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"'Ask the Small Business Professor' is a must read for small business owners looking for free expert business advice. Using a Q&A format, Bruce Freeman covers important small business topics weekly by bringing in recognized experts on subjects including accounting, legal issues, trademarks marketing and sales. Don't miss it!"
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A Small Web Design Budget
Dear Professor Bruce:
I own a small business. I know how important it is to have an attractive web site so that customers visit and hopefully purchase. However, I cannot afford the "bells and whistles" that larger companies can. I want to maximize my small web design budget so that I can look as professional (and large) as possible. Any suggestions?
Before you even talk to a Web developer or designer, get to know your clients and customers. Ask them what they consider most important regarding your goods and services on the Web.
Dr. William Sanders, Professor of Multimedia Web Design & Development at the University of Hartford, provides some excellent tips to small business owners who need to develop a “champagne” website on a “beer” budget.
Whatever your clients deem most important should be the first thing that they see on your Web site.
Second, make what your customers want 1) easy to find, 2) easy to order, and 3) easy to pay for. As a corollary, make it easy to un-order (put back on the shelf) and easy to exit. People who feel at all trapped in a Web site will not return.
Third, give something away free that a user can download immediately. People love free stuff, especially if they can get it right away. If you're a small Real Estate company, give away an online Mortgage Calculator.
Fourth, take a look at a big business site to see what makes it look big. A good example are the Halliburton and IBM sites. They're clean, simple and clear. Halliburton has photos of offshore oil rigs, and your two-partner law firm does not. However, you can use great stock photos to make your company look big.
Fifth, avoid "dancing baloney." Dancing baloney refers to unnecessary graphic animation and movement that catches the eye. It also infuriates the client and motivates hitting the back button.
Sixth, a search engine is helpful. If you have a small number of services and products, don't use one. If you have a large number of products or services, it will help your customer find what she wants.
Another consideration is a short video explaining your product.
Finally, if you want to save money on a Web developer or designer, a good place to start is your local college or university. More and more institutions of higher education are offering courses of study in Web design and development. Very often, students need projects for their course work.
Before you even talk to a Web developer or designer, get to know your clients and customers.