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Website Design: Tips for Keeping Your Site Fresh and Appealing
23 September 2010
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Website Design TipsMany small business owners still abide by the “set it and forget” philosophy of website design. As a result, their sites can begin to look stale or outdated compared to ones that are newer or frequently updated.

Information on a website can become outdated for a number of reasons. You might be offering new services, or discontinuing old ones. You might have shifted gears to deal with the effects of the recession. You might be dealing with new advertising rules (federal, state, or local) that have come into play.

Nonetheless, the importance of a fresh-looking website can’t be underestimated. Visitors are less likely to trust a site that appears outdated or amateurish, and yesterday’s professional site design might make your site look out-of-touch today. Making periodic “spot changes” to your site can help you keep up with popular online trends as well as improve its usability and visual appeal.

Here are a few things to consider when you’re upgrading your website:

  • Fonts. If the body copy on your site is rendering in Times New Roman, you may want to consider switching to Verdana or Arial, which are sans serif fonts that provide better readability on the Web. And if you want your site to be taken seriously, you may want to avoid using Comic Sans. Make sure you consider your audience when you’re choosing your fonts. If you have customers who are older, for example, they may want an easily readable font as well as a larger font size.
  • Background color. Although dark-colored backgrounds can be used effectively, you may want to consider colors that aren’t too “off the wall” for your customer base. When in doubt, a white background is always a good choice.
  • Pictures and logos. When it comes to images, it’s important to consider size, quality, and relevance. It’s helpful to compress your images so that they look good while your site is loading (fast, hopefully). Web pictures that are processed with older image software may look grainy or a bit odd on newer monitors. In addition, you’ll want to make sure that the subject of each picture isn’t too “retro.” As far as your logo, check to see that you’re using the latest and greatest version.
  • Company information. Are your phone number and copyright information up-to-date? Have you added a new fax line recently? Is your site using any slang or buzzwords that may not be current? Are there any new terms or product descriptions that you need to add to be relevant to your customers? Are you selling additional products or services since you last updated your website?
  • Social media icons. If you have a presence in social media—such as on Facebook or Twitter—make sure that you place the related icon on your site and link to your profile. If you’re not yet participating in the social space, you might want to consider tapping into this opportunity to connect with your customers and prospects online.

One of the greatest benefits of a frequently updated website is that it encourages people to keep coming back. Here are a few ways you can accomplish that:

  • Offer printable coupons for seasonal specials or monthly promotions. That way, you create value for your customers, and you encourage them to make return visits. Plus, you can do so for far less than you’d pay for a magazine or newspaper ad.
  • Create user resources that keep your company top of mind. For example, you can publish a printable calendar of local events that includes your logo and phone number. And if you own a heating and air-conditioning business, you can include a to-do list on the calendar that reminds customers to call you when they need seasonal maintenance services.
  • Use interactive features that provide practical information. If you own a house painting company, for example, you can provide a calculator on your site that estimates the cost of interior or exterior painting services. Whenever you help your customers figure something out or make decisions, you’re adding value to the mix . . . and they’ll remember you the next time they’re planning a remodeling project.
  • Distribute opt-in email messages that share timely information about your products or services. If you sell computers and software programs, for example, you can alert your customers when you have new components or versions available. That way, you keep your customers in the loop about your expanded offerings, without having to hire extra people to answer the phones or make sales calls.

Whenever you take the time to upgrade your site, or just give it a little spring cleaning, you have a chance to pull ahead of your competitors, who may not understand the importance of looking sharp and up-to-date in the online world.


Related articles:
Keeping Your Website Fresh and Competitive
Build a Website You’d Like to Visit
How to Test and Improve Your Website’s Usability

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    1. This info is so beneficial for me . . . actually, I’m still new in web design, and surely this will be my reference . . . by the way, should I have my own domain, or just a blogspot blog to earn money?

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    2. Some great tips here. I have just started on Web design and have 2 sites “live.” I am constantly talking to my clients to find out if they have any up-and-coming special events or offers that could and should be advertised on the website. But the other tips about fonts, colours, images, etc., in this article are extremely helpful.

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    3. Thanks a lot!

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    4. Hi Patrick,

      These are some very good suggestions. Thanks.

      I developed my website about 7 years ago using Microsoft’s FrontPage, which I continue to use for periodic updates. However, I believe the site does not look as professional as I would like, and I understand that more recent software can add some pizzazz. I am a low-level Microsoft partner, so I can obtain more recent software at a very low price, like Microsoft Office Live Small Business Web design tool or Microsoft Expression. Is one of these tools similar to FrontPage in terms of ease of use, but still more modern?

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    5. Thanks, Walter.

      Microsoft Expression and Adobe Dreamweaver are two good platforms, and in a lot of cases you can also update your design just by freshening up some fonts and images. One of the paradoxes about updating your site is that today’s design can always look dated tomorrow, but a site that is clean and concise can often leave room for remodeling down the line.

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    6. Hello Patrick . . .

      I also am using FrontPage, and my site is about 8 years old. I bought a Microsoft Expression upgrade online, and when I received it, I was disappointed to see that one of the requirements is a broadband connection. . . . I still use dial-up. Is this a hard requirement, or can the software be used with a slower connection speed?

      I do like FrontPage . . . and keep my site fresh by using new photos and changing the products featured on the index page. But I would like to do a real redesign, and would love to use the new software.

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    7. Bob,

      Unfortunately, I don’t know the specifics of why Microsoft Expression requires broadband, but it may have more to do with the need to download periodic updates and security patches. Ideally, it should not affect your access to your hosting.

      Patrick

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    8. It is important to make sure that you maintain and update your site regularly. This will give the impression that you care about your online visitors and will keep them interested in what you have to say.

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    9. Great work on my new site. . . . It is just perfect.

      Edie aka Elizabeth Ross

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    10. Thanks for the shout-out, Edie. We wish you continued success!

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    11. Patrick,

      Thanks for your tips. Fonts and their styling are overlooked.

      With the advent of HTML5 now is a good time to start to convert sites to HTML5.

      I work with Flash slideshows and images and the site requires daily maintenance. Content becomes tired looking all too soon. I have a newsletter as well and good copywriting is a big job to keep fresh. Most of us don’t have a team of web designers working under us to spew out pages daily. Keeping your content fresh is job one.

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    12. Continually updating and adding information shows Google that you are an active business. The original design and information you put into your first website need to be good, but don’t stop there. If you see some way to improve the look or give out better information, you need to do it. Good article and good advice. Thanks.

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    13. These are really great points. Every business should update their website regularly, and if they go with template based, they should at least make it look like it was designed by a professional designer.

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