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Credibility on the Web

August 4, 2008

(Part 2)

Since so many business owners are popping up and creating their own businesses from templates I will add a few do’s and don’ts about designing a website. Any good web designer should know this, so use it as criteria to evaluate their web designs or in designing one yourself. If you can afford a web designer – don’t do it yourself! There is much behind the scenes “stuff” that will be missed in a templated site.

Business websites should have a consistent theme or feel so the viewer knows they are still on the same website. Templates provide this – however there are a whole slew of sites out there that just scream that they are templates. If you must use them do so, but plan to have a professional designer do your site as soon as practical. And make sure that whatever domain name you choose you can take with you, that it is not the property of someone else.

Spelling, punctuation, grammar and font choice are all very important. The web is no place for typos. Have as many fresh eyes as possible go over your site and critique it.

Many people are fond of a particular font or like to change things up. Limit your website to no more than 2 fonts. It should be noted, however that for legibility on the web, a non-serif font is best. This would include Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet, Tahoma and Calibri to name a few. If you use a different, more decorative font, limit it to Titles and headings. By using it sparingly it says more – also realize if you use a lesser known font, it will not necessarily show up for all users as the font you want. Prepare for this contingency.

If this is a strictly business site, leave off the advertisements and web banners. If you do use them, make sure it is clear that it is advertisement separate from your site. Likewise if you include Links or affiliates, be sure they are appropriate to your industry and your audience and leave them on a page labeled Links.

Make sure the content is fresh and updated on a regular basis. If it shows “old news” it quickly loses credibility. An example happened to me recently. A friend decided she wanted a German Shepherd Puppy. I Googled German Shepherd Dog Breeders in her area and came up with several possibilities. One site stood out above the rest, until I read about the most recent litter of puppies born just last week. The date on the photo was 14 months earlier. I passed and moved on. If you don’t care about your site, you don’t care about your customers.

Creating a web presence that has credibility is the first step in creating credibility for you business. Websites have become the platform that most people use to research a business. Make sure yours stands out, is believable and creates the image that you can be proud of.

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