In the age of digital communication, your website is the first impression that you give your prospective clients and existing customers. Think of it this way: Would you wear sweatpants to sales presentation? Probably not. You should take the same care and pride in designing your website, as a poor first impression could mean the difference between a lucrative contract and a big disappointment. Here are five things your website design and development needs, whether it is personal or professional.
1. User-friendly Navigation
Poor navigation can be a turn-off for visitors. Chances are potential clients are browsing multiple websites at the same time, looking for key information quickly. Even if you are offering a Denver web design service that is superior to your competitors’ service, it won’t matter a bit unless you provide simple navigation with clearly worded information.
To determine whether your navigation is user-friendly, ask yourself this: Would I be able to access all pertinent information in less than five minutes? It should take no longer than that for clients to have their key questions answered by your website, and here are easy-access links that are necessary for just about any business:
Home Page: This may seem obvious, but your homepage should be more than just a logo or gimmicky catchphrase. Certainly, there should be well-branded graphics, photos and text that represent the image and voice of your company, but there should also be a short one or two paragraph statement about what services you offer and how you are different from the competition. Never voice any negativity about competitors. Instead, emphasize the positives you deliver by building up your esteem and mentioning the general area you service, such as saying “promising solutions for web design in Denver,” for example.
About: This is similar to the homepage, and the amount of information on each can only be determined by the size, age and capabilities of your business. Even if this is a new business venture, include what information you can. Your About page should go into more depth “about” what your company does, including a summary of its history. If you are a new company, skip the history of your business and highlight the founders and managers involved, including their accomplishments and backgrounds. If you are a large entity, say, a medical practice, then you can include necessary biographies in a subsection of the About section. Company goals are also a pleasant way of endearing yourself to your visitors. “Striving To Deliver The Best In Denver Web Design” sounds friendlier than “We Are the Best in Denver Website Design.”
Services/More Info/Rates: This section is dependent upon what you are selling or promoting. Spas and salons, for example, should include prices of the services offered because they are likely not negotiable. If you are a creative professional, then it is not always necessary to place firm prices online if you work on a client-by-client basis. If you are a culinary business, then this is where you would have the Menu section.
Hours of Operation: When can people reach you? If you are a freelancer working primarily from home, setting boundaries for your working hours makes you seem sought after, and, therefore, more professional.
Contact Page: Finally, the Contact section is one of the most critical aspects of your website and should be as concise as possible. Make information bold when needed and include at least two ways that clients can reach you. Phone and email are best, but contact forms are also okay if you don’t want direct solicitations. Including your physical address is only necessary if you primarily offer in-house services or require snail mail communication.
2. Pleasing Design
Now that you have your information tailored to your audience and offer concise details in an industry-appropriate voice, it’s time to look at the design of your website. Many companies offer free or inexpensive website hosting and DIY design that makes it easy to get your page up and running in just hours. If you have a larger amount of information to present, you may want to look into hiring a professional designer. The rates of designers vary greatly, but don’t be afraid to invest in this part of your site, as you always get what you pay for.
Some things your website should have design wise are readable fonts, neutral colors, images and color schemes that complement the attitude of your business and potential clients. Limit the fancy tricks. You’ll notice that Flash is not as hip as it used to be, as it takes away from the immediacy of information gathering.
Some things your website should NOT have are trendy fonts (these are often unreadable and may not load correctly in certain browsers), abrasive colors (“use your words,” as you tell an angry toddler, not neon yellow or pink) and excessive ads (ads don’t have a strong place on websites that are trying to promote their own business).
This is often the first place people look when browsing websites, as images are easier to absorb than lengthy text. It is not as critical as the fundamental navigations mentioned above, since it will not apply to every business. But if you are an artist, photographer or other creative professional with a visual portfolio, then present a select amount of your work that illustrates the diversity of your capabilities. Just telling your audience that you offer exceptional Denver web design won’t work; you have to prove it with visuals. If you are a hospitality business, this is where you would place appealing (and always professional) photos of your location. If images aren’t relevant to what you do, you can replace this section to include a list of clients you’ve worked with, books you’ve authored or even charities you support.
4. Language Options
This only applies to internationally visible businesses, but if you are expanding or promoting your products to other countries, consider creating one or two other language options. Many companies have small images of national flags near the top right-hand corner of their websites that are visible on all of the web pages, allowing visitors to switch between English, Spanish, German, Chinese and so forth.
5. Social Media
As social media gains popularity and necessity seemingly by the minute, your business will benefit from an online presence aside from your website. The most attractive way to link to social media accounts from your site is by adding stationary logos near the bottom of your page, so that visitors can click on them at any point while browsing your site. Facebook is the most popular way of promoting business on social media, and just about every industry is benefitting from increased visibility.
Twitter is good for companies with a consistent flow of new information, especially those that interact directly with clients. Instagram should be reserved for visually active industries. Posting the goings on of your business in a “behind the scenes” manor can be a good way to form intimacy with your audience, but is more appropriate for, say, a fashion designer or literary journal than a law firm. Your links should open in a new window, so that visitors aren’t taken away from your page completely.