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I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Balance

Making content web friendly

Websites are about information so it makes sense that you need to provide good content if you want your website to be successful.

Obviously, a site with fantastic content that is hard to find can only have limited success so there needs to be a balance between the content and the site itself being user friendly.

Without going into web design aspects of a site, here are some of my top tips for making your web content usable and attractive:

  1. keep each page focussed and a reasonable length (300 to 500 words is usually ideal). If there is additional information that could potentially help some site visitors, put it on a new page and link to it rather than putting everything into one page.
  2. use headings and sub-headings. There are a number of reasons for this – it makes the text visually more apepaling, is easier to skim read, helps focus and define sections of text and can help with search engines (especially if you use heading styles rather than manually adding font styles).
  3. use white space. For example, I am adding an empty line between each of these bullet points so it is easier to see the difference between them and the page doesn’t look so text heavy.
  4. don’t feel your website has to explain everything. I have had many clients who put too much information into their text ‘just in case’ a client wants to know those details. People get bored and/or overwhelmed by too much details, especially on websites, so keep it simple by giving the important details. You can always link to the fine details or encourage them to contact you for them.
  5. web content is not like a novel, or even a school essay, so get to the point fast. A beautiful introduction may be very nice but will frustrate someone who is trying to decide if you can provide the service/product they are after. If a long introduction and sales pitch means the real informatoin is so low on the page you have to scroll to read it, you can bet not many people will actually read it.
    So prioritise your information and put the important bits first.
  6. Keep your content fresh, up-to-date and error-free. Spend some of your website maintenance time adding new content and reviewing the current site (for instance, when did you last check for faulty links on your site?)
  7. Write for human beings, not search engines. That means don’t add too many keywords and concentrate on providing useful information rather than trying to impress a search engine.

Work/life balance…

time vs money scalesA survey conducted last year by a software firm called Reckon indicated that over 50% of respondents judge their success by having a life/work balance rather than high profits (as preferred by 33% of them.) The survey questioned 1300 small to medium enterprises (SMEs) across Australia.

In comparison, a survey by the Business Mums Network, also last year, discovered that nearly 65% of respondents (mostly micro businesses run at home by mothers) started a business to be with their children and 44% started to earn money.

In both cases, it appears that small business owners are interested in a life/work balance, including more family time, that they believe is available as employees. Although the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008 (released last week) indicates that employees have reduced their working hours in the last 6 or 7 years (41.4 hours per week in 1999/2000 and 39.4 in 2006/07)

The Reckon survey also pointed out that 18% of SMEs found the accounting aspect of business to be holding them back from success (that is, accounts take up time that could otherwise be used for family time) and 17% found a drop in personal drive to be limiting.

What do you think? Do you run a small business for control and life balance, or primarily for profits? Is there a certain aspect of your business that you find particularly difficult or time consuming?

PS A new survey is currently underway to find out how small/micro businesses view their finances. It will be interesting to see if the micro business responses again differ from the SME responses.