Welcome back to our series on Planning and Implementation of your website.
Today I am going to discuss the importance of Design and Development of your website, and why this aspect is so important to you.
So many people go into the idea of having a website short sighted, they do not completely understand what it takes to create a proper, useful streamlined easy to use website. When you are not completely prepared you will find that creating a website can be a nightmare even if you use a professional. Some find Professionals to be very hard to work with, but that is really not true, they just know the process and require a lot in the beginning to get going. So let’s start at the beginning.
You have completed the task of acquiring your domain and a hosting service, or you at least have that part in mind and are prepared to do so. You have obviously decided you want a website, now you need to think how you want to use that website. Are you looking to Market and Sell Products, Want a Gallery for Your Art, Want a Blog to offer information to others or maybe offer services. A website is very versatile as I am no doubt you have discovered surfing the web already. I am going to use most of these as examples in this part of our series to explain the forethought that must go in to your design. You need to know what your content will be to effectively come up with a useable design that is easy for your viewers to navigate. You will want to open your word processor and begin to detail this information.
A Good Note to keep in mind; You have only one chance to catch your potential viewers attention and that is your homepage, it should be clear and concise who you are, what your page is about and be aesthetically appealing. No one will stay on your site for more than a minute if they do not immediately find what interest them.
Home Page – This is the main page your viewers will land on when going to your domain, from here all pages must have access.
- Contacts Page – A page where your viewers can contact you via a form.
- About Page – You want a page to explain what you or your company is all about.
- Focus Page – This can be your Product Page, Service Page, Video or Photo Gallery, the main focus of what your site is about.
- Feedback Page – It is always nice to offer a feedback page for your customers to rave or rage about your site and service.
- Navigation Map – A page specifically designed to show all the links in an open format for people to look your page over, and for search engines to easily crawl your site.
These are the most basic of things you will need, from here you will have to decide how to add navigation under each of those basic items to categorize the information. Such as your products, if you offer a variety of products then you will want the Products Navigation Menu to open up and show those categories so the viewer does not need to go to that page to find what they want first. Allow them to see what they want when the hover over that Nav link or button.
On your contacts page it is always more convenient to use a form, for your viewers to have a quick easy way to email you. If you place your email there, then
- They have to click it and open their personal email program to send you a message, so many use Yahoo, gmail and others as their email services and links such as this make it harder on the viewer and most will just not email you.
- It invites farmers to collect your email address, making it easier for spammers to trash your business mail with junk you have to sort through daily for the important things.
- It keeps your user environment friendly and to the point, allowing the page after the form has been sent to return your viewer to the page they were previously on.
Next you want to write up the basic text you would like on your site, specific to each page. This does not have to be a final draft yet, just a good idea of the point you want to get across. Remember that it should be clear and concise and to the point. People want to read quickly about you and your site without having to scroll down a mile to get that point. Use your sites product, demographics and detail in a very specific way. This will help you later when it comes to Search Engine Optimization so people will actually find your site, among the millions that are out there.
Think of your site as a Commercial on Television, You have 30 seconds to grab their attention and sell your viewers on why YOUR SITE is the best to use among all the others. As I always say to my clients; “You can build a well known department store that people know and love, but if it is in a desert miles from civilization no one will know it is there unless you make it known and can give people a reason to want to travel to it.” Your website is just one of billions, specific to your product or services still only shrinks that number to millions maybe hundreds of thousands. Be sure you find that niche, or that special reason to shrink that number to thousands or less. Be creative in your ideas, look around you and see what it is you would look for if searching for a product or service. This should all come out in your text, the search engines use that text among other things to single out your site in the search listings. Take time to search out your product or service, look at the top listed sites in those search profiles, find out what makes the number 1 and 2 so appealing. You can bet if they are 1 or 2 they have the visitors to back it up, among the details that draws people in.
Next is the Visual Aspect of your site, colors are very important to the appeal of your site. You may have colors you love and prefer and thats fine, but do not let those colors influence the most basic of web design. The color of your site is what makes it stand out, just remember Text is most easily read when it is Black Text on a White background. Use the colors of your site as details and logos, buttons and borders. Leave the text areas so that anyone can read them easily. Colored background sites makes your text hard to read and inevitably the fastest way to see your viewers move on to another site. Use appealing colors, and blends, like pastels and soft colors, blend them with ideal matches. Purple and Green are not a great combination if you do not have a blend that makes them fit. Harsh Fire engine reds and bright oranges are not appealing colors, in fact use the color rules. Red is stop or angry and so on. There are many sites that can give you color schemes that make sense, a good way to find colors that are appealing is go to a local paint store and look at their color charts. Sounds crazy but it really is a visual that you will see and immediately understand after reading this.
Font is so very important, use clear, easy to read fonts; Times New Roman is always a great choice for your text, it is why every book, eBook, newspaper and magazine you find is written in that font or fonts very similar. It is the most ledge-able and easily read, even at a distance; it is easy on the eyes whether you have perfect or corrected vision. Make your sure your font size is large enough for all viewers to read.
Branding, Graphics and Images.
If you do not have a logo, find a Professional Graphics Designer and work with them to create your logo, this will become your permanent Brand. Your brand is very important to your site and your product or services. As with everything you have seen throughout your life on television and in Commercial advertising, when you see the golden arches on the horizon driving down the road, you do not even need to see the written text below; You know it is McDonalds, a red can with white writing in that familiar font is obviously Coca-Cola. You want your brand to become just as easily recognizable by your clientele or viewers. You can be thrifty in your hosting, domain name even your design budget; however if you do not have a good brand that people can recognize easily, then you have already started down a long road to no where. Take the time to come up with an idea and present it to a Designer, allow that designer to create you a logo based on their experience and knowledge of what will make you the most visible and appealing. Do not go in with a closed mind about your logo, Professionals know what it takes to make your brand stand out among the rest and with the freedom to design, I am sure you will find your idea will come to life.
Your products, I will always recommend that you seek out a professional photographer to offer your product the very best chance to shine and look it’s very best. However if you are on a budget and want to do it yourself, then use the most simple setup, White background, proper lighting and a good digital camera. Using your mobile phone and placing them on a table with poor lighting and using low resolution image quality will make your product look bad, this will cost you customers. Ask yourself this question, “Would I buy that product if I can’t even tell how it really looks?” I am betting your answer will be no. It is always important to give your product and services the best chance you can by giving them the proper detail both in photo and description. Always keep in mind, people are finicky and will nit pick every aspect of you and your product before deciding if they want to work with or buy your product. Give it the very best chance, be a perfectionist here and make others see the pride you take in your products and services.
In the world of websites, there are billions of potential clients and viewer, you are one of them. Use what you find wrong about others to influence what not to do on your own.
- Take time to surf the web in search of sites similar to yours.
- Find sites that appeal to you and save the links to go back to and use as reference to your own designs.
- Be Unique, Never imitate others websites.
- List what you dislike about other sites and keep that list as a reference of what not to do.
- Research, Research, Research; know your competition
- Seek advice from professionals or use professional services.
- Do not let your favorites thing completely influence your site, you are appealing to the likes of others.
- Let your design, products, services and detail of content speak for you, your viewers don’t get to talk to you, they get to see you in your site.
- Be clear and concise and to the point in the least amount of text needed.
Creating a website is a work of art, let your DaVinci surface, have fun with it, never be discouraged there are many who can offer advice or criticism to help you along. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or strangers what they think. Let them leave feedback and build from it, even deconstructive feedback has some potential good information if you read between the lines.
I hope you have enjoyed what you have learned here and will use it to help you build an online presence others will love and respect.
In part 3 of our series we will tell you how to go about finishing your site and getting out to the world to see.