Add curb appeal to your site - April '10 Bright Ideas Blogzine
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Blogging Bistro | April 2010
10 Great Ways to Add Curb Appeal to Your Web Site and Blog
We've just finished remodeling our front yard. We added an attractive array of trees, shrubs, and plants that vastly improve our home's curb appeal.
Curb appeal is especially important when it comes to Web sites and blogs, because Web surfers "window shop" for only two seconds before they decide whether to take a closer look or click away to another site.
The way your online storefront looks directly impacts the perceived quality of your products and services. No matter how much time you spend writing brilliant blog posts, you won't attract as many customers if your site looks like a cat threw up on it (my thanks to Seth Godin for the cat analogy).
The problem with many Web sites and most blogs (mine included) is that we get excited about the latest gadgets and can't resist adding these goodies to our sites. Soon, our sites morph into a cacophony of flashing widgets and competing colors that look like - well - you know.
It's time for spring cleaning, folks. Here are ten tips to help us clear out the clutter and add that all-important curb appeal to our sites.
1. E-mail screenshots of your site to a focus group of 10-20 friends (send them to your enemies, too - they'll give you honest feedback). Ask them to list specific elements they like and don't like. If they're highly critical of your site, try to avoid screaming, crying, and acting defensive.
2. Itemize the most important elements you need to change. Rather than spending countless hours trying to do it yourself, you may want to outsource priority items to a graphic designer, programmer, or writer - who can create a professional product that will very likely cost you less over the long haul.
Here is a list of items you may be able to tackle right away:
3. Prune. Eliminate widgets, irritating flashy thingies, ads, navigation buttons, pages, and other elements no one clicks on or that you don't absolutely need.
4. Paint. Perhaps it's time to modernize your site's color palate. Visit http://www.colorschemer.com/schemes/ and browse the latest, greatest color schemes. The colors that attract attention best are shades of yellow, orange, pink and red.
5. Fix what's broken. Click your links to make sure they all lead somewhere. Test your navigation buttons. Is there content on the page they lead to? If not, delete the page (or add content!).
6. Update signage. Does your site's header/banner need an overhaul? What about type fonts -- are they dated? Too tiny to read without a magnifying glass? Examine your blog's sidebars, too. Featured elements should be prominently displayed and easy to find.
7. Focus on your merchandise. If you sell products or services, spotlight them so your customers can quickly find them. Install a shopping cart system that makes it easy for people to buy.
8. Change the display monthly. I'm not suggesting you overhaul your entire site every month. But you should add something surprising and fresh on a monthly basis. That might mean adding a new picture or video to your blog. Or moving your blog from an interior page on your site to your Home page. Or adding an interactive commenting system to your blog. Brainstorm small, but effective things you can do to change things up.
9. Provide multiple ways for people to contact you. If you have business hours, list them on every page in an easy-to-spot location. Same goes for your PO Box address, your phone number, and your e-mail address. If you feel uncomfortable publicizing this information, at the very least, include a contact form so people can reach you.
10. Clean up the parking lot. As you're tidying your Web site and blog, spruce up your social media profiles, too. Make sure your Twitter background matches your Web site's color scheme. Feed your latest blog updates into Facebook and LinkedIn. Optimize your YouTube channel with relevant keywords so search engines can easily find and index your videos.
First impressions truly are lasting impressions. Make that first impression a powerful, positive one.
Ideas for this article were adapted from "Curb Appeal," by visual merchandising strategist, Linda Cahan, in the March/April 2010 issue of SpaRetailer magazine.
Take the Spring Cleaning Challenge
Spring cleaning is more fun when
you do it with someone. If this article has inspired you to work on
your site's curb appeal, take BEFORE and AFTER screenshots (of your Web
site, blog, or whatever) and e-mail them, along with a list of what you
did, to email@example.com.
Doesn't matter whether you're doing a
bit of dusting or a full remodel. I'll feature you and a link to your
site in an upcoming blog post.
Need help re-doing those priority items on your site? We have graphic designers, developers, and writers standing by to help. Contact us for a free, no-obligation needs assessment.
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