Web Design Basics to Remember Before Designing Your Website

Thinking about getting your website re-designed or a new website built? There are a few website design basics to remember:

Create a Unique Website

This is extremely important to resonate with your customers. People remember a site that is truly unique and not a clichéd template website. Your website should have your branded logo(that is distinctive and memorable), and your business' information. It should have added features that distinguish your site from the rest of your competition in your business' industry. Your website should be able to provide your customers with a highly interactive experience, such as, a calculator that demonstrates the cost of buying a house, or a calendar that allows users to see when and where your product will be on display at.

Keep your web design simple

Nothing turns off a potential customer more than a cluttered, confusing website. If you have an e-commerce website, don't overwhelm your customers with too many choices of products to purchase. Keep it to a limited amount of products. The checkout process should be very simple as well for your clients. Keep your website's pages with consistent design on all pages. Many people mistake intricate, cluttered graphics for guaranteed attraction to their website.

Have relevant information

Make sure you have a page that contains all of your most up to date contact information about your business, such as your business address and phone number. You should also have a page on your website that addresses any concerns that your customer might have concerning your business, it's products and services.

Generating revenue from a business' website can be key to a business' survival. It is extremely pertinent that the business designs a site that always puts their customers first and foremost. This is paramount to maintaining a loyal customer base.

Add Social Media Plug-ins

Make sure you include a plug-ins to your major social networking sites. This will encourage visitors to join your Facebook Fan Page or become a Twitter follower. Staying well connected with your target audience will help boost your sales.

Can DIY Website Design Harm Your Business?

Having an custom website design can be an integral part of generating revenue for your business. However, many businesses make the mistake of having a generic website, thinking that it will be enough to attracting interest in the business. Because the Internet has exploded with every business having a website of their own, it is important for you to stand out from the rest of your competition. Here are some reasons why NOT to have a DIY website design.

Having a DIY website design can save you money but...

There are many do-it-yourself web hosting/web building businesses out there. Most of these services are affordable, and new business owners feel that saving money on this tool will still help in generating revenue. Many people can spot a generic template. Your website will become lost in the fray of other businesses that offer similar services and products as yours. This loss of potential business is often outweighed by the amount of money you might be saving by not using a website developer who can create a unique website that is appealing to a wider audience.

Adding unique web features are difficult - if not impossible

Have you ever been impressed with a website that has a mortgage calculator, a retirement calculator or an online form that takes your information? These are unique features that are not easy to implement on your website. Most do-it-yourself website builders do not offer these features. These features also require maintenance, which most novice website builders, do not have the programming experience or capability to do. These features allow the user to have a unique, interactive experience. These features will attract more attention to your website.

Search Engine Optimization is difficult with DIY site builders

Most business that rely on revenue that is generated from online commerce, know the importance of being the first website to appear on a user's search. Many novice entrepreneurs are not privy on the ability to perform web marketing that uses Search Engine Optimization. The key to SEO is having your website linked to key words based upon the products and services that your business provides. This feature can be the difference between thousands of dollars and a few hundred dollars.

Keeping your website fresh, updated and unique can put your business on the forefront of your industry. Don't be afraid to spend a extra money in order to make money on your website. Remember, your website is a reflection of where your business currently is and will be.

Updating your Website the Right Way

Annually, more and more internet websites come online in competition with your business, which makes keeping your website updated with new technology a necessity. Not only does an old design with no flash and vigour show perspective customers that the business owner is not interested in their convenience, but it also shows them that the business owner is not interested in growing his/her business.

With each new website, the advances in technology take on a fresh new look that many perspective clients appreciate and generally because technology is always advancing, it is simpler to use; therefore, they can spend a smaller amount of time online out of their business day purchasing things that they require.

One of the best ways to decide what you need to overhaul on your business website is to analyze what you currently have, what your future is offering, and what you are going to require immediately and in the future. If you can stay on top of the modern design choices currently being implemented by today's web design companies, you stand a chance of only having to update various web pages within your website, and not the entire website.

As they say in business, you have to spend money to make money, but spending money wisely is also crucial, so ensure that the changes you make are going to be lasting changes and hire the best people you can afford to make it happen. In this world, you will get what you pay for, so pay for the best.

Once you understand what your website requires in updates, it is time to sit down with your designer and review what you feel is absolutely essential. Your website design company will be able to assist you by offering alternative web tools and features that can make updating less painful and less expensive. Sometimes what we think we need can be accomplished in a much simpler manner if we give the web designer a little freedom to guide us to understand how a subtle change can make more difference than a change that totally annihilates a web page that could still be useful, but requires a little tweaking.

If you are having trouble deciding what you require on your new website, why not ask a few of your customers, friends, or shareholders what they would like to see on your website or what they feel would make it easier for them to use the website. Sometimes insight from outsiders who are using the website on a regular basis is much more effective than trying to second guess what you require on your own, besides people like to offer advice and guidance when it will benefit all parties.

Another trick you can use is to have the designer you hire place a poll on your website asking specific questions. This will allow all visitors to your website within a specified period the opportunity to have a say anonymously. Sometimes designers use forms, polls, and/or surveys to accomplish these tasks.

How to Hire a Competent Freelance Web Designer

As a small business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities including ensuring that your business is well represented online, which requires an easy-to-use website that enables your customers to locate you and your products without spending a lot of time.

The average consumer will not spend more than a few minutes on the internet looking for a retailer that carries a product they are trying to locate, nor will they spend a lot of time on a website looking for the product. In order to persuade consumers to shop at your online store, you have to provide products in an orderly, easy-to-locate manner.

Keeping this in mind, it is essential when hiring a freelance web designer to stress the importance of keeping the website and its web pages simple, uncluttered, and easy to navigate.

In order to hire the Web Designer that is right for your company you need to plot out in advance what you require, and if you are unsure, you will need to spend some serious time looking into what is currently being used by other businesses marketing the same product as your business. You cannot hire a competent web designer if you have no idea about what it is you need. Once you know what you require, it is then time to begin looking for a web designer that can meet or exceed your website design needs.

One of the first considerations you should look at is whether the freelance web designer you are planning to hire has current programming and coding abilities in order to meet your website needs. Generally, a web designer capable of html, java, DOM (document object model, and CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) will be able to demonstrate the experience they have by either supplying web links or reference letters.

For websites that are not as graphic intense, it is still extremely important that the freelance web designer you hire is competent when using Adobe, Fireworks, Photoshop or other drawing and editing programs. A good designer will have the ability to create images and graphics for your website from scratch, or at the very least be able to modify existing ones for your usage.

Another consideration is the web designer's competence when it comes to using flash and video components on your website. Today, multi-media is a huge marketing tool, as is the use of social media for promoting and marketing your business and its products. The web designer you hire should understand how to implement it within reasonable bandwidth, so that your web speed doesn't drop and your consumers have adequate bandwidth to make viewing it possible.

Your web designer should also understand it is their responsibility to make you understand when they feel something will not be to your business' best advantage, like large video productions that will make your consumers uncomfortable and shy away from your website.

If the freelance Web Designer can answer all these questions comfortably with confidence and you, personally, find them easy to work with and enjoyable to discuss things with, you have probably found a web designer who will work good for you; after all, the biggest steps to overcome, when hiring someone to work freelance for you, is the ability to communicate well with each other, so that working out little problems that arise don't become a nightmare of push and pull.

Should You Use a Web Template or Custom Designed Website

It takes a visitor less than 10 seconds upon entering a website to decide whether or not a company is professional, reputable and legitimate. Your website design can make or break your business - regardless of what industry you're in. If your competitors all have quality websites and yours is poor quality, your potential customers will leave your site and purchase products and services from your competitors.

The appearance of a website can be compared to having a booth at a popular trade show. Visitors of a trade show will network and do business with companies that have a well-designed booth and an amazing product or service to offer. People tend to ignore poorly designed trade show booths. The same thing goes when it comes to choosing a design your website. You have to choose one that will give your visitors a good first impression.

Should you choose a Pre-Designed Web Template or a Custom Designed Website?

Let's first explore the advantages and disadvantages of having a Pre-Designed Template.

Advantages of a Pre-Designed Web Template:

-Usually takes only a couple of hours to upload. Your website can be up and running within the same day.
-It is less expensive than having a custom designed website.
-Fairly large selection of templates online.

Disadvantages of a Pre-Designed Web Template

-It's like having a cookie-cutter site. Hundreds of other people may choose your exact template design.
-Difficult to add basic elements. It can even hinder your SEO efforts because most templates are not SEO-proofed. This will make it more difficult to find your website on the Internet.
Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of Custom Website Design.

Advantages of a Custom Designed Website:

-Offers an unlimited amount of creative freedom. You're not stuck with someone else's template design. You can design your website according to what you want.
-Separates your website from the rest. Having a unique website design will put you in the forefront of your competitors who do not have a custom designed website.
-Optimized for SEO. It's easier to get your business found on the Internet.
-Your custom website design becomes your property and protected under the copyright law.

Disadvantages of a Custom Designed Website:

-It is more costly. Although custom website design is often more expensive than the basic pre-designed template design, the return on investment is worth it.
-It can take a lot longer to design. Depending on the complexity of your custom website design request, it could take up to thirty days until your site is up and running.

Regardless of whether you choose to have a pre-designed template website or you decide to the bull by the horns and opt for a customized website, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. If you are unsure which route to take, the best thing to do is to schedule for a consultation with your web designer to figure out which option is best for your business needs and your overall budget.

SEO & Website Design: The Top Worse Excuses New Business Owners Make

Here are the top excuses that many new business owners make when it comes to website design and SEO.

Decisions. Decisions. Should I consult a professional SEO company for my link building campaign or should I purchase 10,000 cheap backlinks from a link farm I found in my spam email for only twenty-bucks? I think I'll go with the latter to save money.

If you do, you will regret it in the long-run. You will never find a professional SEO company that provides their customers with cheap links at ridiculously low prices. Remember, you get what you pay for ...It this better to invest a little more in quality SEO services and receive quality links than buying cheap links. At least you won't run the risk of getting your website banned from the search engines.

I would love to launch my idea for a new e-commerce website next month. Instead of spending money on hiring a professional web developer, I'll try to build it myself and save thousands of dollars. Then I'll have enough money saved up to go on that vacation I've been wanting to go on.

Can you build a website that's user-friendly and SEO friendly? If you don't have access to an experienced web design team, you'll need a very long vacation after trying to build your own e-commerce website. Building an e-commerce website can be very tedious and difficult to design, especially for an inexperienced designer.

A professional website developer will build an e-commerce site that will make your visitors shopping experience a user-friendly one. Investing money to hire a web developer is well worth it because it will save you time and money in the long-run.

My goal is to sell 9000 e-books within 30-days. All I have to do is register for a free blog hosting site and post an e-book cover, post a description and blog about my new e-book -- that's it. Traffic will suddenly come out of the woodwork!

If you want to get people to purchase your new e-book or any product or service you're offering, you have to build credibility on the Internet first (even if you already have a following). It is easier to build credibility when you have a customized URL name (i.e. mynewebook.com).

I want a website that's different than any website on the web. Therefore, I'm going to create a website centered on what I think works best. So, I don't have to look at my competitors' site or anyone else's for that matter. My ideas are superior than the average person.

The worst thing you can do is build a website that meets your needs and not the needs of your existing and potential customers. If you build a website centered on what you think works best, you will more than likely have a high bounce rate. Your visitors will leave your website and purchase products and services from your competitors.

Website Visitors Biggest Pet Peeves of Website Design

Recently, we conducted research on website visitors' pet peeves when they enter a website. The following are pet peeves you have probably heard of and some that will surprise you.

Instant Video

Videos that begin as soon as you enter a website without providing visitors with the option to select the play button can be disconcerting according to many web users. It not only makes a web page load a lot slower, it can decrease one's bandwidth. Many visitors prefer to have the option to press the play button.

Trapped Within a Web Page

When leaving a web page, many visitors despise clicking the back page button only to discover they are reverted back to the exact page they were trying to get out of. This can certainly discourage a visitor from returning to a site in the future.

Animation Overload

Some people cringe when they visit a website that is heavy handed when it comes to animation. Animation can be nice to look at and even entertaining, however, when there is too much animation on a web page, this can be quite annoying. Visitors especially hate websites that automatically drops down an object such as a survey box that takes a long time to get rid of.

Blaring Audio Ads

Visitors tend not to like loud audio ads that suddenly appear on a web page the moment one clicks onto a site. Web pages with a short music intro or sound bite is okay. However, they do not like music that plays contihe nuously. Most people prefer well design sites that keep it simple. If you choose to have audio on your site, you should have it where visitors can regulate or stop the music.

Dated 1990s Web Design

People click out of sites that scream ...where's the floppy disc! It is amazing that there are websites out there that still have backgrounds reminiscent of the early 1990s DOS ages. This consists of the bright blue background with the bold white/black text. Then you have websites with the orange background with the blue links. Today, there are so many design options available for people to choose. You can hire the services of a professional web design team to create a site for you -- if you're unsure what direction to go in.

To avoid having a website that belongs on the top 10 list of the worst website designs, consider having an experienced web designer analyze your website. They will be more than glad to provide you with constructive feedback on how to improve the overall design of your website. Having a website is more important than ever before. You can do all the SEO and Internet marketing in the world but if you have an outdated website design, it can hinder your online visibility.

Why Free Website Hosting Can Hurt Your Online Business

Often times, many new business owners feel that investing in a paid hosting service for their website is too expensive or difficult. So, they will settle for a free web hosting. Paid hosting is not expensive at all. On average, website hosting costs $6.99 - $19.99 per month to maintain.

Some people who are new or unfamiliar with the Internet world feel all that's needed is a website and suddenly customers will flock to their site to purchase their products or services. Actually, free based websites can drive people away from your website. Keep the following disadvantages in mind before registering for free websites.

Unwanted Promotional Ads on the Website - Free based websites will have their own ads on their sites to help build revenue. Some will even have pop-up ads and huge flashing banner ads that are difficult to ignore. Even worse, you can't remove these ads. Customers will visit your site and leave because of the annoying ads.

Creditability Goes Down the Drain - When you have a free website to promote your products or service, people will find it difficult to take your business seriously. Free websites tend to have an amateur look which is a complete turn off to online visitors.

Awkward Web Address - Instead of having (yourowndomain.com), you will have an address that has a hard to remember name (yoursitename.someoneelsesistename.com).

No Personalized Email Address - Companies that offer free web hosting services do not provide users with a branded email address (youname@yourdomain.com)

Search Engines Ignore Free Sites - This is a huge negative. If search engines can't find a site, your potential customers will not find your website.

No Interactive Features - Free web hosting sites do not provide you with interactive features that paid hosting sites offer such as: online ordering, chat rooms, message boards, no data bases, etc. Additionally, many free websites do not support programming languages like JSP, CGI, PHP and ColdFusion. Free sites do not permit FTP (file transfer protocol) access. This can be a huge dilemma if you have a several files to upload.

Very Limited Support Options (if any) - If something goes wrong with your website, there is often no technical support line to contact. Paid hosting sites offer free technical support 24/7 unlike free hosting sites.

Not Site Availability Guarantee There is no guarantee that your site will be available tomorrow with a free based website hosting registration. Your site may be online today but it could be terminated tomorrow. Paid web hosting guarantees that your website will be available to your customers.

Free Webhosting May Not Be Free Forever  Business owners with free based web hosting may not have to pay for web hosting today, tomorrow may be a different story. Some free hosting sites will give you free hosting but then suddenly charge a web hosting fee out of nowhere. Those who refuse to pay fees will find their sites offline for good.

Free web hosting offers very limited web design options. Web template designs from free hosted sites provide generic designs that can appear cheesy to your visitors. If you want to build your brand and establish an online presence, paid hosting is the best solution. Customers can never take a business seriously if you have a free hosted website.

Most Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Designer

So, you've looked at your prospective web designer's online portfolio for the hundredth time. You filled out the user form for a free online quote and you just received a response -- the rates are awesome. Before selecting him/her for the winning bid, there are a few important things that you will need to know. Below are questions you should consider asking before choosing a web designer.

Ask for a Web Design Price Breakdown

This will save you money because you can see which segments of the website design project that you truly need and what can be eliminated.

Ask for Web Design References

This will help you determine if the web designer is the right person to work with. If the web designer has active websites within their web portfolio, this can also serve as a reference.

Ask about Web Design Support

Find out if the web designer offers on-going client support. The web designer you choose should be able to provide you with website maintenance and content changes. Ask how much it cost to maintain your website. In addition, find out if they offer a Content Management System (CMS). With a content management system, you or one of your employees can easily update your own photos, text, etc.

Find out the Web Design Project Time-frame

Confirm how long it will take to develop your website. You will need to know so you can start promoting your business.

Ask for a Mock Design of Your New Site

If you are anxious to see how your website will look like in advance, ask the web designer to create a mock website design. Keep in mind, most web designers charge a fee even if you decide not to use the mock design.

Do You Deed a Logo Designed?

If you need a company logo designed, find out if the web designer provides graphic design services. Whether you own a business or non-profit organization, your website should have a well design logo displayed on your new website. A website without a logo looks unprofessional.

Have an Existing Website?

If you already own a website, ask the web designer if he/she can possibly redesign your current website. This can save you a considerable amount of money, as opposed to investing in a full website design from scratch.

Ask if the Web Designer offers SEO

Once your website is built, people have to find your website. Find out if they offer Search Engine Optimization to help promote your website. Without SEO, your website will be buried under thousands of competing sites.

Find out Contact Info

Make sure the web designer has some form of contact info such as a phone number and email address. Verify their regular business hours. This is important to know in the event you experience a problem with your website in the future.

Quick Web Design Tip: Search on online to get web design ideas. Copy and paste the URL links and send them to your web designer. This will help them get a general idea of what creative direction to go in when designing your website.

How to Improve Your Website for the Fall Season

Now that the summer season is practically over, it is time for every business owner to consider updating their website design. The following are a few important things you will need to change for the up-coming fall season.

Avoid the Sales Ad Website Design Look

Web users still discriminate against website designs that look like advertisements. Many visitors dislike ads so much that they will automatically ignore sales ads. Avoid any kind of web design that appears like an ad. A good example of online ads that web users tend to ignore is pop-up ads. Pop-up ads can get in the way of a person's navigation. Remember, your visitors user experience is supposed to be effortless. Whether we want to believe it or not, it is better to have a simple website design than an extravagant website filled with flashing banner advertisements.

Change Visited Link Colors

Make sure you change the color of all links visited. This is why it is so important to know which web pages web users have previously visited. Coloring your links will prevent your visitors from constantly visiting the same pages. When you don't change the color of your links, it slows up the navigation process. When you change the link colors, your visitors will be able to distinguish between which pages they have visited in the past. It also makes your website more user-friendly.

Adjust Default Font Size

One thing that many people fail to do is change the default font size of their text. It is imperative that you change your font size, especially when using CSS style sheets. Usually, the default font size is way too small. When your text is too small it decreases readability. Make sure you resize the text accordingly to make it easier for your readers to review your text.

Make Your Text Scannable

Your website text should be easy to read and scannable. When writing content for the web, it is important to remember that you are not writing for traditional forms of print media such as newspapers and magazines. You're writing for the web. Most web users don't have time to read a 2000 word article about your new product launch.

If you want to persuade your web users to take the next step -- whether it involves making a buying decision or contacting you by phone, your text has to short, sweet and to the point.

To make your text more scannable, use subheadings, bulleted lists and highlight keywords. Avoid using long drawn out paragraphs. Make sure you use a simple writing style. So, instead of writing: To expedite the process of ordering our wonderful products, give us a telephone call today ...Just cut to the chase and write: To place an order by phone, contact us at: (XXX)XXX-XXXX.

Lastly, avoid adding fluff just to make your content appear longer. When your text is too long and difficult to read, your visitors will get bored and leave your website.

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