Designing a website is a big deal. It is often the first point of contact for your customers, and as you know, first impressions matter. While a little bit of creative flair is going to get you noticed, there are a few important rules to remember. Now, there are a plethora of powerful tools and platforms that you can access to help with your online needs, but don’t get distracted and neglect the essentials.
1. Consider Your Logo
Sure, you can pay $5 to have a generic logo created, but another company can have the same style with a minor change of color. Does this show you brand’s uniqueness? Are you a different “font type” kind of business, or are you a “custom logo” kind of business? What does your logo say about your brand? Is it recognizable to potential customers?
The logo is the first step to creating your identity. When it comes to designing a website you need to consider how your logo will shape the rest of your design. It should be a visual representation of your product or service.
Consider some of the most popular brands and how they have created a consistent, memorable theme starting with a logo. There is Coca-Cola with their signature red and white, Cadbury who own the color purple, and Nike with their trademark swoosh. Each of these are versatile and remain consistent throughout all of their marketing efforts.
2. Quality Content Will Keep Them Coming Back
Yes, it is King. That old saying is still relevant. When your content is duplicate or full of errors, it loses its royal power. Your content needs to be fresh, and you need lots of it. Write for SEO, but more importantly, write for your customers.
Invest in quality content and create a unique voice. Make your message loud and clear. Say “NO” to weird font types and colors even if you think they are “prettier”. Instead choose font types and colors that are easy to read.
Try San Serif fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana. A bright blue t-shirt might bring out your eyes, but when it comes to font on a computer screen, it’s only going to hurt them. Instead, opt for blacks or greys. Spell check your work and avoid any terms which may be too technical for your audience.
3. Images Need to Be Chosen Carefully
When designing a website, images can create visual interest. One of the worst mistakes a business can make is stretching an image to the point of distortion. Your potential customers will be reaching for their glasses to see if their focus is off. Take the time to resize your images properly before uploading them.
Larger image files will have longer loading times and take up valuable bandwidth, it is best to get them right the first time.
Selling something? Make sure your product images look appealing to potential shoppers. Crisp white backgrounds will make your items pop and give your website a clean, uncluttered finish.
If you can’t afford a professional photographer, search the internet for a selection of paid images available at varying rates. You can also find some free images online, just remember these are not going to be exclusive to your website.
4. Be Conscious of Security
You may have experienced Google giving you a warning when clicking a link through the popular search engine. People will leave faster than if they were running away from a date who says “I love you” on the first night.
You don’t necessarily need the full digital SSL red carpet laid out unless you have an e-commerce store. In that case, a padlock with up to date encryption is a must! Choose a web hosting company who is trustworthy and keeps their system up to date.
When designing a website, consider your payment methods. Payment methods should have security, Paypal is one popular option. It has shopper protection which makes people feel safe. If you are collecting and storing data consider how it is being stored. Are your customers details secure?
5. SEO is Here to Stay
The words “search engine optimization” might sound like “blah blah blah” and leave you yawning. But, we love it. Weird, right? If you want people to be able to find you in the competitive world of search engines, SEO is your secret weapon.
Create a good reputation and sell yourself as an expert. People will want to link to you, and they will want to comment and share.
When you are designing a website, check your keywords but don’t make them the only priority.
6. Social Media Should Complement Your Efforts
While it shouldn’t be the sole focus of your promotional efforts, social media should be an extension of your website.
Customers like to have more than one way to connect with their favorite brands. Not becapuse they are stalkers, but because they see themselves as proficient researchers. How many stars has the local builder, Bob, had from previous clients? They won’t be looking at your website for this information, but to Facebook. How popular is the new Mazda? They might turn to YouTube for more information from those who have already purchased the car.
Anywhere you are active, you should link directly from your website. When you are on social media do it well, don’t be sloppy. For example, did you know that on Instagram, the secret number of hashtags for maximum exposure is 11? You don’t have to have your eggs in every basket, try using just one or two platforms.
Remember, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all have different audiences and purposes.
7. Monitor Your Website Speed
Unfortunately, not everyone has lightning fast internet (yet) and a website which loads at a snail’s pace might turn your visitors away.
If there are slow loading times your visitors may feel frustrated and leave. Waiting minutes for the checkout to load, (or worse watching it time out) could mean you are saying goodbye to potential sales.
Did you know, fast website speeds also help to increase your search engine ranking? It could also place an impact on how many page views you receive.
8. The Layout Needs to Make Sense
Imagine you visit a friend and you are looking for the toilet. You check near the bathroom but it’s not there, and you finally find it in the kitchen. This is not what people expect, and when designing a website, your layout should consider basic functionality expectations.
Sidebars used to be commonly on the left-hand side, but they have since migrated to the top. Always keep it clean and simple and include a search bar.
Your “CONTACT US” page should always be at the top or bottom. Consider how you would browse a website and where your eyes would look. Anything you want seen should be placed above the fold.
9. Make Your Mobile Version User-Friendly
The trend towards the desktop is quickly declining so it is essential you take this into consideration when designing a website.
10. Email Marketing is a Direct Link To Your Customers
Email marketing is often neglected, but it’s certainly not dead. You can’t solely rely on social media as a way to alert your customers.
Instead of mass campaigns to your entire list, you should consider more targeted emails. Divide your list into segments and create separate campaigns.
Create signup forms on your website and encourage more subscribers with a value add. Make your newsletters stand out and be something they want to open.
For help with building or updating your website, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.