Friday, September 22, 2017
     Interactive Web Design, Database Integration, Online Promotion, ECommerce Tools & Business Resources


DO YOU HAVE AN "INTERACTIVE" WEB SITE?

By Mark Idzik

After designing web sites for almost five years, I've learned that "interactive-less" sites don't work well.

Here's what I mean. If you have a site with a few pictures, list of your services, some information about your company, and your phone number, you're losing lots of business.

Compare this with a site that has a regular or period newsletter, email or contact forms, a feedback or discussion forum, search facility, updated links to related sites, updated FAQ pages, testimonials, tips or suggestions page, recommend this site feature, random photos, automatic price quotes, secure shopping carts or automatically updated pages.

There's no comparison is there?

There are always exceptions, but from experience, I've found that if you add ways visitors can interact with you or others online, they stay longer, and if you provide what they are looking for, will be more likely to do business with you.

Take for example our HelpTalk Online site http://www.helptalk.com. The main goal behind the site is to provide a forum for computer users to get help on the software or hardware they use. We added tools to allow visitors to ask questions and get answers online. We added links to informative sites. We also added a periodic newsletter with updates on software & hardware news as well as special offers and changes at HelpTalk.

We started over a year ago with no promotion, and no advertising, and now have over 300,000 visitors a month. One of the most popular forums, Windows 95/98/NT, had over 50,000 visitors and 150,000 page views this past month. It's become a "daily visit" for people who are having trouble with Windows (who isn't!) to exchange solutions, ask questions and get answers. They enjoy being able to interact with others that have similar challenges or solutions. Without these tools, they wouldn't keep coming back.

Some interactive tools you could add include:

  • discussion boards
  • email newletters
  • electronic postcards
  • random quotes, news articles, specials or announcements
  • "recommend-this-site" feature
  • secure shopping carts
  • let users make their own home page
  • "locate a dealer near you" system
  • weather in your area
  • automatic price quotes
  • recommended books or software in your field
  • recommended links to related sites
  • auto-responders
  • feedback forms
  • affiliate program
  • surveys or polls
  • site search or web search
You can find cgi scripts or 3rd party services to add the above features to your site. Here are a few places to find them:

Good luck and happy "interacting"!

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