WEBSITE BEST PRACTICES
By Megan Moye Zacher, Canopy Advisor
Your website is arguably your most valuable marketing tool, and there are many common mistakes you can avoid with these helpful tips for making the best impression online.
Use Captivating Imagery
Comprised of nothing but code, websites are inherently antiseptic and two-dimensional. They’re basically a white color field with black characters, and they even lack the tactical benefits of a book or magazine. But well-designed websites leverage original, captivating images to communicate your value proposition quickly and powerfully. Infographics can be a very effective way to describe a complicated concept or process, and they’re a great way engage and educate your website visitors.
Showcase Only Your Best Work
Sure, your website should communicate a breadth and depth of work, but keep in mind potential clients are often looking at your website for reasons not to hire you. If your project photography or case studies are older than five years, they’ll start to look outdated which implies your business is slow. It’s better to feature only your best and most recent work, even if it means you show only a few examples.
Register Your Domain Name & Protect It
Your domain name or website address only costs about $10 a year, but it’s one of your most valuable business assets. Don’t let someone else (like your website designer) register it for you. Set up an account at Network Solutions, Godaddy or another provider and maintain control of this account. Keep your username or password in a safe location and make sure your contact information is always updated to ensure the domain name won’t accidentally expire. If it does, you’ll have to wait 90 days to re-register and someone could beat you to it!
Don’t Do It Yourself
These days, everyone and their brother think they can design a website. There’s a good chance someone you know has offered to design your website for free (or you’re thinking of building it yourself), but you’ll get what you pay for.
Websites are extremely cost-effective marketing tools and offer a significant return on investment (ROI). For example, a professionally designed website costs about the same as designing and printing a thousand brochures, but it can reach hundreds of thousands of people around the world. And what a targeted audience! Your visitors have opted to seek you out and you should reward them with a high quality, professional, and thoughtful website (not one designed by your nephew over winter break).
Your competition may have a slick website with lots of traffic, but you should avoid the temptation to plagiarize it. The finished product might look as polished as theirs, but nothing else will set you apart (and you might get sued). Instead, create your own memorable identity by defining and expressing your key differentiators. If you don’t know what they are, chances are your audience won’t either, and you have bigger problems than your website design.
Less Is More
Crowded websites with lots of text, key word “stuffing” and other outdated marketing techniques just confuse your visitors and leave them questioning what you actually do. A well designed website frees up white or negative space and features more graphics, links to downloads, and dynamic content like embedded videos.
In today’s business environment, it’s more important than ever to have an active online presence. Make sure to pay attention to the details – old copyright dates in your footer or outdated announcements are clues your website isn’t regularly maintained.
Luckily, Content Management Systems (CMS) like Squarespace.com make it easy make website updates without technical expertise, and search engines will actually reward you with improved search results when you update your website regularly.
In conclusion, your website should reflect the very best of what you do, inviting visitors to peruse your expertise, contact you for more information, and ultimately hire you!