Is your website past it's sell by date? Create a timeless classic ...
I read recently that most business websites are given a major overhaul every two years. That seems remarkably frequent to me and also cost prohibitive if you're a small local business. This got me thinking ... what steps can you take to create that timeless classic website?
- One that doesn't look a bit tired after a couple of years.
- One that evolves as your business does.
- One that allows you to add content and demonstrate how your business has grown without a major overhaul.
In fact, a website whose basic design and layout doesn't change much yet somehow still manages to look fresh and current. My own website .. yes this one ... was thrown together very quickly one weekend. In the past 18 months I've added a few things, like this blog and a new image on the home page but other than that all I've done is to add new content.
As with your wardrobe, don't slavishly follow current trends. Keep things simple and focus on a great user experience. If you are thinking of redeveloping your small business website or just getting started with your first website here are few ideas that may increase the longevity of your website.
Keep It Simple
Your website visitor has come to your website to find out about you. They're impatient and typically if they haven't found what they're looking for on the page with 3 seconds they'll be hitting that back button and going elsewhere, so here are a few guidelines for achieving an engaging, but timeless look for your small business website.
1) Animations and Moving Images are Best Avoided
Busy websites, with moving images and flashy animations may look clever, but they detract from the main message and can also look dated quite quickly, which is something you're hoping to avoid in the interests of keeping your website looking fresh without continuous design updates.
Yes, video is great on a website for all sorts of reasons other than the design and layout. But keep to one per page or at least only have one visible at any one time and don't have it next to another moving element.
2) Keep Fonts Clean and Simple
An outdated font is the quickest way to age your website. Please never use Comic Sans! New fonts are constantly becoming available, but Helvetica is still very widely used. It may be old, but it's a classic and won't detract from the quality of your content or the other design elements that you are using on the page.
3) Use 'White Space'
Break up your content with plenty of space around the different design elements. An over jumbled page ages the site and can look as though new content has just been plonked in any available space. Too much information jumbled into a small area is overwhelming to your website visitor and can make your key message difficult to find.
4) Keep your Buttons Plain
Shadows and gradients on buttons look dated. Keep them plain and flat with plenty of white space around them so they are easily visible and focus on easy navigation to your well written content.
This can present a challenge especially if you are on a budget. There are some great stock photography sites out there, but proceed with caution. Try to avoid cheesy looking photographs of unrealistically immaculate and happy people. This can be tricky if you're selling a service rather than a product and it may be worth considering a theme as on this site for Sunflower Financial Controllers. If your budget extends, try and source a couple of great images for your landing page or pages.
I found my Home page image by asking on my Facebook page if I could feature a local photographer's work. Many thanks to Karen Colebeck Photography.
If at all possible invest in a good photographer to take some shots of your products and your team. At the very least, if you're a small business, get a professional head shot done of you. Read more about why in an earlier post here.
OK, so the image in this post isn't really relevant, but Audrey Hepburn really was a style icon and epitomised timeless classic style. Tenuous link, but notice no animations required for what is quite simply a great image.
6) Social Media Integration
Social media has become incredibly important for promoting your business and it's here to stay for the foreseeable. Make sure all your social media channels are accessible from your website. However, they must be active! I recently took an enquiry from a new customer simply because she'd checked all the social links on my website and found recent posts and tweets. Better to shut down the profile than have it dormant as this conveys the wrong message - 'are you even still in business?' for example.
Anyway this post is getting a bit long and it's starting wander off it's original topic! If you're interested in updating your website or having a complete rebuild please call me on 01494 537612.