Update That Website—Now! Page 2

Increasing Response
People are moving faster and faster and will click out of your site if you have long download times. Think of your homepage as a billboard with 5-10 seconds to capture the interest of the "driver."

The more useful and dynamic the content you can place on your site, the more likely your site will get more visits (people staying and looking) instead of just hits (people looking and leaving). Give people a reason to look around with content beyond the usual portfolio slide shows. Give people a reason to come back--many are just looking and not ready to contact you on the first visit.

One good example of content is to include client testimonials or success stories, especially those by first-time clients. These are easy to capture from your satisfied clients and will increase your credibility. Remember, people visiting your website do not know you yet and need to be convinced you are a trustworthy professional.

Another example is to refresh your images and content on a regular basis. To keep people coming back to visit your site, it is important that you regularly change the information. This includes the images, information on exhibits and any press releases, interesting articles or links to articles, conferences, trade shows, related clubs or organizations--even your favorite charity! All of this content tells clients more about you.

Contact Us
Finally, try this big change to your website. Change the "contact us" from a blank e-mail link to a form. The best way to create a contact page is to use a form that allows the client to e-mail you without leaving your site. Be sure to put a "contact information" button that links to the form on each web page. Do not just list your e-mail address as a contact; this is passive and not interactive, and it makes you visible to "spam-spiders" that search the web for e-mail addresses. Besides, clicking that e-mail link just opens a blank message to you in the client's e-mail program. Instead, using a form will make it easy. Anything that makes it simple will increase the chance that people will hire you!

Improving Sales
"I get lots of hits to my photography website but few sales--how do I improve response to my site?" I get asked this question a lot and have looked outside our industry to successful e-commerce sites for some answers to the question. In general, photography websites need to be more customer or client "friendly" with a range of issues to deal with from ease of navigation to details like how to contact you. Here are just some of the ideas I have seen that you can use, add, or update on your photography website:
· Be able to zoom in on images for greater detail.
· Make sure the type is large enough to read, with contrasting foreground and background colors.
· Try printing your web pages to a laser printer to verify that they are readable.
· Use multiple payment options if you are selling prints or portrait packages.
· Offer consultations on your services if you market to commercial clients.
· Sell gift certificates for your services if you market to consumers clients.
· Make sure the viewer can easily get around (navigational bars on each page).
· Include a page stating your policy on privacy and security.
· A toll-free number for handling sales and answering questions.

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