Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Make Your Corporate Website Design A Winner

by Akhil Shahani

An impressive website will go a long way in creating a killer first impression about your company. A few simple tricks make the difference between a good corporate website design and a great one. Here are 10 tips to consider, before you hire that web designer:

Establish goals

Often, your website is the first point of contact for your customers. Therefore, the most critical part of corporate web design is to establish the impact the website must have on visitors. Do you want to close a sale, generate a database or provide information? The corporate website design process must support this goal.

Remember who you're talking to

If you're in the business of selling kids' storybooks, a stuffy looking website with big words is a strict no-no. If your website is directed at your trade partners, make sure that information on products, distribution and partnerships is easy to find.

Value their time

When was the last time you waited patiently for a flash intro to download? Remember that lots of web surfers still use low speed modems of 28K or 56K. Your first page is the most important, make sure visitors get there quickly and stay.

A site map is a great idea, especially if you have lots to say. Someone who quickly finds what he or she is looking for is more likely to return.

Make it enjoyable

Good corporate website design is all about avoiding customer pain points. Stay away from irritants like music (unless you're in that business), Java pop-ups and redirects to other pages. If you need to have any of these for some unfathomable reason, make sure there's an option to turn it off.

Make it look good

That's the whole game, right? A smart website will make the business, however small, look good. The corporate website design process must blend aesthetic elements and create a distinct visual identity. Ensure that your logo gets due respect and the usage of colors and other details are in keeping with company image. Tickers are tacky unless they're mean to display dynamic information like stock quotes.

Make it sound good

Web copy is an art by itself. Most web surfers have limited attention spans and will move on quickly if your website doesn't come straight to the point. While developing your corporate website design, devote special care to the copy. Does it say all you want, quickly and clearly? Is it well written, and free of spelling and grammatical errors? If there's too much content, it's a good idea to split it across two pages - no one likes to scroll down too long, and never from side to side!

Keep it simple

A consistent and instinctive layout works best. No one appreciates having to "learn" how to navigate each page. Menus on the top and left-hand side have stood the test of time.

Make sure it works

Before you announce your website to the world, check that it works on all browsers. Remember what it's like not to find that newly advertised lipstick on the shelves - well, a website that doesn't show up is a similar feeling!

Design a 404

You might wonder at this one - but it would be useful if your corporate web design process also included a custom 404 page. Standard "page not found" messages are such a yawn and leave the users wondering whether their Internet connection really works. Instead, let your visitors know that they've reach the right site, but not the right page. Include a link back to the home page or site map.

Don't mess with your visitor

Invasion of the worst kind! Some designers will use JavaScript to automatically resize the user's window so that the website looks best. Avoid doing that if you don't want to lose all your visitors. Instead, decide what window size and resolution is likely to work best for you, but remember you can't be everything to everyone. Using a resolution of 800x600 is still a good idea.

The website design decision is an important one, and you have several ways to approach it. Professional web designers abound, and some like LogoWorks® www.logoworks.com specialize in corporate website design for small businesses. If you're the creative or do-it-yourself type, you might like to use ready templates, like those offered by Design Galaxy www.designgalaxy.net or Template Monster www.templatemonster.com .

About the Author

Hi, I'm Akhil Shahani, a serial entrepreneur who wants to help you succeed. If you like to work smart, check out http://www.SmartEntrepreneur.net . It's full of articles and resources to help you start and grow your business successfully. Please visit us & download our special "Freebie of The Month" at http://www.smartentrepreneur.net/freebie-of-the-month.html