Some left shoes are in isle 5, while the right shoes are in isle 3. Shoe hills are in random places. You can barely walk through the store without stumbling over a shoe.
No employees are in sight. As you are desperate for help, you finally make it past the heaping hill of shoes to the back of the store and find a button that says "Page for Help". You press the button and out comes a card that says "please leave your mailing address, we'll send you a letter".
Frustrated, you leave the store, and finally realize there is a Footlocker across the street.
We all know how first impressions can make or break a potential customer's decision to buy. With more and more people discovering the internet, most businesses do not realize that their company website is the customer's first impression.
A Reflection of How You Do Business
Your website should be a reflection of your business. Would you allow your customers to walk through a maze to get your contact information? Do you want to answer your customer's questions or leave them guessing? Do you want them to find your product information? Your website will reflect these answers back to your customer.
What Web Design Isn't
Web Design is not:
? All the Bells and Whistles
? A Tease
? A Get Rich Quick Scheme
All The Bells and Whistles
Would you buy a luxury car that got you ten miles and then died? Then why would you want your website to be the best but unfunctional? Sometimes we forget that having the best of the best of something means to sacrifice something else.
For instance, have you ever seen a website made entirely in Macromedia Flash? ( Click here for more info about flash ) There is nothing wrong with a nicely animated website, however, this will shut out potential customers who do not have, nor wish to install the flash player plug-in.
This restricts certain users who have certain plugins installed on their computers, and you don't want to ever shut out potential customers. If you wish to do that, make sure you have a good purpose and make sure you clearly state on your website what those requirements are.
It's better to have too much information than too little. Don't expect a potential customer to want to wade through pages to contact you for more information.
If you sell pink shoe laces and neglect to put that information on your website, your potential customer may end up going somewhere else to look for pink show laces. It's too easy to just 'go somewhere else', or 'do another search engine query'.
A Get Rich Quick Scheme
Why Nancy, only fools rush in.
A common misconception I have seen is that business owners believe their website will attract millions of visitors within the first week of creating their website. Without the funds, research and dedicated time, this is simply not true.
The instant you upload your website, it is lost in the millions and billions of virtual pages across the internet. You have to market your website just like you market your business; tell people.
You will not get the keyword you want from search engines, you will not receive millions of visitors, and you will not sell all your products within the first week.
However, if you take the time to do your research, study internet marketing, spread your website via word of mouth, and design careful search engine placement; you CAN get the keyword you want, you CAN receive millions of visitors and you CAN sell all your products.
What Web Design Is
Web Design is:
? A Sales Tool
? A Cost Efficient Expansion of Your Business
? A Community Service
A Sales Tool
You can think of your website as a brochure. We have an attractive image on the front that says "open me, you know you want to". Inside we have product information, company information, contact information, and reasons why the potential customer should choose you.
With happy thoughts, the potential customer now turns into the buying customer because your website reflected the everlasting impression of what your business is.
A Cost Efficient Expansion of Your Business
Imagine being able to keep your store open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Imagine being able to sell products and services in your sleep. Imagine being able to sell to anyone, anywhere, to whatever region you want. Sounds nice doesn't it?
This is what your website should be providing for you. Hiring a web designer, paying monthly web hosting space, and purchasing a yearly domain name costs a fraction of what it does if you were to open several locations around the world.
This tell the customer "We provide options for you.". Imagine how grateful someone in a wheelchair would be if they didn't have to have someone drive them to your business to shop around, or what if they were bedridden and couldn't leave their homes at all?
A Community Service
What better way to say "I love you" than to bring people together. This is another way you can use your website to reflect your business. A community focused business website brings your customers together who have similar interest and who feel warm and fuzzy inside for finding a group of people just like them.
For instance, ecademy.com is a perfect example of a community focused website. It's exciting to wake up, check your email and get a personal message from a fellow networker. You can start more focused interest clubs, you can write articles. You feel apart of something.
What A Web Developer Isn't
? A Miracle Worker
? A One Service Provider
? A Lazy Bum
A Miracle Worker
Beware of web designers who make promises they cannot keep. A web developer's failure to live up to his/her promises will more than likely hurt your website, which in return can hurt your business image.
Let's take a search engine such as Google.com as an example. Google.com plays by their own rules that web developers cannot control, only abide by. A web developers promise to get you in #1 spot for the keyword "shoe" is almost impossible. There are some people who will result to measures that are against Google.com policy, to make you think you've reached that #1 spot. Keyword spamming, url spoofing, keyword hiding, to name a few. Resulting to these measures will make your site look unprofessional and get you banned from Google.com.
A One Service Provider
You shouldn't have to shop in ten different locations to create your website. This will lead to ten different levels of quality. For example, if you have to hire a graphic designer for the graphical layout, then a programmer for the shopping cart, and a writer for the content; if each professional isn't on the same thinking page about your company, it will be evident.
A Lazy Bum
A good Web Design Professional isn't willing to cut corners if it means sacrificing the quality of your online presence. This includes, but not limited to: search engine preparing, content management and research, information placement, programming and more. If your web developer slacks on any of these issues, your website will show it.
What A Web Developer Is
? A Solutions Provider
? A Consultant
? A Fast Learner
A Solutions Provider
You deserve a web developer in tune to your business needs and who understands how your website effects the image you are trying to create. The Developer should be able to provide many, if not all the resources available to complete your website from start to finish, or know the correct people who can.
You should feel confident asking your web developer questions and confident that you'll receive answers.
A Fast Learner
More than likely, your web developer will be alien to your industry of business. He/She should know how to research information related to your business and how to implement it into your website.
The Science of Information Placement
And last, but certainly not least is the science of information placement. This is simply knowing what information you want your customers to see and in what order.
For example, the first place a user focuses on the majority of the time when they first visit a website, is whatever is in the middle of the screen. This will be where you want to put your most important information, or sales niche. This isn't where you want to put your lengthy sales agreements and contract information.
The first impression you want to give your potential customer is that you are qualified to deliver what they need and how they need it, better than your competition. The more time they spend on your website trying to come up with those reasons, the more that potential customer is slipping away. We want to close that sale as soon as possible.
Your website reflects your business in the way it is ran, the products it provides, and how it treats its customers. Make sure that first impression is the correct one!
Tia Scott is CEO of Client Centers, LLC, an internet and graphic service business based in Florida since 2000. She also runs and maintains http://www.nerdbyte.com
Client Centers, LLC