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Website design - where do I start?

Website design

Even if you've never used a computer before, you can start preparing your website design criteria.  We can give you ideas of what might be useful to include, and can suggest other sites that you can review to see what style you like.  Of course, if you already have something in mind, that's fine.

To begin your website design, you don't need to get into the detail of the written content, but should think about styles and color combinations you like.

Here are a few pointers to get you thinking:

  • Do you have a particular look in mind?  For example, a crisp, professional look, or something more easy-going?  A hi-tech site or a more homely look?
  • Do you have any preference for colors?  We can suggest a suitable palette for you, or you can give us some ideas.  For example, you might like earth tones, or pastel shades or bright, sunny colors.
  • Do you want your pages to center in the browser window?  Or would you prefer them to remain on the left-hand side?  Either way can look good, it's mainly a question of personal preference.
  • Do you want the pages to remain the same size regardless of the visitor's monitor size?  We prefer this option as it gives better control over the design elements, but some people like the page to resize to fill the visitor's browser screen.
  • Do you want a static menu or one that is dynamic. i.e. it changes as people scroll over it?  (We can show you examples of both.)

Once the basic design and navigation structure is planned, it's time to think about content.  It is important that the website is focused on the visitor and what you can do for them, rather than just being about you and your business.  And the more relevant and unique the content is, the better your site will rank in the search engines.

  • Who is your target audience and what problem can you help them to solve. 
  • What do you want them to do?  Place an order, make an inquiry, leave their email address, sign up for a newsletter?
  • What type of information do you want to provide?  Articles, newsletter, electronic brochure, or just the basic web pages?
  • Do you have any content that is already written? 
  • Do you have a logo that you would like to incorporate, or photographs or illustrations we can use?  If not, we can suggest low-cost sources to purchase something suitable.  Or we may have something in our own portfolio that you can use.

Guidelines for your content

The content on your website will fall into two main types: The general and the specific.  For the visitor who is wondering if your site matches what he is looking for, you need content that is brief and to the point; well-laid out with bullet points and plenty of white space around it.  This is the best way to attract attention and allows people to quickly scan your pages to see if they are relevant.

For those people who are definitely interested in what you have to offer, the pages can be more "wordy", as long as they are communicating useful information.  The best option is usually a compromise - attractive pages with the main points, and the ability to subscribe for further information to be sent.  This has the benefit of allowing you to collect names and email addresses so that you can keep in touch.

The quality of the content on your website will also influence your ranking in the search engines more than any other factor.

Attracting visitors

Of course, the best designed site in the world is useless if no one visits it.  It's like the old philosophical question: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"  Visitors are the lifeblood of a website, and attracting them to it, is the first step to making the site a profit center instead of an expense.  There are many ways to drive traffic to a site, most of them requiring some form of writing - articles, blogs and web pages being three examples.  While some website owners will do this themselves, it is much better to have a search engine marketer doing it.  Not only will they make sure it is done consistently, but they also know how to write copy that will attract attention from would-be visitors and search engines.

Making the most of your visitors

Attracting visitors to your site has costs involved.  They may be the cost of your own time, or could be the costs of contracting with a search engine marketer.  Either way, you need to make the most of your investment.  The best way to do this is to make sure that you capture the name and email address of as many of your visitors as you can.  This is usually achieved by making an offer, such as a free report, or discount coupon, in return for contact details.  Once you have the email address, and have delivered the information requested, you can set up a series of emails to be sent automatically, at pre-determined intervals, to maintain contact and build a relationship.

Without such a device on your website, you are wasting most of the money and effort that was put into building it in the first place. 

For more information, or to discuss your own website design (with no cost or obligation) please contact us.

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