9 Keys to an Effective Website
Many small companies choose not to invest in a professionally designed website, although a well-designed Web site may raise the company's level of professionalism and exposure - AND drive business and sales!
Make sure your website is working for you with the following characteristics:
Usability enables your users to get the most out of your site. This means that the
site's navigation is consistent, clear and easy to follow; forms and links are in
working order; and the information on the site is current and answers incoming
clients' potential questions.
Findable: If people can't find you, then they won't buy from you. Make sure your
pages have text coded in HTML instead of embedded in the graphics, so that search
engines can read it. Put ALT tags on the images you do have - search engines look
at these, and they can improve your rankings. Include META tags in your code and
submit them to at least the major search engines. You can do this for free - ask me
how! Finally, find some online directories where your site would be a fit and add
your site to those directories. This is one more way potential clients can find your
site; having directories and other sites linked to yours can also increase your
ranking in the search engines.
Legible fonts, sized for easy reading on different platforms and browsers. Also,
make sure your font is either significantly lighter or darker than your background
color or pattern, so that your site is readable for colorblind people, too. If you're
using a background pattern, make sure that it doesn't interfere with the text.
Cleanly designed, with graphics that enhance the website's message, instead of
detracting from it. This applies to animations as well, which should be designed
with a purpose.
Reinforces and repeats elements of your brand image, building upon the design of
your corporate logo and other materials and repeating your company's message.
Consistency of your company's brand is important across all media.
High-quality graphics that are optimized and saved in the correct format for their
content - JPEG format should be used for gradients or photos, and GIF format
should be used for images with areas of solid color.
Fast loading: Optimizing your graphics and writing clean code will ensure that your
users only wait a minimal amount of time for the page to come up. If people don't
see your site quickly, they're more likely to click away from it or not return in the
Cross-platform compatible: Make sure that your site looks the same on PC and
Macintosh systems, and on Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mozilla and all the other
browsers - that way, you're not missing any of your audience! You'll also want to
make sure that the site looks equally as good in older versions of the browsers - not
everyone updates their browser software when new versions come out.
Clean code will load fast! Well-written code is also less likely to load incorrectly in
different browsers. Clean code will also enable other web designers to pick up the
maintenance of your site easily if you decide to transfer those responsibilities to a
A well-designed website works as a qualifying agent and also provides information
24/7 about your business to all your potential clients. It is a vital resource and
marketing tool for doing business in today's global marketplace.
About the Author
Erin Ferree, Founder and Lead Designer of elf design, is a brand identity and graphic
design expert. She has been helping small businesses grow with bold, clean and
effective logo and marketing material designs for over a decade. elf design offers
the comprehensive graphic and web design services of a large agency, with the one-
on-one, personalized attention of an independent design specialist. Erin works
closely in partnership with her clients to create designs that are visible, credible and
memorable - and that tell their unique business stories in a clear and consistent
way. For more information about elf design, please visit: Logo design at http://www.elf-design.com
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