Volume 35, Number 3, March 2000

Knowing the Keys

Radios, televisions, newspapers, magazines, billboards—everywhere are advertisements for websites, the world’s newest information source. Ten years ago, the local library was the best source of information and the fastest way of finding a phone number was thumbing through the Yellow Pages, or simply dialing 0 for the operator. But, like everything else, times have changed. Today, thousands of informative, and even not so informative pages of facts, figures and phone numbers are available to anyone with a computer and modem.

More and more businesses turn to electronic media everyday to promote, market and sell their products. “The Web is becoming a digital billboard on the information super highway,” says Eric Asbery, vice president of Equalizer Industries.

Asbery, who, in addition to developing the Equalizer page, has also assisted other companies with their websites, says the key component of a good site is simplicity. Created in 1995, his comp-any’s site, equalizer.com, has, for the past two years, won the Web Marketing Association Award for Standard of Excellence.

“Our site has been successful due to its simplicity, and keeping it as basic as possible,” he says. “You don’t want to overload anything.”

According to Asbery, a direct, focused, informative site is the best way for a company to make a good first impression with its web page. “The first page of every site should list the companies essential information—who we are, where we are, what we do and how to contact us.”

Keeping a website in tune and up-to-date with not only company activities and news, but also popular Internet trends and advancements, lets customers know you are working to remain in the forefront of your industry.

However, too much of anything can take away from a sites appeal and popularity. Busy, excessive graphics, animations and brightly meshed colors are elements that should be avoided.

“A common misconception about websites is that the more flashy, animated and colorful a sight looks, the more people pay attention to it,” says Asbery. “Good websites are simple and easy to navigate.”

In addition, Asbery points out that websites should only focus on two or three topics per page and should never be one continual scrolling page. “When someone downloads a site like this, it takes forever for the site to transfer over to his or her connection, and they will eventually move on to another site.” He also says websites should be like stores, focusing on the products it sells, rather than the fact that it’s a web page.

A site’s domain name is another feature to keep in mind. Since web surfers often type in the name of company dot com to search for the site, many businesses use its company name for its web domain. Sometimes, however, a particular name may already be registered to another company. If this is the case, Asbery recommends putting a dash in the name, such as your-company.com, and avoid abbreviations because they’re not as likely thought of. “Using your domain name as the primary connection to your site will improve your traffic, and be easy to remember.”

The Internet today is faster, smarter and more graphical, and there’s no doubt it will continue to advance. Websites that stay on track with improvement and changes can expect a long future in Cyberspace. In addition, thousands of website ideas are scattered all across the web. Keep in mind, however, that although a certain feature works for one site doesn’t mean it will work for another. The image a business website creates, for many customers, will be their first impression of the company. Make it a good one.

 

Does Your Site Make the Grade?

 Hundreds of Internet sites, maintained by glass industry professionals, are listed in the USGlass Fourth Annual Guide to Industry Websites. In addition to news and product information, each site offers it’s own creative flare. With the key essentials to a good website in mind, the USGlass staff searched and critiqued a sampling of the sites and pulled together our top picks.

 Southwall Technologies    www.southwall.com

The site maintained by Southwall Technologies was ranked our number one pick. This site features a simple renaissance design of six horizontally lined photos backed by splashes of colored photos on a white page. The six photos are also graphically enhanced to change to black and white when the mouse points to one. Visitors will find information easily available, with an index
located on each page offering links to corporate information, products, press releases and more.

Akron Hardware    www.akronhardware.com

The sharp contrast of white on indigo makes Akron Hardware’s site another top pick. The site design is easy to follow and essential company information is found at the bottom of the first page. Animated product logos add creativity and motion to the first page. Visitors can easily navigate from page to page through an index listing the site links.

Equalizer Industries Inc.    www.equalizer.com

Also worth a visit, is the award-winning site of Equalizer Industries Inc. Having earned a Standard of Excellence Award for the past two years from the Web Marketing Association, this site is a strong leader in web development. The contact information is clearly available on the first page and a searchable index is at the top of each page. Highlights include an on-line store where customers can make online purchases. 

Remember:

1. Keep the website design and layout simple, but effective;

2. Keep file sizes of graphics and animations small to ensure
a quick download;

3. Make sure essential company information is clearly
available on the FIRST page.


USG

Copyright 2000 Key Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.