Ask five experts how they define great web design and you’re likely to get 25 different answers. Why? Because they all value different elements. And every client has different needs. Depending on the industry they cover, what constitutes greatness is subjective. Throw out all the editorial components, however, and you’ll hit three – four, really, but we’ll come back to that – factors that are critical.
1) Look and Feel – Aesthetics matter. The first reaction from a new visitor is important and the visual appeal must be high. Take the time to work with your designer to flesh out the color, layout, and intent of your site. Clients may choose whether to work with you from the way they react to your website. Take the time to make sure it’s appealing.
2) Functionality – Your website must not only be well designed but easy to use, too. A visitor to your site isn’t going to want to waste time having to dig for information or click multiple times to find what they’re looking for. Your site should be intuitive and functional, enabling prospective clients to reach you without having to go through hurdles.
3) Measurement – A nice looking, easy-to-navigate site is crucial, but so is understanding how people are coming to your site and whether they’re spending time learning about your company or product. Good design incorporates analytics that allow you to peek behind the curtain and see what works and what drives away traffic. Simple measurement tools are a necessity.
4) Content – This is the piece that often gets overlooked but is just as important as the visual elements. Though not technically related to design, content determines whether visitors to your site are going to keep coming back. If you’re not providing quality content that resonates with your audience, your site has little value.
Does your current website successfully incorporate these factors? If not, what isn’t working?
More than 200 million professionals use LinkedIn as their premiere business social network. If you’re not already a member of the growing online community, you need to get started now. Here are some basic tips for getting started on LinkedIn.
1) Create Your Profile – Basically an online resume, your profile tells people who you are, your education, professional background, and more. You’ll need to upload a profile photo, which should be somewhat professional. The more complete your profile, the more visible you become on the network, so it’s important that you include as much information as possible. Try to avoid gaps in your employment history.
2) Craft a Quality Headline – The headline tells people in a succinct statement what you do. You’ll want to make sure it stands out, so something generic like Online Project Manager isn’t going to resonate. It’s important that you craft a headline that at least hints at your unique selling proposition or a differentiator. One suggestion is to take a few minutes to brainstorm some key words that would define you. Then try to incorporate some of the more distinct ones into your headline.
3) Write a Summary – Similar to an interview question, how would you sum up who you are and what you offer? Keep it simple but strive for an angle that at least has some element of uniqueness. How do you want to be viewed by people who click on your profile? Your summary should summarize that description effectively.
4) Activate your URL – To increase the opportunities to be found through search engines, you’ll want to customize your LinkedIn website address. The system will guide you through the process, and it takes just a few clicks.
5) Get Endorsed – After you have your profile up and ready, you’ll want to receive endorsements from others in your network for your skills. Endorsements are a quick form of testimonial that tells new visitors to your profile about your specialties.
6) Join Groups – Though designed for business, LinkedIn is still a social network. Join some of the networking groups established on the site and start building relationships.
If you’re not already on LinkedIn, the tips above will help you get started. Now, what are you waiting for?
The average internet user watches hundreds of YouTube videos each month. As a business owner, the opportunities to reach potential clients through the service are endless. But what’s the best use of your resources? Below are some suggestions for making the most of YouTube to help promote your organization and reach your target audience.
1) Be Real – People know when they’re being sold to. To avoid having the BS detectors go nuclear and ticking off the viewer, make sure the content you create is real. You can still promote your product and support your brand, but if you’re overtly trying a hard sell the likelihood of conversion is pretty low.
2) Be Educational – One of the main reasons people watch online video is to learn something new. If you establish your company as a viable source for valuable information, you’re more likely to bring visitors back over and over. For example, suppose you’re an all-purpose home improvement company. Your website will list all the services you offer – roofing, electrical, plumbing, and so on – but a video could offer useful information such as how often to change the batteries in a smoke detector. A simple video on the subject would take just a few minutes to shoot and upload. Now you’re providing value, which leads to . . .
3) Be Valuable – Shoot a short video answering basic questions about the industry you cover. Or review a new product. Using the home improvement example above, you could film a clip about the average length of time it takes to replace a sink. Maybe there’s a new type of shingle being used on a lot of new homes. You could talk about how it stacks up to other products.
With video, you’re limited only by your imagination and willingness to think outside the box. The steps above provide a solid foundation for using YouTube for your business.
Let me know some of your tips for YouTube for business.
Certain requirements are inescapable when running a business. You need a good product, a potential customer base willing to purchase the commodity, and a way to sell it. Good luck reaching and selling to customers without a quality website.
Carving out your piece of online real estate is mandatory to have a legitimate business in 2013. A Facebook page isn’t enough. Your website is the digital storefront for your company and the way potential customers know you’re for real. Below are the top five reasons you need a company website.
1) Customers – Everyone is online. Billions of people – or another way of looking at it, potential sales. If you had access to billions of customers, wouldn’t you want them to know about your business? You might be able to exist for a little while without an online presence, but eventually the well would dry up. A sustainable business never shuts the door on customers. The world exists in a 24-hour sales cycle. One of the great things about a company website is that it tells your customers you’re always open for business. Your business needs to be accessible at all times of the day. In a global economy, there are no official hours. You may still be asleep at 4:00 A.M. but potential clients in the United Kingdom are well into their morning routine.
2) Mobile Access – The fastest growing online segment is mobile. Smart phones have changed the sales cycle as people look for access when they’re away from their home computers. Do you want customers to be able to find you at all times, whenever they realize they need your product or service? A website, optimized for mobile, is a necessity.
3) Competition – Everyone mentioned above? That includes your competitors. Don’t think for a moment that they’re not looking for ways to eat your lunch and put you out of business. To stay competitive with others in your industry, you need to be online.
4) SEO – Search Engine Optimization has lost some of its luster but it’s still a key element of being found. When someone types a phrase into their search engine, you want your site to be one of the first ones that pops up. That happens with SEO.
5) Your Brand – Each element of your business contributes to your brand. Not having a website tells the potential customer that you’re not fully immersed and committed to your brand. Whether that’s true is irrelevant – perception is important. A quality business website communicates that you believe in your brand.
Are you content with your current online presence?
The first quarter of 2013 is drawing to a close and some web design trends will start to take hold. Predictions are just that, so it’s always interesting to see what comes to fruition. Of the four below, one is a guarantee while the others fall into the wait-and-see category.
1) Responsive Design – It’s almost a cheat to call this a prediction because it’s such an obvious direction. As screen sizes on phones, tablets, and computers continue to change, it’s going to be impossible for every website owner to modify their product for the multiplying range of resolutions. The cost and time would be prohibitive. Responsive design enables developers to create options that will work for all tools. This one’s a guarantee.
2) Single-Page Layouts – HTML5 has opened several new doors for designers, including the ability to create dynamic single-page layouts. Users will be dazzled by the scope and designers get to exercise their wide-screen sensibilities.
3) Touch Screen Efficiencies – The release of Microsoft’s Surface officially means that all the big dogs have jumped into the touch screen pool. To capitalize on the growing market, designers will have to create elements that work smoothly with the technology. That means bigger buttons, larger arrows, and simpler navigation. Hiding icons and getting cute with tiny imagery isn’t going to work.
4) Vertical Scrolling – In line with the touch screen efficiencies, simplicity and intuitive features will continue to be in demand. By building headers that move up and down the screen as the person scrolls, designers are enabling users to get the full experience of a page without the frustration of having to go back and forth as they browse. Frankly, it’s a surprise this hasn’t taken hold sooner.
What trends do you see on the design horizon for 2013? What would you like to see disappear?