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A Website To Make You Weep

Featuring the wisdom of Denny Hatch.

If you’re reading this on my BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE blog then I’m pretty sure you have the desire to start your own mail order business. There are few things more important than making sure your website is customer friendly, easy to read and to navigate. If not you’re wasting your money because your prospect who somehow has found you will not order what you are selling.

Denny Hatch one of the great freelance mail order copywriters and a regular columnist in TARGET MAGAZINE has some words of wisdom for you. This is from his column in the May 2011 issue.

“Summers during the 1960’s I used to spend an occasional weekend in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and would go to Tanglewood to hear the Boston Symphony. I remember going into a restaurant in the area one evening where a young African American jazz musician named Randy Weston was at the piano. Fifty years later, I can see him in my mind’s eye and still hear the wonderful sounds.”

“Fast forward to March 2011. It was announced that the Randy Weston Quintet would be playing in the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. I went online to see about tickets and learn more about Randy Weston’s life in the years since I heard him that one time and immediately came to his website”.

I WANTED TO WEEP

“Go to randyweston.com and you’re greeted with a handsome black and blue landing page with a sound bite of his music and a slowly spinning outline map of Africa that cross-fades into a piano then morphs into a photograph of the 85-year-old jazz legend. However it’s all downhill from there”.

“Page after page is made up of tiny dark blue or gray type against a deeper blue background. Here is a web designer showing off ‘design’ and not giving a damn whether the viewer can read anything. The site is a textbook example of what’s terrible in website design these days.”

“Quite simply the Internet—for all its flash and filigree—is essentially a print medium. Start with the basic unit: the landing page. ‘Page’ is a print term. The rules of print apply. Among them:”

  1. ‘Type smaller than nine-point is difficult for most people to read.’—David Ogilvy
  2. ‘Never set your copy in reverse (white type on a black background) and never set it over a gray or colored tint. The old school of art directors believed that these devices forced people to read the copy; we now know that they make reading physically impossible’—David Ogilvy.
  3. “Avoid ‘gray walls of type.’ Try to make the first paragraph no more than 3 lines, and no paragraph longer than seven lines”.

The reason to go to Randy Weston’s website is to learn about his work—performance schedule, biography, recordings, photos and perhaps to buy an album or two.

“Yet the design gets in the way of the visitor and makes it difficult. Take a look at two websites to see what I am talking about: Randy Weston’s (www.randyweston.com) and mine (www.dennyhatch.com)”.

“I designed my site and wrote the copy. It is not elegant, not pretty and will certainly win no awards. In fact, it’s ugly. But by golly, when you get there, you know exactly what I’m about, and what I want the visitor to do—buy my new book. In ample supply are info and some fun stuff to help make the buy-or-won’t-buy decision. And I follow the basic rule Make it easy to read and to order”.

“On Randy Weston’s site, his discography of 44 albums is unreadable—white reverse mousetype (seven-point or less!) on a blue background—as are the pages devoted to each album. If you can’t read the copy, you won’t order.”

“The tested, tried- and- true rules of design are alive and well on the Internet. What’s dead are websites created by unschooled goofballs who are breaking the rules and haven’t a clue what rules they are breaking”

To thank you for taking the time to read through my longer than usual blog, I’d be pleased to send you a copy of Denny Hatch’s “22 Rules Everyone Needs to Know to Guarantee Internet Success”. No cost, no obligation. Just shoot me an email.

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