Take a look at your site – Are you ready for change?

The thing I like most about fall is how everything changes. The leaves, the sunsets, the days, the activities and the people.

Obviously the things you can’t see are the ones that give way to the change of people. What does that mean exactly? When you think of fall, other than the colors, can’t you feel the cool crisp air, smell the fires burning in the fireplaces, think of snuggling under warm covers? These things all change people; even if it’s just seasonal. Somehow it makes us more loveable, trustworthy and even sociable. You want to get outside and have barbeques, have sack races, go camping and sit around toasting marshmallows and making smores!

Do you also know that people “feel” things when they visit your site? Colors, typography, pictures and even placement of things can dictate immediately, and subconsciously, how a person feels about your company. Crazy isn’t it? Let’s take a look at the top 10 sites, dig into the top five, and you’ll see what I mean.

Fall Leaf

Number 1 – Of course Google. when you visit Google.com you are instantly greeted with the logo up top and the search bar front and center. There are additional menu items up at the top to manage your account, if you have one.  The background colors are whatever you choose, thanks to the custom settings of Chrome and the design is stark and unobtrusive. You find the content you need right away (which is the search bar).

Number 2 – You guessed it! YouTube. Upon loading this page, you have pops of RED to draw your eye where the site wants you to go. There is also a live header at the top to draw you in to what is paid content for you to see. It works huh? The FIXED left side navigation makes it quick and easy to access the areas you need and stays put no matter how far down the page you scroll.

Number 3 – Facebook. Well this is an easy one. It’s blue and white; the corporate dress code. Blue and white in a website are found to be the most neutral to ever gender in every occupation. I guess that works. Top main navigation, corner logo and left side personal navigation makes it a very sensible 2-column layout.

Number 4 – Yahoo. Chances are you know what Yahoo is. It’s safe to say you probably know at least 5 people who have a yahoo email address. Although upon first look at yahoo, it seems overwhelming. However, if you look at the basic layout of the home page, it’s really quite simple. Left side navigation, top corner logo (I see a pattern here) and a top navigation of quick links that are most likely the most visited areas.

Number 5 – Amazon. Who hasn’t ordered from Amazon? Did you find shopping was easy? Clean layout? Amazon also has that top corner logo, the top navigation and a flyout side navigation when you are shopping by department. They chose all white to keep the focus on the products and not their design. Smart. Very smart.

Here’s the rest of the list::

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 12.55.52 PM

 

shutterstock_58458289So what are the common factors with ALL of these websites?

  • the logo is quickly visible (brand recognition)
  • the navigation is easily accessible (ease of use)
  • the layout is clear and concise (keeps you on the site longer)

 

Another fact I’d like to point out is that every one of these brands has a one word domain name. This is crucial to your brand recognition, new customers and customer retention (remembering your name/website). Keep it short and sweet and make it make sense. You can always add subdomains later!

  • For example…instead of louisemarshasmithwarnerphotography.com choose louisemswphotography.com or even shorter at lmswphoto.com.
  • Instead of thelawofficesofsmithjohnsonvalorstacey.com choose thelawyersdowntown.com or simply lawyerssjvs.com The easier the name(s) (or acronyms) is/are to remember, the easier it will be for potential clients to find you.

 

Back to your site…It’s time for you to take the quiz. Ask yourself these questions and it will tell you if your site needs an overhaul. Better yet, ask your friends, family and customers to take the quiz for you! Unbiased feedback is priceless!

  1. Is your website up to date? Has it been updated with recent information, photos and contact information within the last 3 years? It’s a good idea to update and redesign your site at least every 2-3 years. It’s extremely important to make little changes through the years, especially if someone no longer works there, contact information has changed or you’ve moved.
  2. Do you still have flash on your site? Is your site responsive? There’s nothing wrong with a little excitement on your site, but it should be coded correctly. In this age of all these cell phones, tablets and other media devices, it’s crucial that your audience can actually see your site on these devices. Flash is not friendly with mobile devices and I’m not sure it ever will be. You are losing potential customers if your site can’t been seen.
  3. Do you have links to your social media sites? Do you socialize on the media sites? If you aren’t promoting your business on social media you are losing a potentially HUGE market…for FREE. You can even automatically publish your content from your site to your facebook, twitter, linkedin and other media sites! This keeps everything update in one swoop!
  4. Does your site play music automatically when you visit it? If so, say goodbye to 2004. Unless you are headed for a music career, your site should never auto play music OR videos. This is distracting and often embarrassing (think of those accessing your site at their job or in a public place) when visiting a site. Your goal is to keep your audience glued to your site, not scrambling for the fastest way to close it out!
  5. Is your site clean and does it have a navigation above the fold? The fold is simply where MOST users screen cuts off before you have to scroll. Not everyone has a gigantic monitor on their computer or laptop. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep the navigation simple, in the same place on each page and above the fold.

If these sound all too familiar, it could be time for a new site. We live in a digital era that’s not going away any time soon. Embrace it and it could have positive lasting impacts on your business.

Have questions? I’d love to answer your questions! Email me anytime!

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