Five Ways to Give Your Web Site a Big-Company Look and Feel
We all DO judge a book by its cover, and the same saying goes for Web sites. Iíve
seen many entrepreneurs offer great information on their Web pages, but compromise
their image dramatically with a few amateur mistakes that can be VERY unforgiving.
If you want to attract high quality clients and customers, and convey that youíre
a legitimate, credible, and sought-after business, these five points are a great
launching pad to give your site that "big company" look and feel.
1. Start with a high-quality LOGO.
The one your kid created for you doesnít count! Iím talking about paying a designer
to do one for you, and it doesnít have to cost in the thousands. If you donít have
much of a budget, consider the following options:
For my E-zine Queen site, I used an online logo service called "1800MyLogo"
www.1800mylogo.com. At the time
they charged only $199 to design a professional logo based on my business, style,
and personal preferences. The whole process only took about two weeks and was
conducted entirely over the Web. (To see the final result, take a quick peek at
Iíve also heard good things about
www.gotlogos.com, where you can get a quick Web site logo for only $25!
2. Get your own business DOMAIN NAME.
Itís just a fact that folks will feel safer shopping at a site with its own domain
name. For example, if you were shopping online for a circular saw, would you be more
likely to purchase from a hardware site called "www.bobshardware.com" or the one
whose URL is "www.geocities.com/3339/bobshardware?" (This is a fictional example,
by the way.)
Having your own domain name implies youíre a "real" company, and not Uncle Bob
working in his kitchen at night (even though you my very well be). There are several
"bargain basement" places to buy domain names, but the two most popular and credible
are still: www.register.com
3. Get (and USE) a business E-MAIL ADDRESS.
Nothing screams "amateur" like sending out professional e-mail from a handle like
"firstname.lastname@example.org." Once you get a domain name for your Web site, have your
hosting company set up a professional e-mail alias for you.
Letís go back to Bob, for example. Suppose Bobís e-mail has always been
"BobSmith0002@earthlink.net." Now that he has his own domain name, he can instead
use "email@example.com". He still KEEPS his Earthlink address, because thatís
where heíll actually receive his mail. But he should only GIVE OUT the new one on
his Web site, business cards, etc.
If you use Outlook Express or a similar e-mail program, you can set it up so that
your e-mails ONLY show your e-mail alias and NOT your personal e-mail address.
(To do this in Outlook Express, go under the "Tools" menu. Then choose "Accounts."
Then select the account you use, and click "Properties." Enter your e-mail alias in
both the "e-mail address" and "reply address" fields.)
4. Get a professional-looking Web site DESIGN.
This can mean either hiring a designer to do a custom site for you, OR designing it
yourself. Unless youíre both trained extensively in HTML and have a background
in design, itís well worth the money to hire someone.
Find prospective designers who work with small businesses, ask to see samples of
their work, and be upfront about your budget. If their rates are higher than you can
afford, ask them if they have any pre-designed Web site templates they can just
insert your information in, cutting down tremendously on design time and cost.