Tips: Building A Better Website

Building a website? Consider these quick tips:

When developing your website remember the immortal words of Ron Burgundy: "Stay classy".

So you have decided to get a website. Congratulations! It is a big, bold, brave and entirely rational step for your business. Whether you intend to do it yourself (don’t) or hire someone there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Stay Classy San Diego!

I ripped that line off of Anchorman for a reason (thank you Will Ferrell). Your website needs to have class. It should not look like the Myspace page of a 14 year old girl or the Microsoft Live page of a 60 year old shut-in with a cat addiction.

Good Kern, clear lines, clear image resolution, proper font and type and proper margins are non-negotiable. Your website is the digital storefront for your business. Unless I am looking to purchase a cat I will not want to see kitties as your webpage wallpaper (and even then I still don’t).

The same goes for your banner, logo and colour scheme. It should all keep with your branding image. Don’t choose Chartreuse Green for your business cards and then Fuscia for your webpage. Don’t use one logo for your cards and something entirely different for your webpage. Be consistent with your brand.

Get a critique, see what people think and work off their feedback. Check out other sites that appeal to you and see what they did. Learn, emulate and improve. Your webpage will be associated with you and your brand, how people perceive you is key – keep that in mind when making all design and content related decisions.

2. Image Theft Makes Me Cry.

Building a website? Great idea! Before you start take a look around. Find out what others are doing and appeals to you. Like any construction - you should know what you want it to look like ahead of time.

There are so many sites that offer free photos that there is no excuse for posting a watermarked photo on your site. It is unappealing and what is worse, it is not very professional.

Use the free images that are available or purchase the image for 99 cents. Source a photographer or Graphic designer – you can even shoot your own shots. This can be more work in the short term, but pay off in the long run. Images with watermarks are tacky and show a lack of initiative (IE laziness), what is more watermarks are the telltale sign of copyrighted material and using copyrighted material without permission is theft.

Most customers do not want to do business with a thief. Yes bold words, but it is the truth.

3. Blasted GIF!

Those flashing, moving, repetitive advertisements on the sidebar hurt my brain. They can also hurt your image – when I see those, alarms go off in my head. Unless you are in the advertising business the legitimacy of your business is at stake. Those banner ads may be a big risk and can be distracting from your website. Many potential customers will turn back as soon as they come into contact with them. They are the digital equivalent to the used car salesman in the checkered jacket screaming  “have I got a deal for you!”

Aesthetically they are unappealing and what is more, they can actually be so abrasive to the eyes that viewers will leave with headaches and tears. Not an association you want with your business.

4. Don’t Have Music On Your Website.

This one is simple, don’t have audio automatically play on your website. If I am online and want sound, I know where to get it and would like to control what it is, besides chances are your musical taste and mine is going to differ. Another thing to consider is this:

The single largest day for online sales (Cyber Monday) is the Monday following American Thanksgiving. On this day many of us are happily working at our desks right? Sort of, many Cyber Monday sales are the result of online shopping – while at work. Now imagine this: you just need to put your order in for that cute Abercrombie top, it will only take a few quick minutes – WAIT WHAT IS THIS MUSIC, WHY IS IT SO LOUD! All of a sudden you are centre stage in the office with a curious boss and some smirking co-workers.

Better safe than sorry, leave the music off of your site.

5. Unsolicited Video.

Don’t worry if I want to view your video I will. Having video on your website isn’t a bad thing, but I do not need, nor want it to load up and play as soon as I enter the main page. For one I do not want it interrupting the audio likely already have going, second we have that whole “audio issue” from Tip 4.

Not only that it bogs the load times and makes navigation a chore. I would rather not waste my precious 12 seconds waiting to click on the “product information” tab. This brings me to the next tip.

6. Yo’ Site Is So Bad… Lewis & Clarke Couldn’t Find Their Way Around It!

Your website needs to be navigation friendly. Make sure it flows properly.

Lewis & Clarke, you know discoverers of the North West Passage and inventors of the taco? Fine… whatever, the point is that navigation is absolutely crucial to your site. I want to be able to find what I am looking for right away. Customers need to be able to logically determine where they need to go to contact you, purchase your products or simply find out more.

Your website should be user-friendly. When you are setting up your webpage you should have a proper flowchart  that defines what pages lead to where, how they flow back and what links they host. It is not that complicated,  but it is essential  to ensure that your website is viewer friendly.

7. Advertisements

If you are going to advertise on your website, make them different from those blasted gifs we mentioned. Don’t clutter your page with ad’s and analytics. It is highly unprofessional for your main business website to play host to ads for Viagra, Insurance or Burke Hedges latest best seller (just kidding Burke).

Your webpage presentation is a significant part of your brand image. It is going to be directly associated with you, your products and your services. This relates back to all of the above tips. You need to be focused and considerate of how you are being portrayed. The more clutter you have the worse. Keep your webpage directed at explaining your company to your viewers. Keeping it simple also helps with the Navigation we discussed in #6

8. Oh You Use Twitter? …and Facebook? And Tumblr, Stumbleupon, Delicious, Digg, Pinterest etc. etc.

That’s cool. However don’t overdo it. Sites that plague their viewers with social media buttons at every turn are trying too hard. Position the buttons in a practical location that is easy to find, if and when I feel the need to share your page, I will find them. Again clutter is the enemy of good website design.

Websites are integral to business. Regardless of your industry a website is a must. It needs to be designed, updated and maintained with care and consistency to you brands message. What will your website tell your visitors? How will it convey this message? What will it look like?

A good designer can help you through the process, they can help you understand the impact of your decisions and will work with you to establish a website that is functional, clean and appealing to your potential customers.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing Services – Contact us for a free consultation.


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