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Nov 30 2011

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5 Ways to Make Your Website “Simply” Fabulous

When we land on a web page, we make a lot of assumptions about a company or brand based on whether we like how that site looks and is put together – and we usually aren’t even aware of the factors that fuel our response! These tips will get you started, and you will have a lovely, simple website that will not embarrass you. 

Website Tips for the Do-It-Yourselfer

website1. Use the right font, size, and color for your website

  •  Use Verdana, Arial, Tahoma or Georgia, as these have a consistent appearance across most web browsers. This article uses Tahoma.
  • Make sure your font size is not too small to read, or so large that your website looks amateurish. Use a 10 or 12 sized font.
  • Use black or dark grey text on a white background for maximum contrast.

2. Make website navigation easy

  • Leave lots of white space and use links to make navigation easy.
  • Keep your site tidy and uncluttered. Do not fill every inch of white space with advertisements.
  • Keep the navigation menu simple. Resist the temptation to use complex flash or drop down menus.

3.  Keep the website template simple

  • It was once common to have different colors, fonts and designs throughout different parts of the site. This makes navigation difficult, and makes your site look outdated.
  • Keep the same design, look and feel throughout your website.

4.  Load Quickly!

  • Studies have shown that if your page takes more than 2 seconds to load, then you’re rapidly going to lose visitors. With the availability of public high speed internet connections, people are less tolerant of slow loading pages than ever before.
  • Test your pages on a dial up network. Seriously. There really are people who still use dial up or DSL, and how quickly your site loads at these low speeds is a great indicator of whether it is fast enough to hold visitors’ attention

5.  Make your website “sticky”

  • Related to “load time” is the need to accommodate today’s short attention spans. If visitors cannot see a benefit to staying on your site for more than a few seconds…they won’t!
  • Put all your most important content, navigation links, and most attractive image at the top where they can be easily seen. Keep external links to a minimum, or open them on a new page so that when visitors close the external site, they will still be on your page. Once a visitor leaves your page, they may be enticed by something more compelling and forget your site ever existed.
  • Use apps, widgets, or videos and other interactivity to keep the site interesting, but only enough to enhance content, not distract from it. For example, if you have a Facebook page or Twitter account, you can use widgets that will enable visitors to sample your content from those sources. But avoid animation and excessive flashiness.
  • Provide an opt in box so visitors will get on your list, but don’t make them opt in before they can even see your site. Unless you have something to give them that is so amazing that they will be glad to put their address in to have access to it, this will just annoy them and they will almost always enter a junk email address. Give away something of value that someone will want badly enough to give you their real email address so you can contact them again.

Don’t be disappointed if you use a website builder with stock templates and end up with a site that looks like it was built on a website builder with stock templates.  If you are looking to take your sales, or cause – or whatever it is you have a website for – to the next level, you may wish to hire a professional.

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23 comments

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  1. Chris Lewis  (@Wireless_Geek)

    Excellent tips! Thank you for sharing!
    Chris Lewis  (@Wireless_Geek) recently posted..Job Motivational Quote – 2011.11.30My Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      Thanks, Chris! How’s the job search going?
      SusanCritelli recently posted..Influential Homeschoolers – From Presidents to Pop StarsMy Profile

      1. Chris Lewis  (@Wireless_Geek)

        Hi Susan – A couple new leads this week. Also, I’m expanding my search to new geographical area since the ATL area is getting worse. Thanks!
        Chris Lewis  (@Wireless_Geek) recently posted..Loving LifeMy Profile

  2. Denise Sonnenberg

    Getting started with your own website can be so very confusing. Your article points out the most important things to keep in mind when you are beginning.

    I tell my customers to Just Get Started! Don’t worry about all the bells and whistles to begin with. The beauty of WordPress is that you can change things pretty easily and adapt things as you go along.
    Denise Sonnenberg recently posted..Getting Started with Your Facebook Business PageMy Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      Denise, I am so glad you pointed that out. Joe Schroeder is fond of saying, “You don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going!” And that is so true. WordPress especially has so many gazillion themes to choose from, and plugins and widgets have improved so much in the last few years, that if you find the right theme, there is almost nothing a WordPress blog cannot do. Thanks for commenting!
      SusanCritelli recently posted..NJ Homeschoolers! Your Calls Needed Now to Stop S3105My Profile

  3. Debbie Miller

    Awesome tips, Susan, thank you!
    Debbie Miller recently posted..Lose Your Luggage? Not Anymore.My Profile

  4. Shannon

    I spent months finding a template and then had it customized. Not sure how to check my site on a dial up connection. Do people really still use dial up?
    Shannon recently posted..Happy Cyber Monday!My Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      Shannon, incredibly – yes. There are plenty of people who still use low cost dial up ISPs like Netzero. It might be worth it to subscribe for a month to be able to access the internet at s-l-o-w speeds to test out any websites you have. Alternatively, you could subscribe to Cablevision! :-D

      Seriously, you could subscribe to Netzero now for 3 months at $4.95 a month. Check out this link. That isn’t an affiliate link or anything, but I have had a Netzero address since 1994, which is why I even know what it is! Good luck!
      SusanCritelli recently posted..NJ Homeschoolers! Your Calls Needed Now to Stop S3105My Profile

  5. Mindy Koch @ Social Drivers

    I have to improve my site load time. And frankly, I am not in love with how my site looks. Good reminders, Susan!! I need to look at the mechanics of my site for sure!
    Mindy Koch @ Social Drivers recently posted..Social Media Blogger Pain in the Neck WarningsMy Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      Well, not for nothing, your site is new and part of your social media experiment. And your content is so stunning that maybe it is good that you don’t have any flashy anything at all on your site to distract people from your message.

      However, if it is true that we have some kind of subliminal response to the way a site looks that helps us decide to stay there, then perhaps after you have had a chance to digest the data you are gathering from your experiment, you can think about what you might want to do about changing the look and feel, if it seems warranted. I can help with that :-)

      LOAD TIME, however, is critical. Usually images are the problem. My site doesn’t load on slower machines or ISPs like I would like it to, but I have FIOS – so between that and the cache, my site blazes up and I may have a distorted view of how it is for others. I have been using Optiview since 1997, when I was webmaster for my son’s world famous (no kidding) Godzilla page. They have a tool to test your internet connection and you can also optimize your images online just by going to http://www.optiview.com.
      SusanCritelli recently posted..Facebook vs. Google + – What’s Your Preference?My Profile

  6. Steve Hughes

    Love the new site Susan…and the thanks for the tips…
    Steve Hughes recently posted..PROskore – Businesses for BusinessesMy Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      Thanks Steve, I signed up for ProSkore – not sure what I think yet, though it actually seems to be a little closer to reality than Klout. Thanks for letting me know about it!
      SusanCritelli recently posted..Here We Go Again! 9th Circuit Outlaws Banners Mentioning “God”My Profile

  7. Sukhraj Beasla

    Well you obviously know a lot about these tips because your website looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing!
    Sukhraj Beasla recently posted..The non-traditional ThanksgivingMy Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      Thanks, Suki – your opinion is valued! I am so glad your Comment Luv link is to that great article about your Indian Thanksgiving. The photos make the food look so delicious! We used to have dear friends across the street who were from Bangalore, and they made the most fabulous meals for us!
      SusanCritelli recently posted..Am I the only one who has a hard time blogging regularly?My Profile

  8. Original Articles Directory

    Simply great tips. Thanks for sharing these with us!

  9. Debra Eckerling

    Great tips, Susan! Points to everything someone needs to know about starting their website in an easy format!

    Can I add one more? When you are thinking through your website, do research. Make a list of what website you like and why … and the ones you do not like … so you have a list of do’s and don’t from the get go!
    Debra Eckerling recently posted..Poll Results: High School CounselorMy Profile

    1. SusanCritelli

      What a great idea! I bet if we did that we would see a pattern of what kinds of graphics and colors we like appearing in our list again and again – fonts, styles, layouts. You don’t even really have to “research”, per se, just keep a notepad open while you are browsing and copy and paste URLs. Thanks for your reply!

  10. Elle

    Oooh these are some great basics. Like, Mindy, I need to improve the site load time on some of my sites!

  11. Wilber Hundertmark

    cool site. Thanks for the info!

  12. Rebecca T

    Really great post Susan. Excellent points to go back and check ones site against.

  13. Matches Malone

    Great stuff as always, Susan. Keep up the great work, and there will always be a place for you on Team 33 ;)
    Matches Malone recently posted..Four Weeks Later….My Profile

  14. Bob Warren

    Have a Fantastic Friday!

  15. Sally K Witt, Social Media and Ministry

    Very good information, Susan. Starting a website or blog can be hard, and good advice is needed!
    Sally K Witt, Social Media and Ministry recently posted..I am SICK and want my MOMMY!My Profile

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