Among today’s cadre of new media enthusiasts, many small business owners possess the technical savvy to create a basic website. Digital entrepreneurs in particular, often start out as bloggers, and can comfortably maneuver around in Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress.
Though basic web design is a good tool to have in your kit, it’s important to note that ability and skill don’t hold the same weight. An entrepreneur’s familiarity with WordPress, for example, and their ability to create a website on that particular CMS doesn’t mean s/he has the knowledge and skills necessary to make an effective website. The point here is that having a website doesn’t automatically mean you’ve created an effective space through which online shoppers can buy what you sell.
As of December 2012, there are an estimated 634 million live websites, which means one website can easily get lost in the crowd, particularly if you’re making some of the most commonly made web design mistakes. Want to stand out and increase your changes of having an effective website? Here are some insights from Creative Brander, Kris Richards, based on his 12 years of experience in branding and design.
Never pick style over function
It is a mistake to focus on the desired look of the site, without prioritizing the simplicity of the end-user’s ability to access information on the various pages. If you do, you run the risk of having a beautiful site that seldom converts onlookers into customers. To avoid this no-no:
- write out a summary of what you need the site to do.
- then research websites that fit your idea of easy-to-maneuver.
- after you’ve done some research, turn your summary into an outline of what each page on the site does, and how the overall site experience. should flow; use that as your game plan for layout and functionality.
- after that’s in place, you can start integrating aesthetic preferences, including font styles, image types, and colors.
Never use low-resolution images
It is unprofessional, not to mention displeasing on the eye, to see a small, low-resolution image blown up to fit into a larger space. The image will be blurry, and the intended point of the image will almost certainly be overshadowed by the low quality. Sites such as iStockPhoto.com and Fotolia.com offer high-resolution images. Flickr’s creative commons section can also be a good resource for quality image choices.
Never Be a font hopper
Your entire website should contain no more than three font varieties. Choose fonts that are easy to read, and be consistent with the font styles you choose. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking more like a hobby site with inconsistent messaging, and less like a professional business person.
You can certainly include personality, but focus on your target market, and let that determine what and how you communicate from your site, including the fonts you choose. As for font colors, consider using color palates to determine which colors you use, instead of focusing on how that one word (or sentence) looks in a particular color.
Also remember to use bold font sparingly. If many words and/or sentences are in bold font, your reader won’t know what you want them to pay attention to, and may lose interest altogether. Avoid those three faux pas and you’re en route to a good starter website, until your budget allows for the all-important professional, customized website.
About the author: Akilah S. Richards co-founded The Life Design Agency to help entrepreneurs discover, design and express their unique products and services. Akilah works primarily with women on the emotional and spiritual life components, while her husband, co-founder and Creative Brander, Kris Richards, offers branding packages to helps businesses express their brand’s message, with clarity, confidence, and continuity.
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