “Marketing” SEO. It truly explains my forte as a Marketing SEO. My personal exception to your article is grouping marketing and sales into the same category as well as allocating so little space to it. I have been a professional consultative salesperson for almost thirty years. Selling, or getting a signed contract or an oral agreement is not marketing. The applications and techniques are way different.

    Getting people to notice your company, product, service or brand to learn more about it is marketing. It is your Google search engine result as well as your landing page appeal. Marketing gives notice of yourself. It is the “matchmaker” which gives salespeople the opportunity to meet and discuss their products and services with prospects. Good marketing brings qualified prospects to the same table with the sales closer. The consultative salesman’s job is to match the prospects needs to the product or service offered. Or, he says there is no fit here (as opposed to the hard seller whose goal is to sell everyone!).

    The one thing I know about Web marketing is it is no different than retail marketing. Without traffic there are no prospects. Without prospects there are no sales. Without sales there is no business, or anything else! Just an outline of the facets you omitted in both categories would exceed the space allocated to the extended details in two or three of the other categories.

    I wrote about your article on my log this morning since I found it both intriguing stimulating. Please expect a trackback. I would be most happy to guest blog on the subject of marketing and selling on the Web for small businesses and invite you to guest blog on my site.

  28. Hi Mike,

    A priority ordering might make sense, but I like the idea that if someone spends a week focusing a little more on each topic, then they would revisit each one every four weeks (given 13 topics), and after going through a cycle of two, the order might not be as important. I listed the topics I came up with alphabetically, but they don’t need to be in that order.

    Everyone’s learning style is a little different, and some people do well with more structure and structured environments like classrooms. But often, there aren’t classes that teach topics like online marketing or sales or usability. I’ve seen the phrase “the best place to learn about the Web is on the Web” repeated in a number of places, and there may be some validity to that. The kind of mentoring that you mention and are involved in can be pretty helpful.

    I did group sales and marketing into the same umbrella, and that probably is a mistake. As I noted above, if you asked 100 people to come up with topics for a self help approach like this, you would probably get 100 different sets of topics. Sales would make a very good addition.

    Thanks.

  29. ive been working for the web for 2 straight years now, but none of those job made me a boss, i was always been a back up of all the JOBS, but now i’ve decided to work for my own as boss, but i have to work double time. and start things all over again. and find client to work for me, but hey! this topic really hits me on the right spot.

    nice article.!!

    looking forward to read on some next topics.

  30. Hi donreyconstantino,

    Thank you. It can be pretty challenging to start out on your own, and succeed in a web-based business. Good luck to you in yours.

  31. inspirational post. i only recently started out on the web, so i have a lot to learn. it will probably be a while before i start my own list of 13 things.

  32. Hi Kevin,

    I wish you much luck on your journey. Hopefully you’ll find something like what I’ve spelled out in this post helpful along the way.

  33. Glad you mentioned SEO. I get a kick out of training my clients on the basics of SEO. Once they understand the fundamentals they start to think along the same lines and it definitely makes my life easier. Plus once I teach them how to read their Google Analytics, they really enjoy following their website’s performance. It also validates everything I’ve been telling them. I wrote a nice tutorial on basic SEO techniques here:

    http://www.claytowne.com/beats-digging-ditches/seo-tutorial-how-to-optimize-a-website-for-search-engine-success/

    It’s aimed at newbies but a good refresher for those that know a little already.

  34. Hi Clay,

    It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that I included SEO, considering the name of my site and the focus of most of my posts. :)

    Some nice advice in your tutorial. I really do think it helps site owners to try to learn as much as they can on topics like SEO and Analytics.

  35. I really liked the first idea of trustability & credibility.

    However I’d like to add another suggestion, Education.

    The internet has changed the shopping habits of every surfer. Gone are the days of going to your local shop or store and discussing your requirements before making a final selection.

    The internet savvy shopper will spend some time online investigating their problem before selecting the right product or service to provide a solution. Even then the purchase process is not yet complete, as the internet shopper still has to make a choice as to where to make his or her purchase. This inevitably comes down to price and trust in the site selling the product. Sites that provide plenty of educational material to assist the online shopper in solving their problem will have built up an element of trust and therefore be high on the list when it comes to making a purchase.

    I guess in a round about way I’ve come back to the trust idea mentioned 1ST!

  36. Hi Michelle,

    Those are some very good points. Making it easier for people to make informed decisions can be the difference between making a sale on many ecommerce sites. Learning how best to educate consumers could be a useful skill to have. Thanks.

  37. One of my biggest concerns for small business owners is the number of ‘cheap’ website options out there. Buying a nice design for a few hundred pounds/dollars is all well and good, but the true value of a website is in your potential customers being able to find it and use it. All of the points you make are valid and mainly come from designers who take an interest in the business rather than just churning out dozens of ‘bespoke’ websites. My small business consultants company does a lot of web design for small businesses and we always make sure that the basics have been covered as far as SEO is concerned – at least business owners have a chance of succeeding instead of an expensive site that’s hidden away on a server, never to be found.

  38. Hi Mick,

    Thanks. Most of the points I made come from my experiences starting out with one site as the webmaster, and learning a lot of lessons along the way. :)

    Ideally, as you note, it’s much better for a business to develop a web site that is findable by its intended audience. I agree completely that the basics of SEO should at the very least be included in the development and design of a site. I see many that haven’t been. It’s part of the reason why I wrote this post.

  39. I really like the fact that you have “write tutorials” immediately following “read tutorials” under the Coding field. In challenging myself to teach somebody else something that I have recently learned myself, I am forced to solidify my own understanding of the concepts and given the opportunity to give back to the community which has given me so much. Good tip!

  40. Hi Barry,

    Thanks. Sometimes when you set out to teach others, you learn as much or more yourself.

    I know that when I set out to try to teach something, I spend a lot of time thinking about the best way to help others understand. Sometimes that means finding good reference materials. Sometimes it means going step-by-step through something, possibly creating screenshots or images to present a visual way of showing what you’re teaching.

    It can be challenging to teach, but it can be a lot of fun, too.

  41. Thanks Bill, this article really make you stop and think for a minute. I look forward to meeting you at the Meet Up on Tuesday.

  42. Hi Susan,

    Thank you very much. One of the best places to learn about the Web is on the Web, but the Web is so unstructured that it can be hard to come up with a method for finding all of that information. Hopefully this article gave you, and many of the others who may have read it some ideas about how they can add structure to what they are learning.

  43. Hi Genna,

    Thank you. I’m not sure that I’ve been focusing enough upon accessibility lately, but I just thought of something I’d like to add to this site.

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