Your DIY Website: Can it be improved?

DIY

Do it yourself websites have come a long way. Now more than ever, you can design a beautiful website yourself for much less than the cost of a graphic designer (sorry graphic designer friends! I know these template websites don’t compare to custom coding but not everyone can afford you off the hop). That being said: You want to make sure that you are getting the most out of your DIY website, that you are appealing to the public and that you are being received as a professional company!

I’ve compiled a list of what I believe to be the top ten DIY website building areas of focus:

1) ANALYTICS

“Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources and measures conversions and sales.” – wiki

YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO IS VISITING YOUR SITE! You want to know how long they are staying, what pages they like/dislike, where they live, their language and more. The information that you can collect FOR FREE will help direct your advertising efforts (so you know where to target) it will help you measure your efforts and outlines your ROI. Get yourself a Google account and sign your site up for Google analytics. www.google.ca/analytics/

The website builder you use will have an analytics section in its settings. Once you are set up and given your analytics number- you simply copy and paste the number into the setting. If you don’t know where that is? Type ‘Analytics ‘into their HELP search area.

2) MUSIC

Don’t have automatic music. A large percentage of people surfing the web are at work taking a break and the last think they need is your chosen song to start blasting in their office and have everyone KNOW that they are taking a break. Best believe they will be closing off your site ASAP and probably aren’t going to return. If you want music on?-that’s fine! Just don’t have it on auto-play, give people the option to play it at their own leisure.

3) IMAGES

If you are going to ‘borrow’ an image from a search engine- make sure you give credit where it is due and make sure your image makes sense- no pink martini glasses just because you think the colour matches your real estate business’s logo.

Make sure that you label your images properly when you upload them so that when a user’s mouse goes over it, it doesn’t read gibberish/ the file name. Describe the pictures as best you can to relate to your business so that you increase your SEO (search engine optimization).

Pixilation is the worst. Please don’t publish blurry photos! A trick is to size the image to what you want before uploading it rather than resizing it online.

4) SPELLING & GRAMMAR

No one expects you to be a top notch editor- people do however, expect you to be somewhat grammatically correct and for your spelling to be correct. Ask family and friends to look over your written work before you post. I like to write all of my work in word so obvious spelling errors will be highlighted (grammar isn’t that easy).

5) LESS IS MORE

Lay off the million banners, boxes, pictures, information- you may scare off a visitor. You have three seconds to make a good impression- use it wisely. Personally I like when the homepage is short but sweet and doesn’t involve a lot of scrolling down and definitely never scrolling to the sides.

Oh! Your DIY builder offers groovy animations for your site? DON’T DO IT! Clip-art emoticons are not the way to go… no matter what, that dancing smiley face holding a fishing rod doesn’t fit into a professional site. (Sorry)

6) CONTACT INFORMATION IS CORRECT

Your company contact information, make sure your employee information is up to date, your social media handles haven’t changed… actually- just make sure all of your information is correct.

That’s better.

7) CHECK YOUR LINKS

Does your email hyperlink work? Does your social media handle direct properly? External links- are the correct? ALWAYS check your links. Clicking and being directed to a null page is irritating.

8) FONT

Stay away from too many fonts. Make sure your font is not too big, not too small. (If you are targeting senior citizens? Bump up the font size to make it easier to read). Stay away from neon colours, rainbow colours, bright yellow on black (I personally despise solid black website backgrounds, my eyes feel like they are going to burn out.) Ideally (according to my graphic designer friends) you should use two no more than three fonts.

9) WEBSITE ADS

There are plenty of free website builders- if you want to be taken seriously, buy their upgraded package so you diminish the ads that you get if you use the free option (plus you don’t get a personalized domain name with the free package- personalized domains are a must).

The price ranges from $50-$200 and it is worth every penny. “Create your own free website” splattered all over your site doesn’t say commitment to me. Not to mention sometimes you have no control over the ads being posted! You are selling cute fuzzy Christmas crafts and XXX ads could be tarnishing the reputation you are trying to build. (Maybe not XXX ads, but you get my drift.)

10) TAKE YOUR TIME

Time is money- yes- but if you are going to build your own site I hope you are somewhat computer literate and will be able to maneuver through the site options. Take your time and see what your site builder has to offer before really getting started. Also- you don’t have to publish your site off the hop. Save your work and publish it when you are ready. Take your time and label everything correctly. Fill in all the blanks in your page settings so you increase your SEO and are user friendly.

Take note that I am not a graphic designer– I don’t claim to be. I am a DIY site builder, a website user and a corporate communications graduate who knows that this top ten list makes a world of difference.

Crystal Lengua

The Launch Party & Why I love it.

Launch Party!

Everyone loves a party- right? It brings people together, creates memories and celebrates an occasion… that is exactly why I believe a launch party for your business is so important. Now there are some nay-sayers and that’s ok! Some people may say they are a waste of time or money, that they are pointless or a thing of the past. Well- You can’t please everyone all of the time now can you?

You don’t need a huge budget.

It doesn’t have to be a black tie affair. It can be in your living room! In your workspace! Places that you already have so you aren’t paying fees. Even restaurants will allot side-rooms if they have them available (and if you have the budget to order their food).  Get a cake- you can have your logo printed on icing and placed on it- your supermarket may do it, I know Dairy Queen does. Grab some branded coloured balloons and dollar store streamers, some finger food and a bottle of champagne. VOILA! A party under $150 that is going to set the tone for your new adventure. An enthusiastic and motivated tone.

Now, if you can afford more? By all means. Make the party yours. Rather than email or facebook an invitation? Maybe you will have them printed? You can have a raffle and draw prizes? Maybe instead of celebrating with your friends and family you can invite clients/customers (If you are launching a re-brand I do recommend you invite your larger accounts). You can have a themed party if the shoe fits or have a sit down dinner if you prefer. THE POINT IS- Have something. Be excited. Make it branded- it is meant to reflect your company’s style and don’t forget to have a small speech ready- you want to address your party from a personal standpoint.

SO who should you invite?

At the bare minimum- your close friends and family.  Ideally? You want to invite existing or potential clients as well- but that isn’t always realistic when working with a small business budget. If you want/can you could reach out to the local media and hope for coverage. A simple press release could be picked up especially in a smaller town where a new business/service is beneficial to the community.

Some inexpensive launch party ideas:

  • Bring your laptop & have your website open so that people can browse your site
  • Have printed material for people to bring home & share with their circles (Business Cards, magnets, brochures or branded pens)
  • Informative postcards for takeaway (vistaprint.ca has great prices)
  • Make sure you have background music or some type of entertainment to alleviate any awkward silence
  • Perhaps you took pictures to document your start-up journey? Why not show them in a slideshow
  • Create a hashtag for your event and encourage guests to post on their social media
  • An inexpensive “swag” takeaway for your guests! Something as small as a branded stress ball or paperweight… again- check online, you can find deals!
  • GAMES! Networking games, Bingo type games- conversation starters are fun for large crowds who may not know each other.
  • Take pictures & share them with your social media community! Get them excited too.
  • Maybe have a branded photo-op backdrop on a wall for a red carpet experience!

Overall I believe in positive energy. I believe that you get from this world what you put into it and that if you maintain a realistic upbeat energy aura- you will become contagious. I believe that energy is infectious and that when you are excited about something, it shines through, it radiates! So why not throw a party (no one said it has to break the bank) to showcase your excitement, get that positive energy on the tail of your business and ride with it?! Start your adventure with positivity, excitement and be proud of what you are about to embark on. Show the public that you believe in your vision and they will believe in it too.

-Crystal Lengua