This is another useful post in my series of articles hoping to raise the standards of bid for position directories. I have been wanting to post this for while for two reasons. Firstly i haven’t made a blog post in a while, and secondly there has been many questions raised over bidding directory templates recently. There are few bidding directory templates around at the moment, and I have yet to see any designs I like other than a few.
Where can you get templates?
The easy option is to use one of the default designs. If your directory uses phplinkbid, there around around 5 templates that come free with it. These themes are pretty blank, used by many people, and will not get your directory many sales if you are using them. It shows customers that you haven’t spent a lot of time finding a better theme, and don’t care much about how your directory looks to potential submitters.
The next option is to use a free publicly released bidding directory theme. These are usually free, providing you keep the linkback to the designer and sponsor in the footer. These free themes are a great way to give your directory a good and fresh look. The only disadvantage to these themes are two things. The themes are free. this shows visitors you are not prepared to spend any money on your directory to make it unique, therefore why should they submit? Also, free themes get used a lot over the internet, so again, if someone has seen this theme around somehwere before, they are likely to realise that you have not bothered to invest in your directory. These templates are usually released on forums. I am in the process of releasing several phpLB templates each week, see my phplb themes section of the site for more info.
The final option is to get your directory a custom theme. This involves going to a design company, giving them details of your request, and you will have a template custom made for your bidding directory. This is perfect for serious directory owners. It shows you care about your directory, want it to look good, and are willing to invest in it. The only disadvantage to this option, if any, is the cost. A custom design won’t come cheaply. For example, I paid RealWd $300 for the custom theme for zorg links, its the average price for a theme of this quality. Searching webmaster forums like Digital Point, you can expect to find designers who are willing to charge anything over $100 for the design. Its best to make a thread and wait for offers.
Things to consider when choosing/ordering your template.
The color scheme. This is vital. Get it wrong and it could be your downfall. Why? Do you think large companies are going to invest in a directory whose color scheme involves yellow text on a black background? Pink even? There are of course exceptions, IndexQueen has a very nice pink template! Most directories involve a mix of around 2-3 nice colors. It usually involves a light background with darker features and text. An example of this is DirectoryDump. It uses a light background with orange and blue as its main colors. Another professional looking directory design using this three color rule is Alive Directory. Alive uses blue to contrast with white, and then a good combination of orange and blue text on the white background to give a professional and warming effect. If you prefer to have a dark background, the perfect example of this in use is AvivaDirectory. It uses a dark background, with lighter colors like green and orange. Always remember important web design rules when choosing colors for your template. Always choose something that looks professional. The more “wow” factor it has, the better.
The page structure. This is also the most important part. Not only does it make navigating, reading and using your site easier, it effects revenue. A bidding directory aims to deliver traffic, more notably to those sites listed on the home page with the top bids. Now think, why would someone bid high on your bidding directory? They do it mostly for the traffic. Therefore the template you choose should allow top ranked sites to get the best CTR (click through rate). This can be done easily. Just look at Zorg Links for example, the top ranked sites are shown above the fold (they can be seen without scrolling). This was an intended design feature. I wanted to show categories at the side for easier reading, and to give the sites on the homepage the maximum clicks. If your users have to scroll half way down the home page to be able to see the top bidding sites, you may want to think about a re-design to give them a better CTR.
Other things to consider is how you will display the listed sites. They need to be spaced out well, and iam to give the user as much information as possible. An example of a bidding directory I like that does this well is Ventedoy. It shows the sites nicely, they are easy to read and well spaced out. This is perfect for an end user looking for quality sites to visit.
Always remember these key things when choosing your template. Whats best for the users? Whats best for the submitted sites? Keep it professional, and don’t forget a good looking template can go a long way when wanting to boost sales.
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