If you’re considering taking on your own website development, good for you! There are lots of tools and platforms out there to support those who want to DIY their online presence. With enough time and patience, you can create a landing page or even a full website. Many DIY services provide a huge range of templates to help you get started. Within those templates, you often have the option to further tweak and customize to your heart’s content.
However, there is a potential downside to all this free reign. It’s very easy for a simple project to quickly become overwhelming, especially if you are not working with a branding kit and some website wireframes. Your dream website could end up looking like a hodge-podge scrapbook collage – hardly inviting or reassuring for the potential clients you’ll be trying to connect with. Without a site that represents you well, you’ll be much less likely to share it. And if you’re not sharing it, your business building will become as s-l-o-w as molasses going up a hill.
So, what do you do? Abandon ship and give up on all the hours you’ve already spent trying to get it right? You could, but that’s not the Proud Peacock way now is it?
If you’re sure that doing it yourself is the right route for you, here are 3 easy things you can do to create a polished look and feel for your online presence:
1. Use A Custom Domain
2. Use Themed Photos & Graphics
3. Use A Simple Colour Scheme
Many “free” website builders allow you to get started with no money down. However, is the service really free? These services allow you to access their tools, while you cover their advertising costs with their name in your domain. Good for them – not so good for your brand. There are some very sound reasons why you want to make sure you can use a custom domain, if you choose a free website builder. Check these out:
- Free services and software are often heavily utilized by spammers. A custom domain can build credibility in your business and reduce the impression that you are a spammer.
- Search engines prefer root domains and will rank those better. That means a higher search ranking for your site, and ultimately more traffic from organic online sources.
- People also prefer names that are easy to remember and type out. Yourname.freeservice.com is less memorable and less likely to be shared than Yourname.com.
- A custom domain enables you to create a custom email address. This further enhances the professional quality of your brand and creates cohesion in your online marketing.
I’ll share some useful guidelines on how to create an impactful custom domain in another post. For now, please make sure that the free service you plan to build with, allows you the option to use your own custom domain.
Custom domain names are relatively low cost. You can typically expect to pay anywhere from $0.99¢ to $10 (USD) per year for your domain. The return in credibility they lend to your online presence makes it a very worthwhile purchase. Remember, in the online space, we only have a few seconds to communicate what we are about. Every touchpoint counts – especially your brand name.
This technique is a simple way to create powerful impact on your DIY site. While a custom photo shoot would be ideal, it’s not always possible with the budget and time constraints of an early stage entrepreneur. If you have a great camera and you know how to use it, awesome! Go for it. If that’s not you, the incredible world of free online photos will be where you start to build assets for your website, blog posts and social media graphics.
The good news is that there are tons of fantastic photos available for free online. Many of theme don’t even require attribution (crediting the photographer). But, like the endless customization options on the free website builders, too many choices of photos can leave you stuck with decision fatigue. The best way to handle this is to create a very simple plan. Use only the photos you really need to convey your message (less is more here) and stick with one style of photography. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Black & White photos
- Antique or period photos (1960’s motifs for example)
- Nature photography
- Photos by lens type (wide angle lens or fish eye lens for instance)
- Images that focus on textures
- Architectural photos
Consider the values of your brand and the overall vibe that you’d like to create. What impression would you like your site visitors to have. Use that as the starting point to guide your stock photo choices. Then, choose one key theme and stick with it.
Simple Colour Schemes
Choosing colours for your online presence can be a very tricky proposition – especially if you’re not a born designer. Once you’ve actually chosen a colour palette that represents your brand, you have to consider elements like print colours vs. onscreen colours and how the colours render across different devices and different media.
One way to keep your online presence looking polished and professional is to use a consistent colour scheme throughout. Once you’ve actually landed on the colours you want to use, you’ll need to know the hex code for that colour when you are using it online. The hex code is a six-digit alphanumeric sequence preceded by the hash (#) sign. For instance, the hex code for our Proud Peacock green is #11895d. The knowing the hex code of your colours makes it easy to apply them to backgrounds and header areas, as colour washes over photos or in your typography (fonts). Color-hex.com is a great resource to help with finding your hex code. Pictaculous is another free tool that lets you generate colour schemes from an image and shows you the hex code for each colour in the palette.
Ensure that your brand colours are consistently used wherever your business shows up online. This will go a long way in helping to convey a unified, organized and cared-for online presence. In the same way that mis-matched socks are a fashion taboo (at least for grown adults), inconsistent colour matching can make your DIY efforts look amateur. Check out the e-book below with some simple but powerful techniques for choosing colour schemes for your website.
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