There are some brilliant website designers who are true artists and therefore worth every cent that they charge, even at R50,000 or R100,000. There are also some people who can fling out a bad design at grossly inflated prices with no regard for the long-term prosperity of their clients. I always suggest making a scrapbook of design elements that you like about websites that really impressed you- and make a note of what doesn’t. You can create a composite of what you envision your website to look like.
My secret tip, which is not going to be secret much longer: google your opposition’s websites and try make yours better. This is where I save myself time and my clients money by using free or cheaply available website templates. You get to see what your website will look like before paying for it and you get to tweak it to suit you. Some serious designers might look down on the use of website templates but they were originally designed by a great website designer. I compare it to buying a T-shirt at a local department store: hundreds of people buy the same T-shirt as you do but how often do you see them wearing it? Or like buying a suit off the rack and having it tailored to suit you.
A shabby website makes your company or brand look shabby. People are quick to judge a book by it’s cover so your website needs to make a positive impression within the first 5 seconds. It needs to make a positive statement so that people remember you in case they’re just shopping around but might want to come back to you. But, as we all know, looks are not that important but what lies underneath. The same is true of your website.
Great websites have clear calls to action, enhanced by search engine friendly content that is regularly updated and descriptive meta tags. Besides offering value to your website’s visitors these attributes are like bait in the water to search engines which makes your website easier to find. The advantages are that people find you faster and search engines rank you higher. That means more business and cheaper PPC advertising. You can overdo it and get penalised so best adopt a sensible but proactive approach.
Last but not least you should enable your website for social media sharing so that visitors can promote your website onto their social media platforms (you get free exposure!) and also so that potential clients can connect with you on your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or Google Plus. This enhances communication but also generates a lot of traffic to and from your site- which is another factor Google finds appealing. Some social media platforms might not be suitable for your product and they require a fair amount of time to maintain. Sometimes you also need to break the rules a little to suit yourself and your personality.
Here’s a selection of websites I’ve created for clients:
DelegacyEnterprises.com offers a great service for ordering custom designed stationery online. It stood to reason that they would need online advertising through PPC. Before we initiated the PPC campaign I suggested they update the website to include more information about their products and services. Google loves content so I was keen to jam it with as much information as possible using strong SEO keywords but also to make it informative and entertaining for the reader. It’s hard to have fun with stationery online so we offered helpful information on each page that would inform, educate and entertain clients. Each pages has unique content but a little something extra as a reward if you invest the time reading each page on the site. Delegacy Enterprises deals mostly with businesses so we opted for strong corporate colours in charcoal greys and a pop of colour. It’s a sophisticated website that appeals to companies but the editorial copy is people friendly. Plus, every page has an easy to use social media sharing icon.
Aerospeed Couriers is a sophisticated company offering a bespoke courier service so they needed a website that reflected their sophistication and their values. They spoke so passionately about the people that they serve so we created a website that echoed that sentiment but because their clients are often pressed for time looking for last minute express courier services online we avoided an emotive sales pitch and stuck to the cold facts about urgent deliveries. They wrote their own copy because they understand the courier business better than I do, or ever will, but I tweaked it with stronger SEO keywords and obviously enhanced some other stuff that I consider proprietary information. Courier companies are often impersonal because you deal with a stranger on a phone to get a stranger to deliver a parcel. AerospeedCouriers.co.za isn’t like that- and neither is their website.
Voiceperfect.org is the website of Barbara Gillman. She’s my co-host on Radio Today and she runs her own thriving business teaching speech and communication skills to private and corporate clients. She’s not a massive corporate company so she didn’t need a website with a sense of scale to it, but she is sophisticated, artistic and vibrant, so we agreed on this website template which we felt would appeal to a corporate and artistic visitor. She got the best of both worlds. The only thing we didn’t like was the shocking pink detailing (for obvious reasons) and substituted it for the chartreuse which was more in keeping with Barbara’s personality. We wanted the contact details to be evident on every page but we didn’t want spam-bots to find it- so we embedded it in a java script for added security. You always know that if you want Voice Perfect- you can contact Barbara on any page.