I recently took on a new client who said they wanted a website for their company. We met, talked, signed the contract and all was good and well and perfect in the world. Until they got home and realized that they didn’t have a clue what they wanted to do and started getting lost in the process.
This is not an unusual development. Setting up a website for your company can be a daunting proposal, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to have a huge website to be successful, although your site could well grow into that. But at the beginning, as someone once said, 99% of success is just showing up. So in my next few posts I’m going to try to destress things and just give you the basics of what you should be doing and looking at. And the first point is:
If you’re going to stress out about anything, stress out about the content, not about the style.
Vincent Flanders runs a website called “Websites That Suck.” And one of his themes is one that I only halfway agree with: Nobody cares about your website. I think people do care but his point is that you have to make your website for your customer’s needs and not your own. Brian Halligan of HubSpot even went so far as to say that no one cares what your website looks like. I won’t go that far, but I will make two points that go hand in hand.
1: In all my years of doing this, I have never, ever, once seen anyone decide to do business with a company because they had a “cool” website.
… and, on the other hand,
2: I have often seen people NOT do business with a company because they had a website that was difficult to use.
So, if you remember anything I’m saying here yoday it’s this: Content is king. Style is secondary.
We’ll get back to content later, but for now let’s look at style. People are going to be turned off by a bad style, but the rules for styling a simple, beginning website are simple and few. And they are:
1: Use clean, appropriate, inviting graphics. No pictures of the CEO’s cat. And make sure the graphics are sharp and not fuzzy. I always tell my clients, when they’re sending pictures, to send them as big as possible. (You can use Dropbox or a Google Drive is they’re too big and won’t email.) I can shrink down a big picture so it comes out nice. But despite what those guys at NCIS do, there’s no way to blow up a small picture so it comes out pixel perfect.
2. Use easy to read, grammatically correct text. And by “easy to read” I mean two things. First, make sure you don’t get too technical and pretend that your customer doesn’t know ANYTHING about your business at all. Secondly, it should be physically easy to read. No goofy fonts, no teeny tiny fonts, and make sure the font color is readable against your background color and doesn’t cause too much eyestrain. And I usually recommend against putting text on top of a background picture. There are just too many variables to deal with and something is going to get lost.
3. Intuitive, easy to use navigation. Web designer Steve Krug wrote a book whose title I subscribe to. It was called “Don’t Make Me Think.” His theme is that the more people have to puzzle out how to use your website, the less they will be interested in what you have to offer. There are studies that say that you only have seven seconds to get people interested in you through your website. If 6 of those seconds are spent trying to figure out how to work your site, that leaves you very little time to make the sale.
And that’s really it! There’s just not that much to it as far as starting to create your site. If you follow those three basic steps, you’re well on your way!