All too often we run into a new agent or investor and the first thing they do, though we have other methods we would recommend for marketing yourself, is hand us their card. Fantastic, right?! Now we've got your info and we'll go right to the office and check out your information. What a great opportunity this could be in the making. We sit down at the computer and punch in the web address on the card and voila! Nothing!
If I even find the site, it's the most boring, drab thing I have ever seen in my life. I can't find the information I'm looking for and there's nothing there telling me about you or the services you offer. Oh wait, found the services! By the time I've read through all the garbage, I don't even remember where I began. Your pictures are pixilated, everything is square and the color scheme looks like something off that Mac I used back in the day. You know the one with the 8 color screen?!
Do you really think that will draw clients to do business with you?
When designing your site, or having someone else design it for you for that matter, there are several things you should keep in mind:
1) Think about your audience. Will they be more impressed with a clean site or something more visually impressive? In real estate, one would definitely want to go with a very clean, easy to navigate site, that gets the information to the targeted audience as quickly and easily as possible. In other industries, lets say software, it may be more important to visually impress your audience with beautiful graphics and lots of movement.
2) Get to the point. We get it! Your products and services are top notch, but we don't need to know how you invented the wheel and all the pieces and parts that went into it. Your audience simply desires to receive the information they came there to get. List some of your services, especially your featured ones, and create a clear understanding of what you do and how you do it without 10,000 words. They'll get the point and you'll get the business.
3) Navigation is key. Pure and simple; if it's hard to find things on your site, you'll never capture your audience. Don't bury key information 3 and 4 pages deep on your site. Bring them a message on the homepage and help them navigate to the second page in to receive a better description. Avoid pop-ups at all cost. They are far less affective than you may imagine.
4) Flash. Agreed, it's nice looking! You should avoid using it however, if at all possible. There are several reasons including incompatibility with mobile platforms, breakage of code when viewed by search engine, overwhelming memory usage and long load times. There are instances when Flash is needed, but just to glamorize your site shouldn't be one of them. Consider more viable alternatives such as advanced HTML encoding.
5) Color schemes, text and graphics. Always be sure to pick color schemes that go well together and that help to promote the overall functionality of your site. Unless you're selling ice cream, the neapolitan color scheme may not be the best choice. In the design world, we often use Pantone products to ensure colors compliment one another and the proper mood for the site has been established.
Text is another important matter as it can determine not only what's easy to read and what's not, but what's inviting and what isn't. Letters with harsh breaks and too much detail get lost on columned pages and are often referred to around our office as "itchy". Use soft fonts, such as Arial, and always double check the web's compatibility with the font you choose as internet browsers can't read the same fonts that your word processor can.
Graphics follow some of the same rules. Pixilated images occur whenever an image is stretched beyond its original size and can often appear blurry when viewed online. Graphics can single handedly make or break a site. Be aware of your content and help to choose pictures that only further accentuate your message.
There are lots of rules that should be considered when developing a site. I could go on and on, but we'll let you chew on that for now. Take the time to evaluate your site and get several opinions before assuming you're right on the money.
Do you have further questions? Need a professional to take a look at your site? Totally lost and not sure where to start? Feel free to leave a comment! You never know, you may run into someone that can give you advice. You may even run into one of our design professionals! You never know ‘til you try!
* image compliments of thebiguglywebsite.com