Monday, November 27, 2006
saying goes for Web sites. I’ve 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 you’re 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.
The one your kid created for you doesn’t count! I’m
talking about paying a designer to do one for you, and
it doesn’t have to cost in the thousands. If you don’t
have much of a budget, consider the following options:
For my E-zine Queen site, I used an online logo
service called “1800MyLogo”
(http://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 http://www.ezine-queen.com)
I’ve also heard good things about
http://www.gotlogos.com, where you can get a quick Web
site logo for only $25!
It’s 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 you’re 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
Nothing screams “amateur” like sending out
professional e-mail from a handle like
“email@example.com.” Once you get a domain name
for your Web site, have your hosting company set up a
professional e-mail *alias* for you.
Let’s go back to Bob, for example. Suppose Bob’s
e-mail has always been “BobSmith0002@earthlink.net.”
Now that he has his own domain name, he can instead
“firstname.lastname@example.org”. He still KEEPS his Earthlink
address, because that’s where he’ll 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
This can mean either hiring a designer to do a custom
site for you, OR designing it yourself. Unless you’re
both trained extensively in HTML and have a background
in design, it’s 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.
If you do want to put together your own site, check
out the “corporate” section of
http://www.freewebtemplates.com for several neat
designs you can use at no charge. (TIP: Avoid the ones
with colored backgrounds; they’ll make it more
complicated for you, and your text will be harder to
Whatever design you choose, make it CONSISTENT on
every page of your site, by using the same design
elements such as borders, fonts, and colors.
Most of us (and rightfully so) are leery of purchasing
online from a company we’ve never heard of before. To
alleviate our fears, put contact information on every
page if you can, with a physical mailing address,
phone number, and e-mail address.
If you’re uncomfortable posting your home address,
lease a box at a mailing and shipping center and use
that address. Avoid using “P.O. box” in your address
if possible, which can appear suspicious. Real
companies have real addresses!
Also, get a *toll-free* number if you can — it really
says “big company.” I got mine from my long distance
provider, 1Com (http://www.1cominc.com), because they
charge no setup fee or monthly fees — I only pay for
the incoming calls at my usual great long distance
About the Author
Copywriter and consultant Alexandria Brown's FREE
biweekly e-zine, "AKB MarCom Tips," gives how-to tips
on creating compelling Web sites, brochures, and
e-zines. Learn easy ways to "write to sell" and
attract new customers today! Subscribe now at
http://www.akbwriting.com or via