How To Design A Web Page That Sells: Part 1
By Charles Lewis
Sales copy is important. So is price, and product quality. What's just as important as all of these, however, is a well designed, easy-to-navigate web site. If your visitor is forced to find their way through an incomprehensible network of non-descriptive links, and poor overall navigational structure, he or she will probably leave your site without spending a single dime.
You see, many people simply assume that computers are evil and difficult to use right off the get go. This may seem appalling to you -- as an Internet expert -- but it really is a justifiable belief. For example, my own computer told me the other day that if she had to go any longer without an upgrade, she'd kill me while I sleep.
We're not going to get into the gory details of the events which followed, but allow me to give you these few words of advice:
Next time your computer threatens your life - go to sleep. When you wake up, you'll realize that computers can't really talk, and they surely can't make a conscious decision to cause harm.
Or, you'll be dead.
Nevertheless, you won't find out until it is too late. The point of the story is, that you must make the most easy-to-use web site that is possible, for these Internet skeptics -- those who believe that computers are inherently evil. You must prove them wrong.
Back to web design. Step one of how to design a web page that sells, is to have the right tools. You can build a site with freeware, and you can fix a leaky faucet with a piece of chewed up bubble gum. The result? A shoddy web site, and a leaky faucet.
Without the right tools, your site will not be the best it can be. It's possible to market your site on a $0 budget (see http://www.webprozone.com/articles/000101.html, and Chapter two of COE-D, my Internet marketing strategy guide, at http://www.coe-d.com/secret/course/promo002mk3.html). However, the foundation (your web site) must be strong if you are planning on making any of the green stuff (money, that is).
## WEB DESIGN SOFTWARE
There are a variety of web design software packages to choose from. First, we'll take a look at Microsoft's Front Page 2000. It's easy to use, and works much like MS Word. Now, listen up. Front page creates sloppy code, and Bill Gates is the root of all evil. Don't go near this program if you are serious about creating a top-notch web site. And, if you have already been infected (as I once was), read on to find the cure.
Macromedia Dreamweaver is the best there is, in my opinion, and you can get a fully functional 30-day trial for free at:
The interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, but rest assured, you'll get used to it in no time. Dreamweaver also comes with a complete tutorial, so even if you don't know a thing about building a web site, you're good to go.
## GRAPHICS SOFTWARE
Before you get serious about designing web graphics, there is one tool you need to have. Without this tool, many of the things you'll want to do with your graphics will simply be impossible. It's called a graphics tablet, and is a sketchpad for your computer -- very easy to use, and lots of fun.
I recommend using the Wacom Graphire Tablet ($89 US). You can pick one up at your local CDW, Best Buy, Circuit City, or any other respectable computer store. If you don't have a USB port, you'll need one. If you do not have one, worry not. A USB port will only cost you between $20-30.
For the actual graphics, there are many possibilities. I use Adobe Photoshop 6.0. It's my favorite program of all, but it does however, cost $609. If you have that kind of money, go ahead and buy it. There are literally thousands of plug-ins you can download from all over the Internet, allowing you to instantly add glamorous effects to your graphics with the click of a button.
Photoshop is somewhat difficult to understand at first, but once you get the hang of it - much like with Macromedia Dreamweaver, you'll be glad you decided to go with the best.
Other options for graphics programs include Macromedia Fireworks (free trial at http://www.macromedia.com/software/fireworks/trial/), NetStudio Easy Web Graphics (www.netstudio.com), or Paint Shop Pro v7 (free trial at http://www.jasc.com/download_4.asp).
I have absolutely no experience with the above three programs, but I have heard good things about all of them. Check them out, and see which one is right for you.
## IMAGE OPTIMIZATION
In order to have a quick loading web page, you'll need to optimize your web graphics. Image optimization means taking an image, and reducing its file size without significantly compromising the overall visual quality.
Adobe Photoshop has a unique "Save For Web" command, which does just this. However, I only use it when I'm saving a single one-slice image.
When I must take a large image, say, the visual template for my entire web page, and slice it up to fit in the desired window space, I use Ulead Smartsaver Pro v3.0. Download a free 15-day trial at http://www.ulead.com/ssp/trial.htm.
That just about wraps it up for this week's article on how to design a web page that sells. Next week, you'll learn how to formulate a navigational structure that makes sense, and leads your visitor to the product each and every time.
Here are a few links to HTML and web graphics tutorials and books that you should read if you're serious about building a high quality web site.
## Web Design Articles & Tutorials
Web design articles
TopHosts.com Free HTML Tutorials
## Web Design Books (rated by number of stars/asterisks)
Web Pages That Suck: Learn Good Design by Looking at Bad Design (Rating: ****)
Teach Yourself Visually Dreamweaver 4 (Rating: ***)
How To Do Everything With Dreamweaver 4 (Rating: ***)
The Everything Build Your Own Home Page Book: Create a Site You'll Be Proud Of, Without Becoming a Programmer (Rating: **)
Note: All of these books are available at http://www.Amazon.com/
## Graphics Articles & Tutorials
Adobe Photoshop Tutorials
## Graphics Books
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 Classroom in a Book (Rating: ****)
Adobe Photoshop 6.0 Web Design (Rating: ****)
Photoshop 6.0 A to Z: The Essential Visual Reference Guide (Rating: ***)
Playing With Fire: Tapping the Power of Macromedia Fireworks 4 (Rating: ****)
Macromedia Fireworks 4 Fast & Easy Web Development (Rating: ****)
Complete Idiots Guide to Paint Shop Pro 7 (Rating: ****)
Note: All of these books are available at http://www.Amazon.com/
Charles Lewis is editor of "The Cre@tive Marketer", a weekly newsletter dedicated to delivering proven online marketing techniques. To sign up and receive a free copy of his $39 Internet marketing strategy guide, click on the following URL: http://www.webprozone.com/creative.html