Do your web site visitors get a virtual gold mine or the shaft?

You've seen them. The web sites that have more going on than a three-ring circus. It flashes, it plays music, and it blinks. But does it communicate with its visitors? Web sites that take advantage of the latest technology but leave old-fashioned communication at the door are missing the boat.

Follow these guidelines to ensure your site's not one of them.

· Talk to your audience. Know who you are talking to and speak to them in their language. Whether it's recruits or client prospects, make sure you communicate a clear, consistent message. What value does your firm bring to them?

· What does your image say about you? You are an accounting firm. You certainly will have a different web appearance than a high-tech video game supplier. But keep in mind that your web site should appeal to your target market. If you deal with businesses and high net-worth individuals, make sure the feel and tone of your web site will appeal to them.

· Avoid the technology trap. Technology provides a lot of bells and whistles for web designers. Make sure every element offers value to your web visitors.

· Easy to scan. Web surfers have short attention spans and limited time. They are looking for quick info. Make sure your web site offers scannable content - use bullets, short paragraphs, and larger fonts. Visitors need to be able to find information quickly, too.

· Ask for feedback. When in doubt, ask. Put a survey on your site and ask for comments about how to make your site better for your visitors. Offer a "freebie" to entice them to fill it out - it will be worth the dollars you spend.

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