Talking People Cute But Not Professional

Several months ago you saw all over the Web that animated characters were the rage. Supposedly, according to the animated site owners, animated characters were said to increase sales.  Here’s an example

Personally I found these characters which typically start talking right when the page loads annoying and I simply cannot react quickly enough to turn them off. They appear cartoonish and do not give the professional polished look that I think is best for professional websites.

Video is the rage now and there are options if you want to include interaction on your page, but stay away from animated characters unless you are catering to a younger set that may consider avatars such as these animated talking heads cool.


Website Redesign Checklist

Are you thinking about redesigning your website? Read our short checklist of things that you should consider as you plan your website redesign.

1. Set a realistic budget first. Cheap is not always the right approach.

2.  Consider if you will use Flash or not. If you use Flash, use it as enhancement not the platform for your site as you will have trouble with search engine placement if you site is all Flash.

3. Now’s the time to integrate video! Create your videos in .mov format and have your web designer turn them into speedy Flash applications. Don’t forget to load your .mov videos onto YouTube and Google Video for greater exposure.

4. Review your content and get a “real writer” to upgrade and create new content for your website. Engaging and keyword dense content will really help your website with search engines.

5. Make sure that your site is the best it can be for search engines. Use the Meta tag fields, h1 and h2 tags and do not use images where you can use text.

Make sure that you don’t lose organic placement when you redesign your website, build on what you have don’t lose what you have.


Top Web Design Mistakes

In my experience in working with clients, reviewing and replacing older websites, and search engine optimization work and practice, I have found some common mistakes in websites that affect consumer confidence and performance. Here is my short list:

1. Poor use of navigation. The best place for navigation is the left side bar and then at the top under the banner. This is where research shows that clients will look to find site navigation. It is best to utilize this research when setting up a new site to make it easy for clients to find your pages.

2. Poor use of prime real estate. Eye tracking research shows that a prime spot for attention is the top right of the content block. This is an excellent place for a feature or highlight box. After viewing navigation scanning from the left column down and then across the page horizontally from left to right, the eye lingers in this prime spot. Make sure you are using it for your site’s benefit.

3. No address or phone number on the website. Ouch, are you trying to hide from customers? Make sure your address is on your website, you want people to have confidence that you are a real business. I recommend putting your phone number at the bottom of your page in the footer. More often than not, I will have someone on my site who picks up the phone to call and chat with me right then with my site open in front of them. In fact typically even my clients who find me by pay per click ads like to pick up the phone for the immediacy of response. Make sure you understand that this is how many prospects and clients will contact you and don’t make it hard for them to phone right when they want to.

4. No privacy policy on the website. Google is looking for this! If you are doing pay per click advertising, make sure you have one. If you are doing any kind of email marketing now or think that you will in the future, make sure that you have a privacy policy in place. You need to give visitors information on what you do with the information that they share with you either through a website contact or if they contact you directly by email.

5. No about page on the website. You may think that this information may be superfluous, but put yourself in the reader’s shoes. You really should take time to identify yourself, explain who you are and what your background is, who is on your team, and about the products and services you sell or offer. All this is a part of creating confidence and trust which are cornerstones to closing a sale.

All of the items on the above list are easy to implement and easy to correct. Now’s the time to take a very candid look at your own website through your customers’ and prospects’ eyes to see where you have areas of improvement.


Search Engine Optimization Is Not For Everyone

Search engine optimization is not for every website. Although search engine optimization can really improve the organic search results for some websites, there are a couple of considerations when really search engine optimization should not be considered and maybe a full site redesign may be a better investment of money and time.

When not to do search engine optimization:

  1. If your site is created in Frontpage and the site layout becomes broken when new content is added
  2. Your site looks funny in browsers other than Internet Explorer
  3. You have a site designed totally in Flash
  4. Your website looks dated or non-professional

As search engine optimization is not inexpensive, in some cases the money that would have been spent on search engine optimization would be better spent on a new search engine friendly design with built-in optimization features.