If you happen to be a freelancer or a new start-up web design company, you will have to fight very hard to get business (especially your first). Gone those days when you could just tell a customer that you would do it for pennies or even for fun (at your own cost) so that they would award you the project. Customers have become much more savvy at playing the website game with all the resources available freely over the www. So as a newcomer, you would need to ensure that you make a good first impression. This always means extra work but it will definitely pay off when you start getting business.
Normally a webdesign project starts with a customer calling you up or submitting an enquiry through your website. Being a web design company, it is a given that you have a good corporate website. However a good website does not mean that it has too be very fancy as most of your target market will be looking at simple, easy to read, user friendly and search engine friendly websites. A customer will not appreciate you bombarding him/her with pages and pages of information on how good you are. You need to be tasteful enough to design your website so that the customers realise this fact on their own.
Here's how to do it:
Design a tasteful website with a colour scheme and graphics which would indicate to the customer that you know what you are doing. If you really don't know how to do this then you need to do a bit of research and look for competitor websites. Have a look at their websites and try to note down which aspects you liked about them. Ensure you note down which aspects you didn't like as well so that you can avoid the same mistakes. It helps to look at the websites from a perspective of a potential customer. This is called 'benchmarking'.
Once you have a good idea of how you are going to design your site, do a few mockups using a graphics editor such as photoshop. Don't just do a single design and stick to it. Take the time to do a few with different graphics, colour schemes, layouts etc. Show it to a few people who are frequent users of the web. This way you will get feedback from different perspectives. It will definitely help when you tweak the site to cater to as many people as possible.
Use light backgrounds with dark fonts as much as possible. Also make sure you stick to the fonts, font colours and font sizes used in industry as standards. There are many guides available online on fonts and colour schemes for websites. Take the time to have a look at them keeping in mind that a lot of research has gone into the design of these guidelines. Do pay attention to the layout of your website as well knowing that people read a website left to right top to bottom. So the most important location of your website would be the top left hand corner. As a rule of thumb, the first 20% of your website will determine 80% of its success.
Invest time in searching for graphics which best explains what you do and what your company is about. Each graphic needs to reinforce your company ethos to a potential customer. Avoid using fancy animations and videos which will take time to download and will distract the customer. Remember that you only have about 30 seconds to catch the attention of the customer. If your site takes more than 10 seconds to download, 70% of your potential customers will move on. Invest some money in professionally done graphics. There are many sites which sell professionally done graphics and images. These will make your website look more professional.
The "sitemap" or the sections of your website are important. For a webdesign company, generally you should stick to around 5 to 6 main sections. These will include:
- Home: where you give a brief overview of what your company is about, what you have done, who your customers are, what you can do and what you are doing now. This is the first page, and mostly the only page a potential customer will go through in detail. So make sure it sells your company in a nutshell.
- About us: where you have the description of your company.
- Products and Services: what you can do for the customer
- Our Clients: product portfolio
- Contact us: contact information and an online enquiry form who the customers who would prefer you to call them back.
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