Small Business Marketing by Jillian Shaw Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations for the Small Business Gets A New Look

04.19.2010 · Posted in Blogging, Design, Marketing, Website

New Website Design for Small Business

An alternate title for this post could be ‘the irresponsible and haphazard method for choosing your website design.’  But that would be kind of long.

I’ve been practically living on a super-useful blog (totally unrelated to small business, sorry, or else I’d link to it here) that uses a three-column layout and after a while I realized how useful that third column was, so I decided to get one myself!  Now, I’m NO expert on website design (I can refer you to a few people who are really good at it, if you really need it).  But since having a web presence is a great way to market a small business, I wanted to share my little online experiment with you.

Having recently finished up three website copywriting projects, one that was massive, I’ve seen just how complicated, expensive and time consuming it can get.  But it doesn’t have to be!

That said, let’s start with what I’m doing RIGHT:

  1. Spending zero dollars.  I will never tell you not to spend money on your website if its burning a whole in your pocket.  There’s nothing like a truly original design crafted by knowledge web designers specifically for the purpose of highlighting your small business.  However, websites like that are NOT cheap.  They are generally $3,000-$5,000, and that’s just for starters.  Big businesses pay upwards of $40,000 for website design.
    Instead, I’m using a free WordPress theme.  If you don’t know anything about web design yet and you’re seriously considering building a website on your own, or with minimal help, check out WordPress first and foremost.  It’s blogging software that can easily be adapted to host a more traditional website by even the most novice user.  And it’s entirely free.  You have to pay for hosting, of course.  For that I recommend Hostgator.
    The downside of using free design themes is that other people are probably using them, too.  But that’s a small price to pay, if you ask me.  I don’t recall ever seeing two websites that obviously used the same WordPress theme.  And I doubt I ever will.
  2. Going on instinct.  I found something I personally liked, and so I’m adapting my website to do something similar.  As you can see, the three-column set up makes it easier to reach information without having to search or scroll to much.  I like that.
  3. Adapting.  Some businesses, once they’ve got a website up and running, simply refuse to update the thing to adapt to new technology that’s available and new information about web design that could improve the effectiveness of their site.  Bigger businesses also fall into their own traps, spending way too much energy coming up with a ‘brand image’ and then feeling as though the company is married to it for life.  Why is it so hard for some folks to just let go?
    Anyway, there were some visual and functional things about my old theme that I just didn’t like, so I really needed to find something new.

Now for the things I’m probably doing WRONG.  Remember, I’m no expert, so I’m not even 100% sure that I’m wrong!

  1. Going on trial and error.  There are case studies, scientific research and general web design rules of thumb that I am completely oblivious to.  Unless it has something to do with the actual copy, I don’t know the first thing about web design.  To look all that stuff up would take way too much time, and it’s more important to me to just get the job done that to get it done totally perfectly on the first try.  Maybe that’s a naive approach, but…ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
  2. Not consulting my readers.  In retrospect, I could have done a survey of my readers/fans/followers and gotten valuable user insights as to what ‘works’ for my website and what they wish was different.  I didn’t take the time to do this, but this probably isn’t going to be the last time I change the design so don’t worry, you’ll get a chance!  I’m definitely open to feedback about this one.

Leave a comment and let me know if it’s better or worse, and what you think ‘works’ in general for information blogs.

Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
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