U-G-L-Y, You Ain’t Got No Alibi…

Ever been on a blind date? Did you make sure to put pieces of spinach between your teeth beforehand so you could look unattractive? Ever been to a job interview? Did you go wearing an Ozzy Osbourne T-shirt and your fluffy bunny slippers?

Of course you didn’t! So tell me, why do you think you can make money in affiliate marketing if your Web site is downright u-g-l-y?

Chances are that 75 percent of the people reading this article have badly designed Web sites — and, if you’re part of that 75 percent, you’ll never make the kind of referrals you dreamed of when you started your Web site.

Here are a few examples of what bad design is:

  • Poor color choices
  • Unreadable or hard-to-read text (light colors, dark backgrounds, small type, etc.)
  • Inconsistent use, or lack, of navigation

The number one rule is a design is bad if it confuses your customer in any way.

You may be driving 1 million hits a day to your Web site through good search engine optimization, and you may be converting a lot of those visitors into sales. However, have you considered how many conversions you’re missing because of how awful your Web site looks?

Consider this your wakeup call. You don’t have to have a bad design. First impressions mean everything in sales. Your visitors decide if they are going to trust you in an instant, before any copy is read or any product is seen. And regardless of what other affiliate marketers may have told you, if your Web site doesn’t look at least a little bit professional, you’ll never earn your customer’s trust.

So what can you do? Here are some tips.

Get a Template Design

Check your HTML tool to see if it has any Web templates you can use. If those aren’t good enough, do a search online for “Web site design templates” and you’ll find many companies offering low-cost Web design templates you can buy.

Don’t buy from the first link you click on. Find a company with many different types of templates to choose from, and compare the quality of its designs with several other companies.

Send the company an email asking why its Web templates are right for your affiliate business. If company execs want the sale badly enough, they’ll help you. Make sure the template you buy will function properly in the HTML editor of your choice.

Avoid companies that fail to ask you for specific demographic and target information on your visitors. If staffers don’t know whom they are designing for, how can they design the right message and functionality? Many of them just want to ship you a template out of the box. Though that may work sometimes, does it really make sense to design your Web site without considering what your customers want?

Find a Local Designer

Open your phone book and look under “Internet development.” Choose a few companies and give them a call. Be honest with them and tell them how much money you are willing to spend, even if it is only a few hundred dollars. You’d be surprised how many big firms will take your money these days.

If you can’t find anyone in the phone book, check out The Firm List and search for local design firms in your city. You can also post your request on Elance, and designers will bid for your business.

Post Your Site for Review on a Web Discussion Board

Explain your Web site’s goals and ask for suggestions on how to improve the site. A good place to start is A Best Web, which is specifically targeted at affiliate marketers.

Another good place to get a design review is at CoolHomepages.com. Make sure to check out the thousands of design examples for inspiration.

Never Forget!

Designing a successful affiliate Web site is 100 times more difficult than designing a piece of brochureware. Why? Because affiliate Web sites have to be not only attractive but also optimized for the search engines and quickly downloadable — all in one tight little package.

Unfortunately, most affiliate marketers believe it is impossible to have nicely designed Web sites because they sacrifice too much in search engine optimization. That statement might be partly true; however, it is possible to look good and search well.

Professional Web designers will know how make your site look good while keeping it fast and search engine ready. Make sure they understand your needs before they get to work.

Get the Basics

If you’re looking for more tips on Web site design, take a look at Gerry McGovern’s “Web Design Basics.”

Following these guidelines will get you on the fast track to bigger commission checks. Please let me know if you have any other ways to improve Web designs for affiliates.

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