Brainstorming the LOOK You Want for Your Website?

The point of this blog post is to help you revive what’s already in your brain and keep you focused.  Now it’s the time to decide how you would like your website to look before handing your ideas to the web designer.

To avoid getting swamped in endless busy-work and ending up with a site that no one can understand, decide on the main theme of your site. With your mission statement in hand (click here to read about mission statements), you’re almost ready to begin the website construction. In this next section, you’ll learn the type of content you’ll need to obtain in order to give your website some pizzazz!

Collecting Your Content

You’ve decided on your mission. You wrote it maybe rewritten it a couple of times.  But now it’s time to gather the content that will reflect the ideas and messages of your site.

There are two types of content:

*Content you already have:

If you’re planning a business site, you probably have marketing brochures, product briefs, sales letters, and business cards. Assemble these in one place. With luck, everything you have is already in a digital format; otherwise, enter it into digital form by scanning or typing it in to your computer.

*Content you still have to collect:

If you’re a business owner, assemble a few employees together creating a focus group.  This focus group can help with ideas on what may look best.  You may be surprised at how much knowledge your employees have of your business and how much they can contribute to this venture.

Let’s say that you want a website that provides the ultimate source for bird watchers.  You have a collection of product brochures, but they are not sufficient to attract customers to your website. So, it’s off to the search engines to see what your competitors are doing.

The following are some good search engines you can use for your research:

  • Google.com
  • MSN.com
  • Yahoo.com
  • Ask.com
  • Bing.com

Web Design Basics

Web designers can help create a “look and feel” for your website. Here are ideas of what colors might work well for a website.

So, What Works for Your Site?

As mentioned earlier, your “look and feel” should be according to the type of business you are in.

Here are some guidelines to start your thought process:

*Sites for children or child-related topics, e.g., toys classically use bright primary and secondary colors such as red, green, yellow, and blue.

Example: http://toysRus.com

*Professional and corporate sites use shades of blue or green (such as navy blue or forest green), along with grays, tans, and beiges.

Example: http://divinecreativityinc.com

*Online-store color format is all over the map and often relates to what they sell. For example, bath and beauty products can be presented in shades of pink and beige, or forest green and white. Clothing stores can be a bit bolder, using a bright navy blue or crimson red along with tan or gray.

Example: http://shiseido.com

Use Images Wisely

Images can help put into words what you want to express. They can also help users understand how to use the site.  Images express ideas.  For example, if you own an ice skating rink and you would like a website encouraging families to come out and skate, a good image to use might be one of a family skating, laughing and having a good time, which image expresses the feeling of fun and family bonding, without you actually putting the words “Fun and Family bonding” on the site.  Using only the words would not have the same effect as the graphic.

Remember, it is the feeling you generate from your site, i.e., pictures and words that sell, not boring information.  Allow for a balance of good information and feeling on your website. Images should be chosen carefully. There are an infinite number of images to choose from, so the next step is to look for images that best suit your needs.  Remember to use photographs or graphics that are royalty free to reduce your expenses or have a graphic designer create them for you so you have the rights the legal right to use them.

But How Do I Find Images to Use on My Website?

One of the trickier tasks in website development is finding and collecting just the right images for your website. Assuming you don’t have a big graphics budget, you’ll be doing some investigating to come up with some good ones.  Many times I supply my clients with pictures and graphics for a small fee and/or send them to www.clipart.com.  Clipart.com is a site that has photos, graphics, and website buttons and more; clip art is a small part of their site.

Be mindful that all images are copyrighted.  Know if the image you are using is royalty free or not!  There are so many sites out there with beautiful images, but they’re not free for the taking. Although it’s simple to download an image from someone else’s website, you may think twice before downloading for use on your own website or for commercial use.  Also note that there are many beautiful images that are royalty-free!

There are three main sources of images:

  • Copyrighted images you can get for free
  • Copyrighted images you must pay to use, and
  • Images that you create, or hire graphic designer to create, and you own the copyright to

Let me clarify a bit about copyrights. When you create something, you own it. No one else can use it unless they obtain authorization to use it, or purchase rights to the item from you. Even though a site might not contain a copyright notice it is wise to assume that everything used on someone else’s site is copyrighted. Whoever owns the site always owns all the words and all the images on the site (unless they used the images or text without authorization from the rightful owner). When you stay within these guidelines, and find or create legal graphics, it will, undoubtedly save you money and aggravation in the long run.

Want to jazz up your site with appealing graphics?

Most word processors, desktop publishing software, and image processing software applications come with a wide variety of free images, e.g., like Microsoft Word and Publisher.

Another alternative is to use royalty-free artwork. The words royalty-free might sound difficult but, it actually isn’t.  A royalty means the fee you pay the owner of a copyright for permission to use the copyrighted item, each time you use it. Royalty-free means that instead of having to pay a fee each time you use the image, you can pay a flat fee once, then you are able to use the image over and over again.

There are two ways to get images royalty-free:

You can purchase CD-ROMs containing thousands of royalty-free images. Check out your local, large office supply stores to see what’s available.

There are a number of places on the web to download royalty-free art, for a fee. One of the best values is iStockphoto or you can Google royalty free art, copyright free art, or simply, free art.

No matter where you choose to get your artwork and images; make sure you read the fine print, the restrictions on use and the legal notices on the CDs. Most royalty-free work is available for use on a public website, but sometimes they restrict use on businesses, schools, eCommerce and non-profit organizations.

To Clip Art or Not to Clip Art

Clip art is a mixed blessing. You’ll find loads of it on the internet or on inexpensive CDs, and you’ll probably find images expressing the idea you want to convey. The trouble is that clip-art images are simple line drawings and, as such, they don’t always express your unique professional message.

If you are considering using clip art, look at many of them before you make a choice.  You can always ask your web designer for suggestions, or ask them if they have any professional images or clip art you can use.

In short, the best suggestion I can make is to consider images or photographs for you website.  Photographs usually look better than clip art and it’s worth considering these images for your web pages.  If you have a camera and a good eye, you may consider stopping your search for images altogether and capturing your own.  Again, ask your web designer for help in this area.  Some web designers can even take photos for you.

For more tips and advice on web design check out my ebook “8 (now 9) Easy Steps to your Complete Website” how to communicate with your web designer and get remarkable results, visit http://divinecreativityinc.com/ebook.html

Web Content Writing “Blah, Blah, Blah…or is it?”

Words are the foundation of your website.  They play a major role in determining what you communicate to the world.  Many websites fail because of boring headlines and stories.  Choosing to have magnetic text that will keep visitors coming back is the way to go. It has been scientifically proven that most of us take in only around 40% of what we actually see.  Our brains edit out the other 60% of visual information as irrelevant.  On this basis, if you have a serious offer to make in your website it would be wise to repeat it, not just twice, but quite few times times. If you don’t know how to write interesting text, you may use my formula called C.I.B.A. or hire a professional writer.

Use this formula when writing your website text:

Catch their interest: use a WOW headline with a WOW mission statement

Impress: create curiosity and captivate your visitor

Be specific: give details about your product or service

Act: get them to act quickly to buy your product or service

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Catch their interest: use a WOW headline with a WOW mission statement

Create a headline that DEMANDS ATTENTION.  This headline might be a question identifying a problem, and/or a mission statement. Your reason for having a website can be compared to a business’s mission statement, which describes a company’s reason for existence; simply put: a mission statement that tells the folks reading it just what the business is all about. This is the corner stone of your marketing strategy.

Examples of business headlines that also include mission statements are:

Divine Creativity Inc­– “Tech Savvy Virtual Assistants”

vBuzz.biz – “Create a Buzz for your Biz”

Inspired Journey– “Move forward with purpose”

Conga Rhythm-“Music for the mind, body and soul”

Fedex – “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”

WiseApple – “Creating artistic goodness since ‘93”

M&M’s – “The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand”

Wonder Bread – “It helps build strong bones 12 ways”

Head & Shoulders – “You get rid of dandruff”

Olay – “You get younger-looking skin”

Red Bull – “You get stimulation of body and mind”

It’s very important to take the time necessary to develop a great headline and mission statement that grabs your visitor’s attention. Then they are more likely to read further.  These simple but powerful statements help differentiate your product/service from everyone else.

Most importantly, personalize your sales message, ask yourself these questions:

What is my unique headline and mission statement?

What makes me different from my competitors?

Will just a few words give my customers a powerful, compelling reason to buy my product or select my service?

Have your potential customers say this about your product or service:

“No, I’ve never wondered about that, but now that you ask, I’m curious.”

Impress:  create curiosity and captivate your visitor

Give your visitor a reason to visit and continue to visit in the future.  Provide them with new content on a continual basis.  Web designer or tech savvy virtual assistant can update the website for you on a biweekly basis at a reasonable price.  It’s worth the extra small expense rather that having static or outdated material.  Your website is the virtual store for your products/services; therefore, it should give visitors helpful advice and instructions about your offerings.  Just like actual stores relocate products and put things on special, act as if your website is an actual store and refresh it which helps to boost Search Engine Ratings.

Be specific:  give details about your product or service

Well written text is the most important part of your entire website. Every word, sentence and headline should have one specific purpose.  Tell your potential customer exactly what your service/product can do for them.

Be gently persuasive! Write for your website as if you were talking to your customer personally. Create a list setting the features of your product or service and mention the benefits.

Ask yourself why should this customer purchase my services/products?

As an example; “With this Feature you will Benefit”:

Feature – organic food

Benefit – good health

Act:  get them to act quickly to buy your product/service

First you must gain your visitors trust.  Have customer testimonials included on your website it can boost potential customers’ confidence in you along with the product or service you’re offering.  Remove customer’s risk of buying by including a money back guarantee. Potential customers are apprehensive when it comes to making purchases, so you must put their mind at ease by building their confidence in you and your products/ services.

And now for the Fun Part:  Content

It may sound obvious to most people, but the content of your website should be based on the subject of your product. For example, if your website is set up to sell baby pampers, then it should contain articles about baby pampers, not gardening articles. If you have articles on unrelated subjects, they will only confuse your visitors and undermine your website’s credibility.  Remember you are a source of expertise for you products and services, and credibility is crucial.

How to Strike Keyword Gold

Keywords are words used by search engines in its search for relevant web pages.  For example: you want to buy headphones with great sound quality, you go online and type in the keyword “headphones” in the search box. Instead search for keywords “headphones + Bose + great sound quality” meaning you want specific headphones.  If you were just to search for headphones you would get a myriad of results including articles or press releases.  Pick your keywords carefully.

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Here are some words of advice from Bill Treloar of Rank Magic a SEO Company:

Three Keywords Per Page — Why So Few?

At Rank Magic, we explain to our clients that we’ll optimize as many pages on their websites as they need us to, but only for three keyword phrases per page. For people who are used to SEO (search engine optimization) as it was practiced in the 1990s, this comes as a shock. They think you simply have to place dozens of keywords in your “meta tags” on your home page and that’s it.

Wrong.

Meta tags were so easy to abuse that the search engines hardly look at them now. And Google says it explicitly ignores them. Completely. So what do they look at? Well, content is of great importance. But the single most important place to have your keywords is in your Page Title.

That’s not a title or heading that people can read on your web page, but it’s in the code of your page and shows up on the top blue bar of your web browser. It also shows up as the heading of your listing when you appear in the search engines. When you do a search, the words in your search phrase show up as bold in the websites listed in the results. Take a look at how many of the websites in the top 3 pages have your keywords bold in their headings. Those are their page titles.

The problem with page titles is that they’re limited to 60-80 characters. You’ll notice that in search engine listings, some really long page titles get truncated – possibly in the middle of a word. That means we’ve got to get a page’s keyword phrases into that short 60-80 character page title.

We can count singular/plural keywords as one (blue widgets/blue widget) because the search engines understand about plurals and will treat them as roughly equivalent. But for separate and distinct keyword phrases, we can usually fit no more than three of them into any kind of reasonable page title.
Have too many great keyword phrases to fit? Split your page into multiple pages, and address your content on each to the 2-3 keyword phrases you’ve assigned to it. Often it helps your rankings if there are more pages on your website, as long as the pages provide unique content of value to your target market.

About the Author: Bill Treloar is president of Rank Magic, a consulting firm in East Hanover, New Jersey, specializing in making search engine optimization more efficient and cost effective for small and very small  businesses.

He can be reached at (866) RANK MAGIC or online at www.RankMagic.com.

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As mentioned earlier, the keyword process should be done with a focus on research.  Get online and start typing in keywords relevant to your services/products, look at the search results in Bold, and verify your keywords with the ones that appear the most.

Use this link to find keywords relevant to your niche:

http://freekeywords.wordtracker.com/

Another tip about Keywords in Content Writing

Always use appealing keywords in your content that attract attention or stir up interest. The goal is to get your potential clients to read the rest of your content.

Bear in mind these following keywords when writing your content:

New, How, Why, Free, Save, Fast, Now, Announcing, Introducing, Wanted, Make, Grow, Sale, Limited, Guaranteed and Complimentary.

Make sure the content is key-word rich, with short paragraphs, properly planned out using headers and/or a mission statement for each section making it easy to read and navigate. If people have difficulty figuring out what your website is about, they will move on.  If you have attractive information to share with the viewer, they’ll stay and maybe even purchase from you.

Don’t say the same thing as your competition.  Be Creative and Standout.  When visitors see that you offer more, they will purchase from you.  The world is full of ‘me-too’ companies, (businesses doing the same thing as everyone else).

Be unique.  Be a leader!

Generate sales through effective text formatting

People skim over printed material, looking for what they want to read.  Create your pages with correct grammar and spelling.  Attract the attention of the prospective customer with bold headings and text to ensure that important aspects of your offer stand out. Try to write short paragraphs and use bullets to assist in summarizing a feature/benefit.

A well-crafted business story invites your audience to open a conversation with you, i.e., a line of communication that will eventually lead to a customer and subsequently to a sale.

Something to REMEMBER

In order to create a steady stream of traffic to your website, give your visitors a reason to visit and continue to visit in the future.  You must provide your visitors with fresh content on a continual basis.  Keep your website up to date.

Here’s a cool tip:

You may consider writing a tip of the day and/or week, or modify the content of your website.  When your visitor comes back, the website has a new tip or new information.  Also, have your Blog integrated with your website this gives awesome results.

There are two main reasons to keep your website up to date:

People will get bored and stop coming back if nothing ever changes on your site

Search engines might drop your listing. That’s right! Some search engines check to see if your site is old and musty — if it is, they delete you.

Here are some good ways to keep people coming back to your site time and time again:

Post a monthly newsletter on what’s new about your products/services

Add a blog, bulletin board system, or live chat to your site

Add an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed to automatically give people updates when they occur

Give away something for free eBook, a sample product, report

Run a monthly contest

More tips for web writing

Respect the customer’s intellect. Use grammar that’s easily understood.

Use convincing and simple language that potential customers will understand.

Use simple fonts to get your idea across.  Decorative fonts can be very hard to read and many appear different on many browsers.  The fonts used mostly for the web are Arial, Times Roman and Verdana.  Keep in mind the size, also; no smaller than 10 points and no larger than 14 points.

For more tips and advice on web design check out my ebook “8 (now 9) Easy Steps to your Complete Website” how to communicate with your web designer and get remarkable results, visit http://divinecreativityinc.com/ebook.html