Designing Your Own Website?

Thinking of designing your own website?

Unless you are familiar with the web and its quirks, don’t design your own website. And if you think you can get your nephew or your neighbour’s daughter to get one done for you, think again.

Would you entrust them to run your business? No? Then why do people often skimp on having a proper website done by leaving the most important job to inexperienced family members?

And most of the people you call on to design your website would either delay it (hey, they have a real job too you know) or design it the way they think it should be, instead of following web usability conventions. When that happens, you start wondering why your website doesn’t get any traffic and whatever happened to buying customers?

Lest you think I am belittling your abilities or the abilities of those around you, the reason why you shouldn’t design your own website, is the same reason why you don’t represent yourself in court (unless you are a lawyer by profession) or self-medicate when you are unwell (unless you are a doctor). There are certain tasks that you leave to those who have the experience and skills to do the best job possible.

Designing an effective yet pleasing website needs experience and skills. Ask yourself this simple question: why are you attracted to certain websites and why are you turned off by others?

The websites you liked were most probably designed by those who designed websites for a living; if you liked it enough, you would bookmark the sites to return to again and again, thus making you a loyal visitor.

If you left your name and email at these websites (because you were impressed with what you saw), they would contact you for further follow-ups, thus enhancing contact and increasing favorability.

How about websites which annoyed you? You probably left in a huff, because you could not find the information you needed (let’s face it, everyone who goes online is searching for information) or the website looked too amateurish to convince you to leave your name and email (you felt vulnerable because they looked like they would be spammers!), much less have any credible information you could use.

In a nutshell, these websites did not live up to your expectation. You just couldn’t put your finger on it but you felt uncomfortable. These websites could have been designed by amateurs. Whoever designed them does not matter because what mattered was you would not ever step into those websites again, so strong was your first impression of them!

What matters is this: a website must execute both form and function; it must be pleasing to the eye as well as be customer-friendly. Designing a website does not merely consist of slapping up text and photos.

A website is about proper planning, use of appropriate fonts, font size and graphics optimisation (it means photos must be sized just right for the web user – not too huge that it loads slow and not too small that it’s rendered meaningless).

It’s also about making your website compatible with different browsers (yes, there is more than just Internet Explorer these days). It’s also about branding your business – what type of image do you want your business to project? What colours are appropriate? Why should you have your company logo on the top left corner of your website instead of anywhere you wish?

These and more are driven by conventions and rules, backed by theory and proven by research. And they’re not just there to make lives difficult. They’re in place because these enable you to discern one great website from one lousy one. And you would not get this from a person who does web design as and when he desires, or just because he thinks he knows how to use Microsoft Frontpage or Adobe Photoshop, he is a real designer.

Professional web designers are familiar with the web and know what would work and what wouldn’t. Because they do this for a living and their good name and company name rest on this, they do not simply slap together text and photos just to create a website. They cannot because they have too much to lose.

What has your nephew to lose? You’ll still be his uncle or aunt and if he succeeds, great. If he fails, he doesn’t care because his reputation is not on the line, unlike a professional web designer. Your nephew would probably shrug and say, “Well, I did say it was done in my free time! What do you expect?”

A website is never a finished project. It always needs continuous improvement, whether it involves minor tweaking or major changes. Your web designer will be the best person to consult. He or she knows the industry because they make a living from it. They have to be constantly on their toes, looking for the best tools and software to help their customers gain the most from their websites.

So if you’re looking to get a website of your own, please, start with a professional web designer or at least someone who has been in the industry and who has a portfolio of work to show you. It would also save you a lot of tears and tantrums in the future. And you bet your family ties won’t break either!

Here’s an easy way to get started with a basic yet professional website. Use Redbox Easyweb, our budget website solution that you can manage on your own and best of all, you don’t need to pay webmaster’s fees. Check it out at RedboxEasyweb.com

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