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Poor Richard’s Web Site Marketing Makeover: book review

Poor Richard’s Web Site Marketing Makeover, Marcia Yudkin, Top Floor Publishing, 2001, 350 pp, ISBN 1930082169.

Cover of Poor Richard's Web Site Marketing MakeoverReviewed by Jean Hollis Weber

Whatever the subject or purpose of your website, you’re probably hoping for some positive response from your visitors. You might want them to join an organisation; attend a conference; offer you an interview (or a job); subscribe to a publication or a discussion list; learn something; be persuaded by your opinions (and do something in response); admire your photographs, artwork, writing or music; write to you; or buy something. Even if the response does not directly involve money, getting the response is still part of marketing.

This book is for you if you have a personal or professional website, or if you design sites or advise companies on web-based projects, either as a solo consultant or as part of a team.

You already know that one of the secrets to success is getting people to visit your website. How to do that is the subject of other books, including Poor Richard’s Internet Marketing and Promotions. But getting visitors is only the beginning; keeping them long enough to respond positively is the bigger challenge. I’m sure you also know that if your visitors are irritated or confused by the site’s design, can’t find the information they want quickly and easily, or have no way to gauge your credibility, they are likely to leave quickly and not return. Many of these problems are matters of usability; others arise from poorly prepared or missing content.

This book discusses the main usability and content problems of websites and what to do about them. It includes numerous examples and eight complete before-and-after makeovers. I was mildly surprised to find that I agreed with most of the makeover suggestions (often I think suggested cures are no improvement on the originals, merely substituting one set of problems for another). Read in conjunction with Steven Klug’s Don’t Make Me think, this book should help even the most inexperienced website designer create a more user-friendly site.

I was pleased to discover that many of the changes I made when redesigning my Technical Editors’ Eyrie website last year were described in this book, thus reassuring me that I’m doing something right. I had gleaned my ideas from numerous sources; if I had read this book first, I could have saved myself a lot of research time. Now that I have read the book, I’ve got a list of other improvements I need to make. No wonder websites are constantly evolving!

Here’s the book’s table of contents:

Part 1. Crucial web site elements
Chapter 1: The name plate
Chapter 2: Navigation lables and on-site searches
Chapter 3: Marketing copy
Chapter 4: Who are we?
Chapter 5: Trust-building elements
Chapter 6: Content as bait
Chapter 7: Gathering leads/members/subscribers
Chapter 8: Order forms and customer service
Chapter 9: Graphics and layout

Part 2. Putting it all together: sample makeovers
Chapter 10: Single-product sales
Chapter 11: Multi-product sales
Chapter 12: Solo service provider
Chapter 13: Professional firm
Chapter 14: Advocacy organization
Chapter 15: Event reservations
Chapter 16: Local business
Chapter 17: Internet service

Appendix A: Makeover checklist
Appendix B: Recommended books and web resources

About the author: A freelance writer since 1981 and marketing consultant since 1991, Marcia Yudkin is the author of 11 books, including Six Steps to Free Publicity (Plume/Penguin) and Internet Marketing for Less than $500/Year (Maximum Press). Her articles have appeared in hundreds of magazines and at scores of websites, from the New York Times Magazine and Psychology Today to Business 2.0 and Publish. Marcia Yudkin’s clients range from therapists and attorneys to sales executives and Internet entrepreneurs. She publishes a free weekly newsletter, The Marketing Minute. For more information, see

Although some of the detailed how-to information in this book is a bit out of date, the principles are still valid and important. You can order the book from resellers at or Amazon UK.

Last updated 1 October 2007.