There are a few types of businesses that don’t need a Web site—really!—as well as a growing number that do business only over the Internet. Whatever business you are just starting—with a few computer rentals from CRE and a dream—you may be tasked with building a site yourself. Just how do you go about it if you’re not a design pro?
Keep it simple
Your site needs to communicate your business’s mission and “value propositions” clearly—and cleanly. Give visitors what theyneed to make the decision that youwant, whether it’s to purchase a product, engage your services or donate to your nonprofit. Although Flash animations are entertaining, they are no longer cutting edge. Minimize the “eye candy.”
Whether you are testing your new company intranet with an Xserve rental, or refining the site you already have, some basic design rules will help. It is easier to warn you about common “Web site woes” than teach you good design in a couple of blog posts. We will give you 10 great tips today, and 15 more next time around, to get you thinking (then doing).
1. Some Home pages make visitors click “Enter” or “Continue” to get to the real Home page. Home should be, well, Home!
2. Don’t waste space with an array of badges, Good Housekeeping seals or other certificates. If they are important, include them on your About page.
3. Be sure to include contact information. You’d be surprised how many sites leave out the most important details, like how to reach them or store location.
4. Visitors will leave in a nanosecond if they can’t figure out, immediately, what your site is about. Tell them clearly.
5. Do not “auto play” your favorite tune. If you really do need music, put “mute” and “off” buttons in plain sight.
6. Everybody speed-reads on the Web. Use short sentences, headlines, bullet points and lists to assist readers in “finding and filtering” your site’s content.
7. Forget fancy fonts, six different typefaces or eensy-teensy 5-point type. Don’t make visitors use the zoom control (which many don’t even know about).
8. Limit the Flash animations and video clips. Pages take longer to load, and overuse can irritate people.
9. Don’t go crazy with the color scheme. Super bright or very dark colors take some skill to use correctly, so stay in the “muted middle.”
10. This is your company’s “virtual face,” so no spelling or grammatical errors are allowed. If you’re not the best writer or editor, get professional help.
Above all, don’t let the Web work worry you. Just keep your cool, do some research, look at what good sites do (and don’t do) and do your best. CRE is here to help businesses, with everything from comprehensive office equipment rentals to high-powered workstations for exacting work in science, IT, the visual arts and audio engineering—as well as your bookkeeping and e-mail, of course.