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The Next Chapter

Out of Site

With the logo and stationery package designed, next up was the website. Spearheaded by Website Pros, the goal of the site redesign was to create an online location that would reflect the key brand messages that had already been defined--neat, organized and friendly--while making the site useful for customers and consistent with the new design work.

"The [main] consideration was to make sure the customer got a site that was modern-looking and fit the current state-of-the-art look and feel for websites," says David Brown, president and CEO of Website Pros. "[Chandler's] site was fairly stale and looked like it was built three or four years ago. Web authoring trends change rapidly, and we needed to update the site's look."

In addition to conspicuously featuring the new logo and colors, the site offered a perfect opportunity to give customers a peek at two elements unique to Book Lovers Bookstore--the clean, organized aisles and the two loveable cats. So the design team at Website Pros included photos of both on the home page, as well as an easy-to-read, bulleted list of the store's benefits. The site was designed with a program that will make it easy for Chandler to update news such as author appearances and featured titles.

Another important consideration was to create the site for maximum search engine optimization, which makes Book Lovers' site appear high on results lists when customers perform online searches for criteria that match her shop. Brown explains that the website copy was written to include certain keywords thoughout the site's text, as well as in the site's title. That way, he explains, search engine algorithms that crawl the site during a search will recognize its key messages and rank it according to the proper criteria.

"The single biggest mistake that small-business owners make in optimizing their sites is not being specific enough in their keywords," says Brown. He explains that, in the case of Book Lovers Bookstore, it would be a mistake to just focus on the word books, since that would leave Chandler competing with every bookseller on the internet. Instead, he used focused phrases like "antique books" and "used books," as well as the city where her shop is located.

With new marketing materials and a resuscitated website, Chandler's store is once again ready for business. "The main thing about this package is that it will allow her to keep consistency throughout every element of her marketing. She will have coordinated materials that will help her build an image," says Crowe.

And what does Chandler think of this flurry of activity? "I adore the logo and the look," she says. "They have captured the essence of my shop--whimsical and fun, but professional."

Chandler plans to integrate the new look throughout the store and within all the store's marketing materials, and she advises other business owners that investing in their own image makeovers is well worth it. "A good logo design projects the image of your business and tells customers who you are," she says. "I'm so proud. I can't wait to use this everywhere. That's a great feeling."

Building a Better Website
Your website is the place where customers and pros-pects can get information about your business-and perhaps even place orders-24/7. So it's important to get it right. Web designer Douglas K. van Duyne, author of the forthcoming book The Design of Sites: A Pattern for Creating Winning Websites, reveals the five most common mistakes growing businesses make with their websites.

1. Being all things to all people: "Too many businesses try to serve all their audiences on the home page-their customers, their investors, their employees," says van Duyne. "Ninety-five percent of the real estate on your [home] page should be used to serve customers. Use the footer of the page to have links for partners, investors [and] the media."

2. Using vague language: If people visiting your site can't figure out what you do in a few seconds, you've lost them. Van Duyne says all businesses should have a clear statement on the home page of what they do and what they promise their customers.

3. Making it too complex: Van Duyne advises against glitzy Flash animation or slow-to-load multimedia intro-ductions. "Most people are irritated by these things," he says. Instead, hire a professional artist to design a clean, easy-to-navigate site, and let customers choose whether or not to access your site's multimedia options.

4. Speaking "corporatese": Don't use jargon, acronyms or overblown terminology on your site. Keep language simple and easy to understand. "Sometimes, companies have internal language that [is] reflected in their sites," van Duyne says. "Be sure your internal language isn't ignoring what you need to say to customers."

5. Ignoring the value of testing: Van Duyne says it's not necessary to spend lots of money on testing. Just having a group of core customers review the site can be help-ful. "Have your customers complete simple tasks on the site, like filling out forms or checking different pages," he says. "Then, get their feedback. You'll probably get great suggestions for improving the site's performance."

Overall, simplicity and easy navigation should be your priorities, says van Duyne: "If it's too complicated, the business misses an opportunity to talk to a customer, which can translate into significant [losses]."

Gwen Moran is Entrepreneur's "Retail Register" and "Quick Pick" columnist.
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Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the April 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: The Next Chapter.

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