As websites are now the "front end" of most businesses, what exactly does your image and website project to your clientele? Assess your site, does it portray a trustworthy company that customers are happy to invest their money in or is it screaming out that you're a dodgy tight-arse, who is not user friendly. Sound harsh?
Too often, potential clients come to me wanting a website and the first thing they say... I really need a website, I don't have anything up at the moment, I need it up yesterday, I don't want to spend a lot of money, but I need something that is really slick, then once it makes me money, I will spend more and get a bigger and better site. Can you help me?
At this point, I want to run a mile, or is that 1.06 kilometres in the metric world!
If you can't see the value in having a website that is well designed and constructed then why should others see the value in your product and why should they spend their money with your business?
Having said this, you do not need the advertising budget of Coca-Cola to get a really well designed and competitive website, that targets your audience. It just needs to be planned and well thought out.
Think of the websites you've come across, that accept on-line orders.
- Were you confident in handing over your credit card details or were you unsure?
- Was there sufficient contact information or an FAQ section to answer questions?
- Have you heard of the company or website before?
- How did you find this website?
- Was it easy to navigate?
- Could you find their products?
- Was the site secure? Could you tell if it was secure?
- Did the design reflect the product or service you're providing?
The list of questions could go on...
Just as you have assessed a site, consumers are doing it every day when they visit yours. So what exactly are you projecting and what type of clientele are you attracting?
Consumers these days are time poor, but computer savvy. So before anyone hops in their car to see if your particular business has what they want, more likely than not, they'll hop on the net to research your business, products, who your competitors are, in case you don't have what they want. In doing so, you could potentially lose sales to someone, who is not too far from you because they can provide them with the information they need. They might even pay more just because they look more reputable. Nobody likes to get ripped off.
Here are some questions and you should consider, when implementing a website:
Does your site reflect my current branding /corporate ID?
Make sure your logo, corporate style, fonts, and colouring are reflected in your website. It is important to remain consistent so your clients can identify you and your products.
What is the purpose of your website?
Have a clear plan of what the structure of your site should be. Create a stylised site plan, which you can take to a web designer to give them direction. The more information you have about the direction of your site, the better advice a designer can provide. Look at other websites and see which features you like and add them to your wish list.
Who is your target audience?
Establish who you're targeting and make sure the design and your branding reflects your audience. If you're a mechanic, there is no point in using Cursive fonts, love hearts and tacky graphics, just because you think it looks great. At the same time, try not to be cliched.
Do I need forms on my site?
Make it easier for clients to contact you. Create forms that enable you to collect information from end-users in order to assist them in their enquiry.
How do you choose a web designer?
If you don't have a company or designer in mind, of course search the internet, ask friends, colleagues if they can recommend anyone. Design is subjective, so if a designer is recommended, always visit their website and check out their folio.
Not all designers are the same and not all designers have the same style. If you like their work, then make an appointment to see them. If you get along, then it's a good sign. If you don't get a good feeling or the designer doesn't appear to be confident about what you require, then choose another designer. I believe having a good rapport with your designer is paramount, it makes the process enjoyable rather than a chore and your designer will be able to interpret what you after.
Try to avoid choosing a "friend of a friend" or someone who just bought a copy of Dreamweaver and thinks they're an expert. Everyone thinks they can do a designers job, but remember I can't do yours, so that's why I get someone else to do the other stuff. Besides what will take you weeks to do, would easily take a web designer a lot less time, function a lot easier and look a lot more professional, which of course is what you want to ultimately achieve.