1. Do not use wysiwyg website or blog creators! They make you look instantly cheap and tacky from the outset, as well as incredibly amateur. If you are serious about your website and presence online, wysiwyg sites such as Moonfruit, Wix and Weebly will not do you any favours. You’re much better off starting off with a decent blog host such as WordPress. If you can afford it at all, invest in a professional web designer.
It is so true on the web that you only get one chance to make that first impression! With the overwhelming number of blogs and websites out there, make yours stand out from the crowd – in a professional way.
2. Get your own logo! A custom logo should serve as your trademark all over the web, beginning on your website or blog. There is a whole science to the development of logos, which requires a designer’s mind to capture all its nuances. Suffice to say, if you can get your logo designed specifically for you, it will stand the test of time, convey what you’re about to your audience at first glance, and give a thread of consistency to your online presence.
3. Buy your own domain name! First of all, decide what you want your domain (website name in the URL/what people click on to reach your site) to be. It could be that you have a blog name you like to use, or an online ‘handle’ or alias that you are known by. Incorporating this into your domain name will help with your consistency, building a strong ‘brand’ feel to your site or blog.
Remember that if you want to change your domain or online alias in future, it will take some time for the news to filter through, and you could ruin any hard work you have put into building site traffic using that name. Better to get the right name for you right from the start than rebrand after a few months because you chose something that wasn’t quite right. Head over to a domain site such as 123-reg to check if your domain is available. Once bought you can set up directing your site to this URL (domain/web address) as well as all manner of things that 123-reg offer such as emails, hosting, e-commerce and more.
4. Usability is important! There is a common format to websites that people expect, when using websites. This usually goes as follows:
- Logo at the top of the page, which also serves as a global home page button
- Clear menus for navigation of the site, either across the page under logo area or down one side
- A search box on the page somewhere (near the top is best)
- Social media icons, so people can easily find your profiles on Facebook, Twitter, G+ etc
- Content in the central area
- Footer at the bottom of the page which includes any terms and conditions, RSS feed, link to contact details and so forth
If you stray too far from what people are used to when visiting websites, they will stumble round your site blindly before pressing the back button enough times to get back to (probably) Google and then visit elsewhere. Make it easy for people to stay and also easy for them to find interesting things to keep them entertained, right from the start.
5. Use social media bookmarks! There are many plug-ins and widgets available so that you can easily add social bookmarks to your pages and blog posts. These are the ‘Tweet this’ ‘Share this on Facebook’ ‘G+ this post’ style sharing buttons that you see at the top or bottom of blog posts or on webpages. You’re writing fantastic content, right? Well you should be in any case. People might want to shout about your amazing work – make it easy for them with a simple click of a button. Bam! Your site and content reaches their audience. Share and share alike, it all leads to increased visibility, traffic and your web presence will be better known and more respected.
6. Do not use Comic Sans. It’s just terrible. Really – don’t.
7. Keep animated banners or images to a minimum! They are not classy or professional. I limit myself to one animated banner on a page, usually – and that’s when I really have to use an animated banner. I prefer static images. Animated banners just annoy the eye, distract readers from your copy and can be so neon and offputting that your traffic feel they have no option but to leave.
Size your images correctly! Make sure your images or photographs are not too large for the page. Also, when resizing an image, make sure that you resize both horizontally and vertically to avoid that ‘squished’ image effect. It just screams, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing here but I wanted to squash this picture in somehow.’
How to resize an image easily in HTML: In the HTML for an image you will usually be given the size of the image, ie:
Say you wanted the width to actually be 250 pixels.
change the 500 to 250 but delete all of the height=”667″ part. Don’t put any height in. The HTML will amend automatically based on the width of 250 pixels.
It’s the same if you wanted the height to actually be 500 pixels.
Change the height to 500 then delete the width=”500″ part. The HTML will amend automatically based on the height of 500 pixels.
If you’re exceptionally good at maths, then feel free to calculate the new height so the browser knows how much space to leave for the image, and therefore speed up the page loading time. I’m not good at maths, so I don’t!
Good luck and happy blogging!