A few tips and tricks to help improve your web presence
Keep it simple. Simplify your website content.
First impressions are hugely important. When people visit your web site, you have seconds to convince them to stay and explore. On your homepage, keep it simple, explain what you do and what makes your business different from your competitors. Showcase the most important thing/s you want to tell the user when they visit each web page. If a web site has too much information on a page, it can often be confusing for the user. Additionally, Search Engines often prefer separate topics as it sees this as more relevant to the user.
Keeping a structured simple page allows you to visually highlight important ‘calls to action’, including action buttons or contact details such as your telephone number and email address. You may want to highlight them using colour, fonts or icons. ‘Calls to action’ elements need to stand out in order get your website users to do something.
Get personal. Show you’re human.
There are a number of ways to create a personal connection with your website users/potential clients. Use photographs of yourself and any employees, with a biography (this can be very short), and testimonials from happy clients to build trust and familiarity. Make sure your business address and phone numbers are displayed on your contact page, users like being able to contact you easily and know where you are located.
Using words like ‘you’, ‘we’ and ‘us’ can help engage clients and make them feel valued. For example, ‘we are very pleased to share this exclusive offer with you: receive 20% off your next purchase’.
Add videos or photographs to your website/blog to showcase what you and your company get up to. Let users see that you are a part of the community and that you are someone that they can relate to. Post a range of images or videos from various community and business events you and your company attend or are involved in. For example; take photos at your networking event, group outing, charity event or presentation and post them on your website/blog, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook.
Write a blog and build trust with your potential clients as a thought leader in your industry. Writing a blog takes time but the results can be amazing. Ensure you research the topics your audience is interested in and keep the content simple so all users can understand (try not to use industry abbreviations and acronyms). Share your personal story as it relates to how you got involved in the business, industry trends, company news and address any FAQ’s that your clients often ask about etc. And don’t forget to share your blog posts via your chosen Social Media platforms.
Colour is key. Using the right colours on your website
Colour is very important when it comes to designing a website, colour isn’t used simply for aesthetic reasons; it has meaning. Whether a subtle hint or a bright patterned background, the right colour scheme can really catch a user’s attention. Every colour evokes a different feeling or mood and therefore can result in a different reaction when seeing the colour. For example, if you have a ‘call to action’ on your web page, you want it to stand out. For larger buttons, choose a colour that is less prominent (relative to surrounding elements/background) and for smaller buttons you may want to choose a brighter colour. But whatever colour you choose, make sure the design of the button is noticeable without interfering with the overall design. If you’re designing your website/blog yourself, be careful when setting text and background colours. For web usability it is extremely important that readability is preserved. Many page designers are tempted to use light colours on light backgrounds or dark colours on dark backgrounds. For example, grey text on a black background might look fabulous on your monitor, but if the gamma value varies on another person’s monitor, it can be unreadable.
To avoid colour contrast problems, white and black are reliable, and red is common for highlighting items and ‘call to action’ elements. The best colour combination in terms of contrast is yellow and black, but this would give your website users a headache!
Another aspect of colour and usability to consider is the variation of visual capabilities in web users. Human colour perception varies hugely, users with vision that is somewhat colour-deficient are often unable to differentiate between colours of similar hue when those colours are of the same lightness and saturation. Someone with the most common colour deficiency, red-green colour blindness, would have trouble seeing the difference between red and green when the red and green are close in saturation and lightness. This can be a problem on the web if links are similar in hue, lightness, and saturation. For example, it maybe difficult for a user with colour blindness to determine which links have been visited and which have not. If colour is being used to highlight a web page element, try to use an alternative that indicates importance, for example, using a bold font, a large font or capital letters.
It’s all about the image. Finding ‘safe’ images for your website or blog
Many people use images found on Google and other websites for their own website or blog, in many cases, they may be breaking the law due to copywriting restrictions. It is very easy to find free and cost effective options to avoid getting into trouble:
Take your own photos
Request Press images. Contact PR agencies or designers who have their own collections and may want the promotion.
There are many stock photography websites, offering millions of royalty-free stock photos, illustrations, and vectors at various sizes and resolution. My main preferences are shutterstock.com and istockphoto.com. You can find some fantastic quality photos, and many have the option to download them in press quality, should you decide you need them in printed matter.
Use public domain images
Public domain images are often very old and their copyright may have expired, or they have no copyright at all and are owned by us, the public.
Flickr has a fantastic project entitled ‘The Commons’. Under ‘The Commons,’ cultural institutions that have reasonably concluded that a photograph is free of copyright restrictions are invited to share these photographs under their new usage guideline called ‘no known copyright restrictions.’ Check them out: http://www.flickr.com/commons/usage/
Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons licence: http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/. But be careful, not all photos on Flickr are free to use. Some of them are marked ‘All Rights Reserved’ and you need to get permission to use them. The ones marked ‘Some Rights Reserved’ are usually under the Creative Commons licence. There are a few licensing options under the Creative Commons licence to become accustomed to:
- Attribution 2.0 Generic: Share (use), alter, crop the images, and you MUST credit the photographer.
- Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic: Share (use) remix, alter, crop the images, and you MUST credit the photographer, and you cannot use these for commercial purposes.
- Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic: Share (use) the photos but you cannot alter, crop or write on them. You MUST credit the photographer.
- Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic: Share (use) the photos but you cannot alter, crop or write on them. You MUST credit the photographer. You cannot use these for commercial purposes.
This may sound confusing, but Flickr makes it very easy. Each image has a copyright description and Flickr provides a description of each licence, so you can be sure you are using the images correctly.