Make a good first impression: Designing Your Website

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By Tricia Allenson

When it comes to facing the cold hard truth that your business absolutely needs a website to survive in this web-based world, we can look to the timeless wisdom of vintage shampoo commercials for guidance. By which, we mean, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”; a good website can make or break your business, and design is the foundation of a knockout website that’ll grow your business and put you head and shoulders (see what we did there?) above your competitors.

If you’re not sure where to begin building your company’s online presence, don’t worry – we’re here to help, beginning with three surefire paths to approaching design for your website:

Start Where You Are

What is your current marketing and branding plan? How are you getting the word out about your business? If you are relying on word-of-mouth, or if your business card is actually just your phone number scribbled on the back of someone else’s card, you should take some time to think about your company’s purpose before you throw yourself into website design.

The answers to the questions of who your customers are, and what need of theirs you are uniquely able to satisfy, will inform every decision that goes into the design of your website. The more you know about your customers and their needs, the easier it will be to launch your site. Even if you make the wise decision to go with a professional to design and write the content for your site, (more on that in a minute) you will still need to be able to communicate the impression you want to make to visitors of your site.

Use What You Have

You didn’t build your business without some kind of a plan, so neither should you develop your company's website by the proverbial seat of your pants. You don't have to know every detail, and you don't need to be the next Thomas Kinkade, but pre-design sketching is essential to the design of your website.

Decide what pages you’ll need to include on your site and how you’ll want them to look. In addition to cornerstone pages like your About Us, Services and Contact pages, you may want to add features like a blog, or a page for testimonials from satisfied customers.
For inspiration and ideas, write down what you like about sites you enjoy visiting and check out your competitor's websites to see how they structure theirs.

And while it’s great to have specific ideas about look and content, don’t forget to leave a little wriggle room for development and growth; keep in mind that second drafts are almost always better than the first!

Do What You Can (Do Well)

As a business owner, once you have your blueprint in hand, you might be considering doing all your own coding or contacting your nearest tech-savvy friend or relative to put the finishing touches on your design. While we admire the ingenuity, we must urge you to hire professionals to help you plan and launch your site.

Not only are professional designers experts at what they do, but they also keep up with trends and concepts that can make your site shine. A good designer is your secret weapon for making your website effective and memorable. However, they can’t do it alone: you will still need to communicate clearly so that you get exactly what you want. So, your last step in the design process is to express your expertise to your hired guns; after all, no one knows more about your business than you.

Hopefully, we haven't scared you off from doing the hard but very worthwhile work of designing your website. If you'd like a hand in taking this vital step for your business, give us a shout by visiting our site and scheduling a visit. Limelight Marketing Systems is here to make you look good, and we consider it our privilege to help small businesses like yours reach new heights.