Tag Archives: Homepage

Be online today – 5 Steps to having your own website

It’s now been over 25 years since the first website went online and back then, that was not possible without manually writing the HTML yourself. Nowadays you don’t need to be a fully-fledged programmer to create a professional website in just a few steps. From comprehensive content management systems, simple homepage builders to free frameworks, the possibilities are almost endless. But what’s the best tool for your needs and what exactly is required to build your own website? Modern hosting packages usually include a wide range of features that can help to make a website, but there are so many options.

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Category: Server & Hosting
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Frequently Asked Web Design Questions

In this article we will explore some of the common questions that we receive with regards to designing a website for a small business. If you have any other questions, feel free to let us know in the comments!

What should I include on the homepage?
Your homepage is the first impression of your business that you will be presenting to current and potential customers or clients. As the most popular page of your website, it the ideal location to position your most important information. Consumers visit your website to discover company details like your mission, significant products and services, and contact information, as quickly as possible. By displaying them clearly in this place, they will gain a positive experience from your website and in turn, your business.

Place information like videos, personal biographies, and photo galleries on their own specific pages. Not only will keeping videos and numerous photos off the homepage ensure the page will load quickly, but it also keeps the entire site organized and user-friendly. 1&1 Internet recently conducted research which found that 72 percent of consumers will abandon a purchase or inquiry with a business that operates with a faulty website, for example if it loads slowly. To prevent this poor experience, keep the homepage less demanding and provide the most relevant information in a clear format.

How should I display images of my products/services?
Visuals typically gain more interest from the public than text. Additionally, they are the most valuable method to showcase before and after projects for those that provide professional services, for example. Making these images available on your website provides a convenient and fun way for current and potential customers to learn about you and your business.

Web hosts often offer image tools that allow you to create an attractive photo gallery on websites alongside useful information about products and services. Some do-it-yourself packages, like 1&1 MyWebsite, provide stock images and let you upload your own photos to customize the site specific to your business. If a business wants to use a particular image they found on the Web, it is typical to pay an additional fee to do so. With some inclusive site design applications, a pre-licensed library of over 25,000 images provides numerous options for visually generating interest.

Can I really design my own website with your MyWebsite tool?
Yes. Many businesses are hesitant to create a website because they fear they lack the required knowledge to set one up. However, with simple, user-friendly design tools like 1&1’s MyWebsite, small-to medium-sized businesses can build a fully functional and professional website themselves in a matter of minutes. The straight forward set-up process and familiar editing tools allow owners with all technical skill levels to get online in only a few clicks of a mouse.

1&1 MyWebsite users are guided in the design process from the very beginning. Providing industry-specific text and appropriate images for more than 200 different industries, the tool offers an ideal starting point for business owners to launch their online presence. Customize the site to fit your particular business and offerings with the simple editing tool, much like working within a Word document. Each package comes with different features to build upon your online identity. Inclusive tools and capabilities such as integrating multimedia, Google™ Maps, feedback forms and social media widgets will help you meet the needs and expectations of site visitors while encouraging interaction and effective communication.

Once my website is designed, what other services and tools are available for me to leverage my website?
As a business, having a website is a great way to expand your reach to a broader audience. However, creating an interactive and exciting website will not only attract visitors but also engage them, keeping them involved in your business. Current content, such as news feeds, promotional updates and social media integration allows you to leverage your site beyond just Web pages. Together, these tools help boost credibility and functionality of a website, and increase the chances your visitors will return.

Investigate what is already offered to you through you hosting packages. Some include communication tools like email newsletters. You can collect customer information, for example email addresses, by offering the option to subscribe directly on your website. Information such as employee biographies, industry news, promotions, and achievements via this format build personality, professionalism and credibility all while you maintain full control over what is communicated. This is just one of the varieties of different options to improve your communication methods and reputation online.

I heard that there are hidden costs to choosing a Web design service.  Is this true?
Not necessarily. Some hosts might charge you a set-up fee which is additional to the advertised price, but this is not always the case. Be sure to read and understand all the “fine print” before committing to a package. This means not only those relevant to the specific plan, but also the general terms and conditions. Having confidence in your host and cost will help you focus more on your website development and less on the back end of your business.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/porcorex

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Category: Tips
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Ten Tips for the Perfect Homepage – Part 2

home-laptop-green

Once your website is established (Part 1), it needs routine maintenance. Regular information updates are important for your visitors, but you should also make sure that the published text, photos and product descriptions are well-written and easy to read. Additionally, when posting new images or videos, you should always keep an eye on your homepage load times.

  • Users should always be able to find the latest information about your business on your website. It is necessary to continue to make regular updates, to incentivize your visitors to come back.
  • Offer RSS (Really Simple Syndication) on your website. This allows your visitors to subscribe to your site, and receive updates on your company without actually visiting the website.
  • Set up an analytics program to monitor the activity of your web visitors. There are a number of tools you can use to determine where users go on your website, how long they stay, and how they found you. This information can help you determine any changes you should make to your online efforts.
  • Determine what differentiates your business from your competitors. Communicate that differentiator on the website in any way that you can. If your visitors understand how you do business differently, and better, than they will have a better impression of your brand.
  • When planning to change major elements of your website, make the changes one at a time. If you change multiple things at once, you will be unable to learn the effect of each change, whether it’s positive or negative.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/pagadesign

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Category: Tips
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Ten Tips for the Perfect Homepage – Part 1

Even if business owners already have a website, they should take the time to see if the following tips are implemented on the homepage. The more advice you consider from these points, the more optimized your website will be for your customers. Here is the quick checklist of the general items you should look for on your business’s website:

  • Treat every page on your site like it is the homepage. If another site, especially a search engine, links to a specific area of your website, that page will be the first thing your visitor sees. Therefore, be sure to include your logo, business name, industry, services, products, etc. clearly and consistently on every page.
  • Do not confuse your visitors. Your homepage should contain all the relevant information about your business while still exhibiting a clean look. If too much is happening on the page at once, with no clear organization of information, it makes it difficult for your customers to read.
  • Include a call-to-action. Encourage the visitor to do something. Phrases like “Call Today” or “Buy Now” motivate the customer to interact with your company.
  • Ensure that your website loads quickly. A slow website, due to large files being used for example, will dramatically increase your bounce rate. Online visitors have little patience for websites that take a long time to load, and will take their business to one that is faster.
  • Carefully consider your domain name. The domain name, or web address of your website is part of your brand. It is how your customers will visit and recommend the site to others. The name should be easy to remember while still tying in with your company’s overall brand.

Check back tomorrow for the remaining five tips!

 Photo Credit: Gina Sanders – Fotolia.com

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Category: Tips
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Introduce Your Website with a Good Header

The website header is the image that is at the top of any webpage. When creating a site for your business, you should spend a lot of time getting this element right. The header can affect a visitor’s overall experience, and establish the look and feel of your site. The header can be something simple like your own photo, or something more specialized and graphically appealing. For example, a restaurant owner might want to use the header to show a photo of the dining area, or they might use a more complex graphical design. No matter the direction, however, it is important to be sure you don’t infringe any copyright issues with your materials – photos or graphics.

Do-it-yourself website solutions, such as 1&1 MyWebsite, often provide an array of different graphical elements that can be easily selected for your website. Often times these solutions also provide industry-specific graphics for a quick and easy way to get your website started off on the right track.

If only a single header image is used on all the pages of your site, be sure to check that the image is correctly proportioned and fits well on each page, in terms of size, functionality and aesthetics.

A helpful tip when deciding how to design your header image is to research the websites of your competitors, and see how they have theirs designed. You can use them for inspiration, but just be mindful not to unintentionally copy or steal any of their graphics.

The right place for your company logo

The header is also the ideal location to feature the company logo. A logo serves as a focal point for your website, as well as a way to promote brand recognition. If you do not have an official logo, there are many services online you can use to have one created for you, with varying costs.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/-oxford-

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Category: Tips
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Why Customers Keep Coming Back

Take advantage of your online presence. You should use it for more than just a calling card, because a website can do so much more. Even if your business does not use an online store, keeping up-to-date information about your products or services, and providing attractive offers for your customers is beneficial for many reasons. You should update your site regularly to advertise and implement many promotional offers throughout the year.

Seasonal promotional opportunities: New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Spring sale, Easter, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Summer sale, Independence Day, Labor Day, Autumn sale, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Winter sale, Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza, New Year’s Eve.

Other promotional opportunities: Subscription, old vs. new, welcoming new clients, thanking loyal customers, demonstration of products, invitation to a seminar, branch opening, early booking discount, company anniversary, sweepstakes, coupon campaign, clearance sale, survey, new opening, new announcement, contest, price reductions, special offers, promotional gifts, etc.

The goal of every promotional opportunity on the internet is so your customers or prospects can learn more about your company and its offers. Therefore, the offer should always be announced on the homepage of the website as prominently as possible, and then linked to a landing page.

Be sure to announce promotional offers to as many customers as possible, via fliers, advertisements, direct mail, etc. But you should also consider electronic advertising opportunities, such as an e-newsletter or social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. For even more of an impact in your online advertising, read more about search engine marketing and search engine optimization, as those methods are essential for establishing a strong presence online.

Photo Credit: Liv Friis-larsen – Fotolia.com

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Category: Tips
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Your Own Website – Essential for Startups

According to the United States Small Business Administration, there are over 27 million small businesses in the US. As more and more entrepreneurs make the leap into owning their own business, the stress of managing every aspect of that business can begin to weigh on them. Luckily, creating a professional-looking website is no longer as complicated as it used to be. With the right tools, a business owner can establish their web presence very easily and affordably.

You no longer need to have an expert-level understanding in programming to get your business on the web. There are platforms available that offer many templates for professional-looking content for more than 180 types of industries – from car dealerships to dentists. You simply choose the template that is most appropriate for your business, add in a few personal details such as company address and phone number, and choose the desired web address to get your business up and running on the Internet. The page structure, written sections, images and some basic text is set up automatically.

Brewer Bernard Hecht, 43, has taken the initiative to present his newly established breweries online. “I knew from the beginning that these days every company needs a website,” says Hecht. After researching different website builders, he ultimately opted for 1&1 MyWebsite: “The professionalism, price and ease of use have convinced me,” he says. “People always ask who I hired to build my site and they cannot believe that I made myself.”

Using a tool like this, all of the content on your site is updated with a Web-based editor that is as simple as editing a Word document. Instead of hiring an external design agency, which can be very expensive, these tools save money and time for small business owners across the country. Expertise is not required. With the click of a mouse – you are ready to present layout, main graphics or fonts in a new look. There are more than a million design variations, so that no website looks the same. Additionally, with secure, password-protected access, a business owner can make changes to their website from any Internet-connected computer in the world.

John Schmitt, 32, has also brought his new film production company online. “The Internet has become a terrific way to advertise,” says Schmitt. “Everyone looks on the Internet first, and no longer flips through yellow pages.” He had used free website builders in the past, but was not impressed with the professionalism of them. As a longtime customer 1&1, Schmitt was aware of the tool that they offer and has tried 1&1 MyWebsite. He is now convinced that this is the best solution for two reasons: “Of course I thought it was great that I did not have to pay anything for six months for my site. Also, everything is very simple: I can achieve everything I want to do without having any programming knowledge, and have a great design choice.”

Since the website data is stored centrally on servers in 1&1’s high-performance data centers, business owners do not need to worry about back-ups, nor do they need to deal with the technical details of maintaining a site. Thus, entrepreneurs can fully concentrate on their core business.

Photo Credit: Corinna Dumat, pixelio.de

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Category: Tips
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The Homepage Does the Trick

The best place to give visitors a good impression of your business is the homepage of your website. The homepage is the first thing a user sees after entering the Internet address – it acts as the calling card for your business. A well-designed home page will keep your visitors engaged and inspire them to learn more about your company.

Important: The homepage should make it easy for the reader to find what they are looking for, with intuitive navigation and information on the front page to help them with their experience. You also want to include any information that can show the reader why they should be interested in your business. Your product information, company details, and how you differ from your competitors should be prominently featured on the homepage.

Arouse curiosity and then link to an offer.

The homepage is also the ideal place for any current special offers your company may have. However, try to avoid using lengthy descriptions and explanations. It is better to interest your customers with an appealing headline that draws them in, followed by brief words and a striking image to describe the offer in more detail.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/spiffyj

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Category: Tips
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How You Present Information is Crucial

Make sure that you offer information on your home page that is of interest and engaging to your target audience. To achieve this, you need to have well-written text (or copy, to use a professional term). If you write your own copy for your website, consider the following tips to ensure your audience is having a good experience.

1. Keep it short and to the point. Often times when people are researching a product on the web, they are looking to absorb a lot of information in a short amount of time. The easier it is to read your content will provide your users with a good experience, and keep them on your website longer. However, make sure you are being descriptive enough to still accurately deliver your message, and provide them with enough information.

2. Think of good headings. The headline should be descriptive of the copy below it, but be engaging enough to draw the reader in. For example: “Our service will save you $200 per month. Here’s how:”

3. Highlight important passages in bold. Only emphasize the words that can benefit the reader. For example, try to predict what they might be skimming the page to find, and help them find it. You could point out a few words, but if possible, try sticking to only one or two highlights each paragraph. Using too many bold words could have the opposite effect, making it harder for your reader to find what they’re looking for. For example: “Our XYZ machine will increase your throughput by X% more per day.”

4. Include lists, if possible. Bullet points can be read faster than long paragraphs, and using them is a good way to illustrate a list of benefits your product has. For example:
All the important benefits of XYZ at a glance:
    – Always ready
    – Easy to use
    – Cost efficient

5. Talk to the reader more directly. Write less about yourself and more about the benefits the customer will receive by using your product. For example, instead of “XYZ is a sensational product that has sold more than X copies last year,” write “When you purchase XYZ, you will get…

6. As a complement to actual images, or if images are not available, try to use illustrative language so that your reader can visualize your product.

7. Use descriptive adjectives. “We recommend the XYZ” sounds less exciting than “We recommend the ingeniously simple XYZ“. But be careful: Try to use those types of adjectives only where they enhance the product or its benefits.

8. Finally, all text should be grammatically correct and free of typos. Don’t hesitate to have a second pair of eyes look over your text before is goes live on your website. Even the best writers can miss a glaring error, even if they’ve read their own work dozens of times.

Photo Credit: ioannis kounadeas – Fotolia.com

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How Much is My Website?

When small business owners consider how they can present their business on the internet, their primary concern is the cost. Fortunately, with the right partner and the right tools, the cost for a professional web presence can be kept very simple, and well within a planned budget.

The simplest solutions for establishing a web presence are complete package platforms. There are a few services out there with all of the necessary ingredients to easily build a website, such as 1&1 MyWebsite. The prices for these types of solutions are typically inexpensive, and you can put a complete website together in just minutes. You only have to select the desired layout and content such as text and images. With minimal cost, time and effort, you can establish a successful presence online.

The 1&1 package in this case already contains the main elements that would otherwise need to be individually commissioned and paid for, such as domain, hosting, content and web design.

For example, if a business owner would purchase each individual element, they would need to research the following costs:

The domain

The name of your website (www. Your company .com), purchased from a specialized domain provider.

The hosting package

For a fee, you receive the domain, an e-mail account and some web space, which is typically enough for a simple presence on the web. Depending on requirements, the provider can offer more domains, more e-mail accounts and Web space, and additional software such as a content management system for maintaining the site. In order to choose the right package, it is important to know exactly what you plan to do with your site and how much data (mail, pictures, documents) will be stored on it.

Web design

If you want your company’s website to be completely custom-developed by a specialized agency, you could expect fees amounting from several hundred to several thousand dollars. The costs can also add up as you require updates to the website, since you would be unable to make minor changes on your own.

 

When using a complete solution to establish your company’s web presence, you can avoid the time and cost in adding every ingredient listed above. Instead, you get an easy-to-use, inexpensive, and professional website for your business.

Photo Credit: monkey business – Fotolia.com

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