Once you’ve had your genius idea transposed into a viable business plan there are a couple of first steps. Funding is obviously first and foremost, and when there’s some guaranteed money in the coffers entrepreneurs quickly move on to the ‘fun bit’ - thinking about the personality and visual identity of their business.
Any entrepreneur with limited start-up budget is going to need to get creative when it comes to branding. It’s probably a far distant reality to think of paying a multi-national branding company or costly web designer. You want to create a good looking brand that’s up and running within weeks so you can get out there and get selling. My first piece of advice is to look to some famous brands and do a bit of your own (free) market research.
If you consider a huge, iconic brand like Apple, Google or British Airways, you immediately conjure up in your head a vision of that brand and what it ‘says’ to you. Apple suggests ‘cool and innovative’, and British Airways says ‘classic, traditional and very British’. What these brands have understood well is the need for simplicity and consistency in their visual personality.
Below are a few tips for creating your own website, which you can do even if you haven’t a clue about coding. There are lots of ‘freemium’ web builders out there that you can turn to that will create you an aesthetically pleasing, professional online brand for next to nothing.
Find your inspiration. Studies show the most effective e-commerce websites have white or light backgrounds. Look at the big boys of retail for design tips. They've poured big bucks into market research. Learn from them.
Create a wire-frame. Make a sort of template, or outline, to include homepage layout, buttons, header/footer and then fill in the gaps.
Keep bells and whistles simple. Do you need animation and sound? Sound on a website is quite distracting to a lot of people. And does your design focus on your main message or distract from it? Have some friends visit and ask them what they notice first. First impressions are hugely important in a website, so make the homepage captivating as ‘bounce rates’ can be very high – you want, in fact you need people to stick around.
Make it social. Think about where your potential customers ‘live’ on the web and be where they are. When you’re designing your website from scratch make sure you have all your social media icons – Facebook, Twitter etc, underneath your mini page so they show up on every single page.
Keep it clean. In terms of colour schemes, even a slight change in shade or hue of a colour can make a huge impact. There's a brilliant colour scheme site called Kuler. Pick a scheme you like, stick to it and your site will pop. Also try to use only one font throughout your site. If you need two, make sure you pick two that go together. You can sign up to web fonts on Monotype for free.
Omer Shai is the vice president of marketing for the ‘freemium’ DIY website creator, Wix.com