5 tips for creating an impressive website
Article at a glance:
- Website design and development’s easy – when you hire a pro
- Be able to articulate your goals for the site
- Listen to your developer, even if you disagree
- First impressions are everything
I’m so relieved and excited to be launching our new EMSI website this week, it makes me wonder what took me so long.
Actually, I know what.
There’s a lot riding on a website; it has to convey brand and professionalism, communicate the right message and engage visitors. Every detail plays a role, from the logo to the text to the design and functionality. I feared developing a new site would be a long and painful undertaking that, in the end, would leave me dissatisfied still.
I’m happy to report my experience was just the opposite—and yours can be too. The key? Hire the right developer. I’d seen the work Joe Thomas of Left Brain Digital did for movies, sports entities and corporations, and I was impressed. Very impressed. That feeling compounded daily as we worked together. He made it so easy for me! I realized he’s a rare find—a guy with both technological know-how as a developer and creative artistry as a designer. Left Brain Digital’s flip side is Right Brain Design.
I asked Joe if he’d share with you his tips for creating a website that greets the world with a firm handshake and a twinkle in the eye.
Here’s what he wrote.
How Does Your Brand Look to the Public?
Or: 5 Steps to Prevent Looking Like a Homeless Street Vendor with a Card Table Full of Old Newspapers
I’m amazed sometimes, actually, more often than not. I field calls almost every day from high-level, brainy types who have this fantastic website they had designed by the hotshot friend of a nephew of their sister’s third cousin. But their product, service or book is just not selling from the site.
Usually, my first thought is to offer them a discounted handful of magic beans and tell them to hope for the best. But alas, I’ve run out of magic beans.
Have I just described your situation? Let’s talk about why.
You’ve spent months, even years, developing your products, writing your book or becoming an expert in your field. Then, three weeks before you launch into the market, you find the least expensive “web guru” to build your site. Approached this way, 9.7 times out of 10, you will wind up with a somewhat functional disaster.
Oh, but you love the look! There’s a blinking leprechaun, some neat-o scrolling text and, of course, really hip music that plays when you put your mouse over the little thingy at the top. Surely, you’re destined for greatness.
Unfortunately, under the circumstances described above, you would have to be a toilet paper manufacturer with inventory – two days after the world runs out of toilet paper – to have any kind of measurable success.
There are five things I tell every prospective client I talk to, so they’ll avoid falling into the “waste trap:”
- Have A Clear Understanding Of Your Objective: If you don’t know or understand your needs and goals for your website, you can’t explain them to your web developer. Think it through, and if you don’t understand the hows and whys, do some research. Your web developer, regardless of his or her talent or expertise, will be only as effective as your explanation and/or description.
- Allow Enough Time to Fully Develop Your Plan and Your Site: You can’t be effective if you just slap six web pages together with a “Buy Now” button. Sorry, it just doesn’t work like that, unless of course, you are the aforementioned toilet paper manufacturer. Fully develop your strategy and content before you jump in. You can’t build a house without the right tools, materials and adequate time. Developing a website is no different. Without a blueprint, you’re just throwing darts at a board.
- Don’t Be Married To It: Prepare to adapt. Don’t get too attached to your initial website idea. In fact, be prepared for change. An experienced developer will help mold your initial concept into a polished, functional and, hopefully, beautiful destination. Your developer should help you navigate the pitfalls and you should trust in his or her expertise. When your developer gives you advice, it’s a good idea to listen—most of us have made all the mistakes already.
- First Impressions Mean Everything: The concept, content and message of your website is ultra-important. On the Internet, image is everything. Your site needs to clearly convey your message or describe the benefits of your product or service, and visitors should be able to easily find the information they’re looking for. You have 8 seconds – yes, 8 seconds—to “capture” their interest. “But how do I do that, Swami?” First impression. Pick any two websites that sell the same type of product or service you do. Odds are you’ll like one better than the other. It’s got nothing to do with what they’re selling and everything to do with how the site looks. The first thing your visitors see will make a huge difference in whether they stay or rush off to the next site. Of course, having the perfect website won’t do you a bit of good if your book, product or service is awful, or if you don’t get people to stop by.
- You Can’t Sell What People Can’t Find: So now you have this perfectly developed website. It’s beautiful; it WOWS! But you’re not selling squat. “Why Swami? Why aren’t people ordering my book, or buying my propeller hats?’’ The answer: Nobody knows about it. The Internet is an awfully big place, Grasshopper. Without traffic, your website means nothing. Picture this: Two Everything’s A Dollar stores; one’s in the middle of a huge mall, the other’s 7 miles down a dirt road on the outskirts of Nowheresville. Which do you think has a better chance of making a sale? Without visitors, it’s difficult to sell those propeller hats. So, now that you’re rockin’ a whiz-bam website, it’s time to get the media exposure that brings visitors to your door. But you knew that. You read The PR Insider.
So there it is in a nutshell: Don’t put off till the last minute what will be one of your most valuable selling tools—your website. Find an experienced developer whose work you admire and who pays attention to your goals and desires. But heed his or her advice; that’s why you hired a professional!
Developing a great site doesn’t have to be an arduous journey with a disappointing end. Take it from me!
If you’re unsure about how to hire a developer or designer (and they are different), I know a good one! Joe is now creating sites at a special EMSI discount rate for some of our clients. You can see more of his work at www.leftbraindigital.com.
Marsha Friedman launched EMS Incorporated in 1990. Her firm represents corporations and experts in a wide array of fields such as business, health, food, lifestyle, politics, finance, law, sports and entertainment. She consults individuals and businesses on a daily basis and is frequently asked to speak at conferences about how to harness the power of publicity. Outside of the office, she is also the founder of a non-profit organization called the Cherish the Children Foundation. In 1996 the White House recognized her charity which sets out to raise awareness of the plight of underprivileged and foster children.