5 Ways to Give Your Web Site a
Big-Company Look and Feel
by Alexandria K. Brown, The E-zine Queen
We all DO judge a book by its cover, and the same saying goes for Web
sites. Ive 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 youre 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
doesnt count! Im talking about paying a designer to do one
for you, and it doesnt have to cost in the thousands. If you dont
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.mylogo.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 Ezine Queen (http://www.ezinequeen.com.)
Ive also heard good things
about GotLogos.com, where you can get a quick Web site logo for only
2. Get your own business DOMAIN
Its 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 ...bobshardware.com or the one whose
URL is ...geocities.com/3339/bobshardware'? (This is a fictional
example, by the way.)
Having your own domain name implies
youre a real company, and not Uncle Bob working in
his kitchen at night (even though you my very well be ; )).
There are several places to buy
domain names at good prices, but one of my favorites is WebLaunching.net
(Only $12 per year.)
3. Get (and use) a business E-MAIL
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.
Lets go back to Bob, for example.
Suppose Bobs e-mail has always been BobSmith000002@earthlink.net.
Now that he has his own domain name, he can instead use email@example.com.
He still KEEPS his Earthlink address, because thats where hell
actually receive his mail. But he should only GIVE OUT the new one on
his Web site, business cards, etc.
If you use Outlook or a similar
e-mail program, you can set it up so that your e-mails ONLY show your
e-mail alias and your personal e-mail address. (To do this in Outlook,
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 and reply address
4. Get a professional-looking Web
This can mean either hiring a designer
to do a custom site for you, OR designing it yourself. Unless youre
both trained extensively in HTML and have a background in design, its
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
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.
If your budget is next to nil and
you'd like to choose from a variety of templates that you can customize,
check out Ken Evoy's new "Site Build It"! This innovative
tool lets you create your own site very easily, and it has some of the
most professional-looking templates I've seen. The affordable package
(less than $350 USD) also includes hosting, a list service, and more.
5. Tell us WHO YOU ARE and HOW TO
Most of us (and rightfully so) are
leery of purchasing online from a company weve 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
If youre uncomfortable posting
your home address, lease a box around the corner 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 says big company and "customer service."
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 rates.
(c) 2002 Alexandria K. Brown
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexandria K. Brown, The E-zine
Queen, is author of the award-winning manual, Boost Business
With Your Own E-zine. To learn more about her book and sign up
for more FREE tips like these, visit her site at http://www.ezinequeen.com.