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Archive for the month “January, 2012”

4 Stages of Website Design

Stage 1 – Style over substance
The first stage is to design a site that the chief executive officer, venture capitalists, and ad agencies like to see. There are all types of “bells and whistles” in this design. An entire site might be a Flash animated site. Or there might be some beautiful JavaScript mouse over effects or drop-down menus in the design. It’s always a pretty design, but the message is clear – style over substance.

Stage 2 – Designing for online visibility
In Stage 2, the reality of an ineffective web design begins to hit, usually around 3-6 months after the initial launch. A site will typically get rejected by many of the major directories, not be indexed by the major search engines, or not get the traffic or sales that were projected based on the various types of marketing strategies used. Typically, that’s when companies decide that they will try to hire a professional online marketer to promote the site. Doorway page companies, in some way, shape or form, rear their ugly heads. Unfortunately, many web site owners fall for a doorway page company’s pitch because the beautifully designed site couldn’t possibly be the problem with low site traffic. Yahoo might have rejected a site, or the site might have been listed in Yahoo and the company cannot understand why they have no description next to their company name. But in no way would many ad agencies or doorway page companies want to tell potential clients the truth — they simply did not design and write an effective web site — because it would mean losing thousands of pounds in business

Stage 3 – Designing for your audience
By Stage 3, after spending an exorbitant amount of money on pretty web site designs and various marketing strategies, web site owners generally figure out that they did not design or write an effective Web site for their target audience. Typically, web site owners will bring in a usability expert to analyze potential problems and present various solutions. Bringing in a search engine marketing expert to help with search-engine friendly web designs &templates early in the design phase can save a company thousands of pounds in online marketing costs.

Stage 4 – Site redesign
After careful usability and search engine visibility analyses, web site owners finally have an effective web site. A site that is written, coded and designed for user friendliness and search engine visibility generally gets the most traffic and resulting sales because it was written, programmed, and designed for end users.

Web sites should always be designed with your target audience in mind, not your own personal preferences. Colours have meaning. Professional designers understand the psychology of colour and the use of white space to best project the image your audience wishes to see. (For example, try not to use the colour red on a financial site.) Understanding the products/services/information your target audience is searching for is paramount to designing and maintaining an effective web site. When you launch a site, you might have to make an educated guess as to what your target audience wants. After that, tools such as site statistics software and reporting from site searches tell you exactly what your visitors are looking for. Then content and marketing strategies can be adjusted accordingly. Unless the advanced technology clearly benefits end users, do not use it on your site. If your venture capitalists or CEO’s or lawyers like the site, ask if they are going to spend the thousands or millions of pounds to keep you in business.

They’re not. Your target audience who will ultimately determine the success or failure of your site.

Tips for Using Handwriting Fonts

Most fonts remain unanimous unappreciated. Even the most commonly used font, Times New Roman is hardly noticed when used in a headline. However, you can catch reader’s attention by using special fonts such as Dynascript. The numbers of special fonts used in creating eye catching designs have exploded over the last decade. It seems that almost every release of graphics software makes even more fonts available. This has made it possible for many people to create websites with a lot of variety. The use of the handwriting font has grown over the years. Let’s see why.

One of the most common choices a designer has to make is whether or not use a handwriting font, which one to use ad where to use it. Proper use of this font can vastly enhance a web design by increasing the appeal of the web pages. In fact, there are times when it is almost mandatory to use a handwriting font to break the monotony. Over the years, some designers have perfected the use of these fonts. Below are a few tips on how to successful use them.

  • Choose the right font- It s vital that the handwriting font you choose is just the right on for the site. A cursive or script handwriting font with a feminine look will be ideal for sites that showcase feminine products. However, not all cursive fonts have a feminine feel. In case you need to add a little childish touch, you should opt for the single stroke or other uniquely made handwritings.
  • Minimize the use of handwriting- While handwriting will not doubt to break the monotony on a webpage. You risk having your website appear too casual if you over use it. It should be used on small parts of the web design such as RSS feeds. This is effective since it is very easy to catch readers’ attention. The fonts can be used to draw readers’ eyes to certain parts f the web page.
  • Use handwriting to describe your site- Handwriting fonts can be used to show what website is. Using certain fonts can easily make the site identifiable as a site for kids. It will inform readers that your website is dealing in children’s books and toys. It can also identify a site for artists, designers or illustrators.
  • Use it on headers and footers- a header is very importance since it bears the website’s name. Handwriting fonts can be used to tell visitors about the site and yourself. This can make your website attractive and unique. Handwriting can also be used in footers in any manner provided it enhances the appeal of each page.
  • Use it for introductions- Introductions are a very important aspect of web design. As such, they are mostly used in blogs and portfolios. A brief introduction giving visitors a little basic information on the products or services offered at the site can be written in a handwriting font. Since people spent on a fraction of their time reading introductions, you have to make the message both brief and appealing.
  • Use handwriting fonts for labels- There are websites that need labels for different images of products. Handwriting font is perfect for this. It gives the impressions that you actually to your time to write something about the product or clarify something to the victors.
  • Use handwriting to call for actions- Getting readers’ attention is very important for web owners if they want to call them to their action. Readers can be urged to do something that will benefit the website and its user community such as making donation, sharing on social-networking sites among others using handwriting fonts.
  • Use it to enhance navigation- Readers and users find it easier to navigate the site if they see short instructions of what they should do. This is especially important for websites with unique designs. Handwriting fonts can easily be used to draw their attention to the instructions this will be both helpful to the readers and your website.

The use of handwriting fonts can easily create a distinct impression o your website on readers’ minds. You will mostly love the reader’s response if you do it correctly.

3 Steps To Your First Small Business Website

When planning your first small business website, there are three essential questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. How will your target audience find you?
  3. How will you convert your visitors into sales?

These questions sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t bother…and then moan that “our website doesn’t bring us any business”.

1) Who is your target audience?

Give a great deal of thought to your target market. Who do you want to attract to your website? Why? The answer to that is more than likely to sell them something – a product, a service, or an idea perhaps.

Claiming that your market is anyone and everyone is far too vague, and your website will lack focus, and fail to maximise its potential. Ideally you should be aiming to create a niche.

2) How will they find you?

Creating a niche will also help you with the search engines, and drive hot leads to your site.

Consider what keywords your target market might type into a search engine to find you. Actually do the searches yourself. Who comes up in the top 30? Because that’s where you need to be. Are your competitors there? Look at their sites. Do they work? How can you improve on them? Identify something unique about your business that sets it apart from the rest.

Those keywords – or keyphrases to be more accurate – need to be incorporated into your pages of your site – in the page titles, in the headings, and in the internal links.
Be specific with your keyphrases. They will be less competitive than the more general single word searches, and will more accurately target your market. You may have to localise or specialise to get in that top 30 – and the top 30 is where you need to be to drive traffic to your site. As I am sure you are aware from your own experience, if you haven’t found what you are looking for in the first 3 results pages, you look elsewhere.

The key to achieving high search engine rankings is building inbound links to your web pages – that is pages on external websites that link to pages on your site. Crucially this link acquisition should be a natural growth – where inbound link count increases at a gradual pace. The pages that link to yours should be relevant, on-topic and ideally contain the same keywords – especially in the linking text. Search engines rank pages based upon their reputation – your ranking will be determined by what other (preferably high ranking) pages say about your page.

3) How will you convert your visitors into sales?

Don’t just tell them what you do or sell. Tell them why they want it (yes, want – not need). Offer incentives, freebies, discounts – anything to get that dialogue started.

Current research indicates that the human brain makes a judgment about a web page within a twentieth of a second! That doesn’t leave you very long to make an impression. So, make sure that you have your Unique Selling Point (USP) clearly visible on your home page – and preferably prominent on every one of your other pages. After all, it’s not a given that the home page will be the first page that the visitor sees, particularly if they have found you via a search engine.

Then make sure that you list your bullet-pointed guarantees. Visitors have to understand why you are different from the rest, and why they should deal with you and not your competitors. And as we’ve discovered, they have to understand this pretty much instantly.

Lastly, make sure that your site has a funnel-like structure. Identify your important pages – usually the “call to action” or purchase pages – and make sure all roads lead to those pages. Your internal links – like their external equivalents – should describe the target page. If you sell blue widgets, don’t call your products page “Products”, call it “blue widgets”, and make sure that the links pointing at this page also say “blue widgets”. This will not only help the search engines identify and rank the most important pages in your site, it will also lead your visitor to that all important conversion.

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