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Archive for March, 2007

Web Statistics

There is a lot of information you can get from how users navigate your site by viewing your web statistics.  When asking other golf pros if they know their most popular pages, most say no.  They just put up information without giving thought as to what viewers are looking for.  For example, if you have banquet facilities how much information should you include?  Should we post photos, menus, PDF files to download and online forms?  If you have a single page and it is frequently viewed, then the answer should be yes.

I randomly picked 5 golf course sites I maintain and came up with some interesting information:
Average daily unique visitors: 70
Top 5 pages viewed in order:

1) Calendar
2) Rates
3) Banquets
4) Location
5) Photo Gallery/Virtual Tour

The calendar page was far above the 2nd place page on every site.  The only other pages that made it to the top 5 on 1 or 2 courses were leagues and weather.

People obviously want to know what’s going on at your club so make sure it’s easy for them to view your events; whether in an interactive calendar or a simple list. Most are surprised that the banquet pages are so often viewed and most have extended their banquet pages by offering photos, menus and forms.  If you club is looking for more wedding business, this is a MUST!  Some have even created a separate website just for their wedding business.

If your site isn’t getting the visitors count you think it deserves, there are two reasons.  One is the content; there is not enough current and quality content.  The second reason is that your site has not been optimized for search engines.  Most of your visitors will reach your site from a search engine.  We’ll cover some basic SEO (search engine optimaztion) techniques in a subsequent post.

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Twitter

Twitter seems to be the latest craze.  It’s like a mini-blog where people post very short messages.  But go to their Twittervision page and if you’re like me you’ll watch it for minutes mesmorized.

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Text on Your Website

When I deal with a new client, one of the biggest discussions (argument?) we have is how to display text.  Many people want to display their text as a graphic because it gives them more control over the type of font and various ways to dress it up by using shadows, gradient fills, etc.  Hey, I admit it looks great!

But text should almost never be a graphic.  Just look at the new Golf.com website which I think does a terrific job in web design.  You see almost no text displayed as a graphic.  From the “Web Pages that Suck” site, they pretty much sum it up:

“Text is Text. Don’t use graphics or Flash for text. The first reason is it increases the size of the page; the second reason is it isn’t search engine friendly; the third reason is the graphics are often of poor quality and are aliased (jaggy); and fourth, mistakes are hard to correct.”

Another mistake is not having enough contrast.  Remember that not everyone has a quality monitor or have it set properly.  I have put together sites that look great on my expensive graphics monitor only to show it to a client on their machine and you can’t read the text. Remember that search engines are blind.  They can’t read graphics, they only can read text.

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If you want to succeed in today’s internet world, you have to read the 95 Theses from the Cluetrain Manifesto. To quote:

“Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.”

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The Golf Season has Begun!

After another 5 months of winter and no golf, the first of the Minnesota courses are now open.  I just received emails from both Oak Marsh and Mississippi Dunes that the are either open or opening soon.  For a mostly up-to-date list check out Kevin’s Twin Cities Golf site.

Let’s hope this is a good year.  As most know, the golf business has been in a slump the past few years. This is mostly due to too many courses and too few players.  I think this was covered in Economics 101 – we either need more players or fewer courses.  The MN PGA is trying to work on the first part with their Play Golf Minnesota program.

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There are all kinds of great articles about what makes a good website.  But I find some of the best at a place called “Web Pages That Suck“.

Look over this list, and I’m sure you’ll find some good info.

Here’s a quick list from their site:

  1. Believing people care about you and your web site.
  2. A man from Mars can’t figure out what your web site is about in less than four seconds.
  3. Mystical belief in the power of Web Standards, Usability, and tableless CSS.
  4. Using design elements that get in the way of your visitors.
  5. Navigational failure.
  6. Using Mystery Meat Navigation.
  7. Thinking your web site is your marketing strategy.
  8. Site lacks Heroin Content.
  9. Forgetting the purpose of text.
  10. Too much material on one page.
  11. Confusing web design with a magic trick.
  12. Misusing Flash.
  13. Misunderstanding the use of graphics.
  14. AfFrontPage
  15. Javascript

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Flash on your site

I have to admit it.  I dislike Flash websites. I have the software and know how to use it’s basic functions.  But other than fading in/out photos, I can’t find another useful purpose.  Now here is a very attractive Flash golf course site that is created entirely with Flash. One major downfall is that it kills search engine ranking.  You also can not set up a CMS (content management system) so users can edit their own content, the pages are not searchable (CTR-F) and they usually require you to double-click links rather than the standard single click.  And many sites tend to have too much of the “gee whiz” effect for me.  Are these the kinds of sites that people will want to see time and time again?  Most of your visitors are not first-timers.  Or at least you hope not.

If you’ve found a really good, functional Flash created golf site, let me know.  I’m still looking…..

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