Making Your Websites More Compelling

The Internet is a remarkable publishing medium. With just a little effort, you can make your web pages visually irresistible by playing with color, shapes and text. Whether your websites are already launched or you're ready to create your first few, use the 3 simple steps below to kick things up a notch and make your sites professional and appealing.

Step 1: Grab People's Attention with a Photo or Graphic.

Without a logo or visual image to represent the central offering on your web page, you are asking potential clients to immediately take a big leap and dive into your text. Why risk the possibility of them not reading your important message? People browsing the web are notoriously impatient. Capture their attention with a photo/graphic before they click off your site.

Choose the perfect image from Photodisc, ClipArt or Corbis for as little as $9 to $90 per image. Human beings are visual creatures. Consider your favorite magazine for a moment. Would it still be your favorite if it used only text on its cover this month?

Step 2: Boost the credibility of your service or product by using a professional color scheme.

Using the image you selected in step one, it's easy to go the next step and pull together a professional looking color scheme. ColorSchemer is a small, inexpensive software (US$25) that helps you choose a color scheme that's eye-catching and unexpected, even if you're color-challenged. When picking colors, don't be afraid to let your personality show through. Check out http://www.colorschemer.com/.

Step 3: Use graphical "signposts" throughout your material to help readers absorb your message.

As you browse the web, start making mental notes about sites you enjoy visiting. I'm willing to bet it's the ones that break up text with colored bullets, numbers and other signposts that mentally engage you the most. I'll even go so far as to say that a website that does not use graphical signposts shows a disregard for the needs of the reader, intentionally or not.

Think of these mini-graphics as a way of showing consideration to your reader. They want to read your material and you help them make it easy by providing mental white space and places to rest their eyes.

Just a few No-No's:

Don't overdo.

The power of visual communication can be diluted if too many images are used on each page. There is both art and science to finding the right balance since too many images on a website can be just as ineffective as too few. The key is to work at finding this balance by studying other websites.

Don't use Flash or other animation.

More often than not, flash/animation comes across as cheap rather than professional and has only been shown to be effective in very specific circumstances. Moreover, web pages created with Flash don't rank well with search engines. If you must use it, do so very sparingly and be sure to have it professionally designed.

Whatever you do, don't be bland.

With millions of websites published every day, you must stand out in order to be noticed. Graphics that reflect you, your offering and your personality will help you become more attractive to clients -- quickly, affordably and with style.

One of the challenges of working online is to alleviate your client's natural reservations in a new and unfamiliar environment - the virtual world. Making things more comfortable for them is your number one priority and graphics will help you achieve that. By going the extra mile to make your websites look 100% professional, you become more credible in your own eyes as well.

Andrea J. Lee coaches entrepreneurs and online business owners. As Thomas J.Leonard's General Manager, she helped build and manage the largest network and trainer of personal and business coaches in the world. Now the CEO of Andrea J. Lee Group of Companies, she writes, speaks and consults on Marketing, Internet and Business systems. For more helpful tips, visit www.39lessons.com

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