Virtual Storefronts: Make Your Web Site Just as Welcoming

As a freelance Web writer and consultant, I would be remiss if I didn't extend the sort of advice from my previous post to the world online businesses. After all, for many small businesses, a strong online presence is just as important, if not more, than the physical storefront. And this goes for both businesses that sell products or services online and those that use their site strictly as an informational calling card. Saidandsung's Top 3 Tips for Making Your Web Site Welcoming:

1. Be Complementary

When creating a Web site for the first time, some business owners think that the more colorful their home page, the better. This is almost always not the case. In fact, having too many colors on a page can come across as amateurish, or worse, non-legitimate. Instead, choose colors that match your branding. A common place to start is with your logo — are the colors in your logo conducive to an attractive Web page? You only need one or two major colors, and the rest can be complementary shades from those color families.

If your logo is bold or outlandish in and of itself (and you don't wish to do a redesign), then choose a shade from one of the logo's colors and see how that works. You want something professional-looking and soothing to the eyes. Along those lines, I caution you to use the color red sparingly. Red is attention-grabbing, for sure, but can also be hard on the eyes. Definitely do not use red for your text color, as it wears on the eyes and is also the standard color of error messages.

A good Web designer knows all of these things and can work with you to find a pleasing look for your online storefront.

2. The Font of All Knowledge

The same principle from tip #1 can be applied to your choice of text fonts. Sure, employing a variety of fonts on your site can change things up and let the site visitor know where to look, but I'm talking 2 different fonts, 3 at the most. Having too fonts many can again signal amateurishness, but more importantly, can undermine any chance for a cohesiveness to your site's overall look and feel.

Choosing a font should be based on a number of considerations, but here are a couple basics. Again, start with your logo and see if the font used in it is something you'd like to see throughout the site. However, make sure it's legible; some fonts look great in size 72 type, but are complete chicken scratch when you reduce them for use as body text.

Another important consideration when choosing a font is the kind of tone you're trying to project as your personal business style. Generally speaking (and there are always exceptions), the more conservative business should favor a professional-looking serif font (like Times New Roman or Georgia), and the slicker, more easygoing business can go with a streamlined sans serif font (like Helvetica or Tahoma). And any good designer will let you know if the font you're interested in is supported in all Web browsers. With so many to choose from, work together with your designer to find the one that suits your business best.

3. State Your Message Clearly & Succinctly

Nothing is more frustrating than to arrive at a company's Web site and not know what kind of business it is. If your logo doesn't have a built-in graphical clue to your business or a brand slogan, then be sure to state somewhere in a prominent header what type of business you are and/or what service you provide. The intro copy on your home page should clearly state these things in a concise yet engaging way, and should invite you to either "click here to contact us," or "read more on our such-and-such page ..."

Keeping your home page copy spare and employing "read more" links will draw your potential customers in, and make them click to other pages on your site to find the information they are seeking. And remember, pictures can be even more powerful than text in saying what kind of company you are. If you have a product, show it on your home page; if it's a service you provide (like landscaping, for example), then show pictures of a job well done (a nicely manicured lawn or flowers, to illustrate the landscaping example).

There are so many more considerations to make when creating a Web site to showcase your business — more than I can mention in a digestible blog entry. Just know I'm available to assist you, so call or e-mail me today talk about your online project!

Thanks for reading,