Your Image On “The Net”
by Lori Johnson, Personal Image Consultant and Principal of Your Best Image
Everyone knows, these days you need to have a presence on the Internet. Just putting a website up is not enough. Your site has to load quickly, be easy to navigate, and pleasant to view.
The Internet is all about communication. “The Web” can be an effective marketing and information tool. It is a very useful means to share information with the world.
The main activities of visiting a website are reading text, viewing images, listening to sound and interacting with its interface. Your site development should include a blend of publishing, user interface design, and technology.
What Is The Goal
1. What is the goal for the website? Is it to entertain, provide information, attract new customers, sell products or services, do marketing research or provide customer support? Perhaps it is a combination of many of these things?
2. How does the design and implementation of the site support that goal?
An effective website starts with an evaluation of the clients’ needs and how they can be served through the Web. This should be followed by careful design and planning, then testing, tweaking and improving.
Keep It Interesting
A website loaded with many pages of black and white text is not utilizing the Internet effectively. Long paragraphs of text are hard to read on a computer screen. Try to keep paragraphs to four sentences or less.
There are so many ways to create interest and enhance your site by adding pictures, color, fonts, links, music, voice, etc. But be careful not to go overboard with “stock” photos, fonts, graphics, music, blinking, scrolling, etc. Ask yourself; does the photo, font, graphic, etc. help tell the story? If not, don’t include it. A site with too much going on looks unprofessional and confusing. It also slows download time.
Does Your Site Look Professionally Developed
Your site is a direct reflection on you. Is it projecting the positive, professional image you would like?
Maintain consistency throughout the site. Use the same look and feel with fonts and colors throughout the site.
Be sure the photo and graphics used on your site are professionally done. Digital camera technology has come a long way making it simple to shoot your own photos and insert them in your site. This may be fast, easy, and inexpensive but may be very costly in the end. Your photos are sending a message. If they are poor quality, they may be sending the wrong message about the value of your product or service.
Use color wisely. Dark backgrounds, too many colors, and colors that clash, will make the site look unprofessional. Pick a few colors and stick to them. Use color to convey information or to draw attention.
Keep in mind your site colors will not look the same from one computer to another. Try to use “computer friendly” colors and test them on many different browsers and monitors.
Keep your site current. Websites can easily be updated with the most current information. Change your site often to keep your viewers coming back and to keep you high on the search engine list. Outdated information will lead your viewers to believe you are not keeping up to date.
Make Your Site Easy to Navigate
If someone comes to your site looking for a specific piece of information, how easy is it to locate? Give lots of thought to the roadmap of your site and how the different elements are linked. Find out what your visitors do most often at your site and make that the easiest thing to do.
Make it easy for a visitor to determine what is new and when things were changed. This can be done with graphics, the order of the pages, text, change in color, a revision statement at the bottom of each page, etc.
Don’t make the user guess where to click. The standard web interface uses colors that stand out and are different from the rest of the text to display hypertext links, active buttons, etc. The color should change again to show which links have already been visited.
Tell people who you are, what you do, and how they can contact you, on the first page of your site. If they have to search around your site for this information, they will get frustrated and leave.
Ways to Generate Repeat Visits to Your Site
Change your site often. Announce the changes every chance you get.
Make your site a source of reference material, a list, an index, a database. Become the authoritative source on a particular subject. Share your expertise and experience.
Offer promotions that are only available through your website.
Put your business name or title of your website on every page of your site. You never know which page will be bookmarked. It will be easier to pick you in a list of bookmarks or other lists that use the title on the page.
A Message From Our Website Photographer, Gretje Ferguson
A Good Business Portrait Enhances Your Online Image
The business portrait on your website says more about you than you might realize. I’ve seen beautifully designed, professional websites ruined by muddy, pixilated portraits that are more apt to work against you than for you. If you ask a friend (or the proverbial “Uncle Joe”) to take a snapshot of you with a digital camera because your web designer requests one, the resulting photo may give your customers an unintended message: That you are not detail-oriented, are content with “just good enough,” and don’t care about your image. The subliminal message to your client may be that you won’t care about THEIR image or project.
Do an honest assessment and see if your business portrait says these things about you:
I am approachable.
I am professional.
I am easy to work with.
I take care of my clients and myself.
I understand my clients and their needs.
Your photo should show you in a relaxed, natural-looking pose with a plain backdrop, wearing flattering colors with a simple collar, and, ideally, professional makeup to smooth the skin and emphasize your features. An engaging, well-exposed portrait communicates that you take yourself and your clients seriously.
For more information about Gretje Ferguson Photography, visit her website at: www.gfergphtoto.com.
A Message From Our Web Master, Carolyn Vaughan
To create the best image on your website, there are some basic guidelines to follow. By focusing your time and energy on these aspects of creating or maintaining a website, all other elements of your site will fall into place as your site is created.
Know your Purpose
Having a website without a purpose is like having a boat without a rudder. Floating around aimlessly in an expensive, beautiful yacht might be enjoyable, but it will be useless if you don’t have a rudder to guide it where you want it to go. The purpose for your site will act as your rudder; it will guide the creation and maintenance of your website and produce the results you want.
Plan – Plan – Plan
Once you have determined your purpose, then you can begin asking yourself what you want to have on the site. What do you want to say and how much text do you need to say it? What photos or graphics will help? The more you plan the more effective your website designer will be in creating it.
Clarity and Simplicity
The most effective websites are designed so that they have visual clarity, simplicity, and ease of navigation around the site. Good navigation is like having a good map on a journey. You want your visitors to be able to see at a quick glance what you have available and how to get there with ease.
When you have a clear focus, your website designer will be able to create a positive initial impression on your home page so that it will immediately get the attention of your visitor and will inspire him or her to look further and come back repeatedly.
Work Closely with your Website Designer
Work closely with a website designer in designing your site. You will be partners in this process. With frequent, clear communication, your site will come together as you are visualizing it, with fewer revisions, resulting in less cost to develop.
Have someone, not involved in your business, periodically review your site as you go through the creation process. This will give you a more objective perspective than your own.
The above are the most important guidelines in creating your website. There is much more that goes into the actual creation, but addressing these issues will give the answers to all the other aspects that come up in the process of your creation.
Get More Information
Contact us if you have questions or would like more information about ordering any of the products mentioned. We are always happy to help you develop your best image.
We are dedicated to developing your personal best!
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