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Startup & Small Business

Domain Names Matter

Written by Brandi Bennett

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

http

It is generally understood these days that a domain name is necessary for brand recognition. Domain names also serve many higher purposes as well, including being a primary contributor to the overall user-friendliness of the Internet. Without domain names, we would have to memorize IP addresses in order to visit websites… instead of “Googling” something, we’d “74.125.227.229” it.

 

Time To Select A Domain Name! ACK!

The truth is that many people fail to consciously think of a domain name that they want, or several alternatives, prior to the signup process. As such, when it comes time to pick a domain name, they panic. This can lead to a host of different issues, as with the case of the now defunct, ill-fated domain name “The pen is mightier” a.k.a. thepenismightier.com. As you can see, while “The pen is mightier” is a pretty nifty name from a very famous quote (and one that worked well for a site that made custom pens, it just doesn’t work so well as a domain name, and can lead to a host of unfortunate situations. The site has long since been taken down. It would be best, however, to learn from their unfortunate mistake.

 

How Do I Avoid An Awkward/Inappropriate/Unfortunate Domain Name?

It’s quite simple. Open a word document or pull out a pen and notebook and start jotting down potential domain names. See how they look in text and see if they communicate your message properly. From there, circle or highlight the five top choices. You can then check the availability at https://register.hostgator.com.

If your choices are available, you can proceed with the registration process. If none of your choices are available, it’s back to the proverbial drawing board. Remember, you don’t just want to take any old domain name, you want one that will represent your site, convey your business appropriately, and adequately display your professionalism.

Domain names matter. Give them the treatment they deserve and put some time into it. You are naming your site. If you wouldn’t just type in random characters on a child’s birth certificate, don’t do it to your site! Your business is not unlike your child. You are working to nurture and grow your site – your business – don’t put it at a disadvantage from the get-go!

 

Image Source: Wikipedia. (2014). Domain Name. Retrieved from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/75/Internet1.jpg

How You May Be Sabotaging Your Small Business

Written by Brandi Bennett

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

need-for-control
You’re running your small business. You’re doing things your way, and you think you have it all under control. The fact of the matter is, the potential for things to spiral out of your control always exists. There are several different things that you may be doing that might actually be hurting your business instead of helping it. We are going to review some of these things. Take a look at whether or not you are actually committing a small business faux pas, and if so, you’ll be able to correct course before they start to negatively affect your business.

 

Excessive Focus on Profits

While profit is certainly a goal of business, there is such a thing as being too focused on the bottom line. If your only concern is money, you will slowly start to drive employees away, and ultimately drive your customers away as well. Money is important, but losing sight of the human aspect, the fact that your employees have lives, that stuff happens, and that your customers, and even you have a life outside of making money or having someone make money for you is important. If you become lost in the idea of money, you will lose sight of the reason you are making money, and thus will inevitably start to lose control.

 

Overconfidence

It is vital to be confident in your business and your business ideas. It is this confidence that serves to grow your business and is surely what prompted you to start your business in the first place. Don’t be overconfident, however. Keep both feet on the ground. Be realistic in your expectations. Remember that there is always room for improvement, and a good idea can always be improved upon to become a great idea. Constantly look for new ways to improve your business. Don’t just assume that your business is awesome and it rocks and you need to change absolutely nothing. This overconfidence is what can cause your business to fail.

 

Need for Control

The last faux pas we are going to address is the relentless need for control. Small business owners have often started their business by themselves. They are generally the only employee until their business takes off. They get used to doing everything themselves. When the business grows, the problem comes when they continue to try to do everything themselves. Learn to delegate. Understand that things may not get done the way that you used to do them, but they will still get done and done to the standards you have set. Accept that change is necessary and release a modicum of control; if you don’t, it can become a literal death grip that chokes the life out of your company.

 

It’s Not Perfect, But It’s Mine

In working to address each of these concerns and working to ensure that there is the appropriate balance within the company, it will become possible for your business to grow and flourish in ways that you may not have dreamed possible. Your small business is like a child you are raising, and just like when raising a child, you have to learn when to let go and to allow it to grow. The first step, the first bicycle ride without training wheels, the first car… businesses grow similarly to people, and when your business grows, you have to remember to keep sight of what is important, just like with a child.

 

Image Source: Borselaer. (2014). Need for Control. Retrieved from http://www.borselaer.org/wp-content/uploads/need-for-control.jpg

How To Use Customer Psychology To Engineer A Better Website

Written by Kevin Wood

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

How To Use Customer Psychology To Engineer A Better Website
Have you ever wondered why some websites draw you in and make you want to buy what they’re offering, while other sites leave you with a feeling of wanting more? Much of this has to do with the psychology behind the website.

A lot of designers and business owners build websites according to their specifications, instead of taking the time to strategically build a website that’s engineered for their ideal customer. In an increasingly crowded web space it’s more crucial than ever that your website be clear and on point.

By implementing some basic human psychology principles you’ll be on your way towards creating a website that not only looks good, but converts as well.

 

Why Implement Psychology Based Design?

By taking the psychology into account you’ll be creating a better experience for your visitors, which will make them more likely to take whatever action you’re nudging them towards: buying what you’re offering, sharing your work, signing up for your newsletter, etc.

Trust is the backbone of any interaction on the web. Without trust you’ll have a very hard time making any sales, or having any kind of success with your website. Trust is a hard thing to build, especially in the online space.

By using design psychology you’ll be able to make your website seem more trustworthy, which will help to bring your visitor into a state of ease. Face it, people at ease are more likely to be receptive to what you’re offering.

 

Understanding User Website Behavior

The moment a person lands on any website there are certain elements they expect to be there, regardless of the style of site you’re using. If your visitors are confused the moment they land on your website there’s a good chance they’re going to leave.

When a person is exploring your website they expect to see your purpose clearly stated, and some form of navigation to get around your website. Beyond these two elements you’ll need to have certain reinforcements that will act as a support system for your site’s purpose.

These elements can be things like color schemes, font style and use or non-use of images. Your website needs to be communicating on a cohesive level in order to provide your visitors with the best experience possible.

In order to build an effective website you’ll need to understand the way a user scans your website, as well as the intent behind each page. Most readers tend to read in a ‘Z’ pattern across your website, so you’ll want to place the most important elements of your website across those lines.
Make sure you have purposeful pages. There shouldn’t be a single page on your site that doesn’t serve a purpose. When a user lands on any page of your website the reason for that page being there should jump out at them.

Lastly, you need to realize the web is a crowded space and most people will land on your website with a frazzled state of mind. By using intentional white space throughout your website you’ll be allowing your viewer to breathe more deeply and relax a bit.

All of these pieces together will help you craft a better user experience.

 

Incorporating Psychology Based Design

Now that you have a basic understanding of the power of using psychology to build a better website, it’s time to dive into a few techniques to get you started:

 

1. Step Into Your User’s Head

Knowing who your actual users or visitors are going to be is the crucial first step in the process. By taking time to map out and understand who your unique visitor is, you’ll be able to build a website based on how they use the web, as well as incorporate some useful emotional triggers into your site.

2. Plan Your Entire Site

Creating a sitemap for your site will help you to determine the purpose for each page. The best way to do this is to create a list of every element you want to have on your site, then break it down page by page. This will also help to ensure you don’t miss anything.

3. Decipher Your Brand

There are certain brand elements you’ll want to include in your design. It can be helpful to make a list of these elements as well, because you don’t want to diminish the overall impact of your brand.
The most common elements include: your site’s logo, your overall color scheme, and sitewide typography. These elements will essentially knit together the rest of your site.

4. Continually Test

Once you have all your elements picked out, your website copy written, and your site built out, it’s important you continually test different elements. This will help to show you what your users like, and what elements are turning them off.

 

After consistent testing you’ll be left with a stronger site than you could ever have built in the first place.

By implementing some of the basics of customer psychology you’ll have a site that’s literally built to serve your customers. After all wouldn’t you rather have a site that works for you, instead of against you?

 

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/51735839@N00/15433742780/

Entrepreneurs, the Internet, and Speed: Why Page Loads Matter

Written by Brandi Bennett

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

brain_wheelie

Entrepreneurs utilize the Internet in a variety of ways: a means of promoting themselves or their products, completing market research, setting up a marketing plan, and so forth. It’s no surprise that, as a result, businesses are able to rise and fall in days or even weeks.

If an idea takes hold of the public’s subconscious, it’s liable to explode. If the idea, regardless of promotion, never takes hold in the mind of the public, the company is liable to languish, forever lurking in the darkest corners of the Internet. Not all ideas are gems, but at the same time, something as simple as presentation could be preventing the organization from taking off.

 

Speed

Everything happens quickly online. Pages load in a fraction of a second, transactions are able to be completed in minutes, if not sooner, and manuscripts from hundreds of years in the past are able to be read and reviewed in less than a few hours, all without ever leaving the relative comfort of your computer chair.

People have come to expect expediency when dealing with all things online. If you don’t believe it, go from a cable modem back to dial up and see how quickly you become frustrated with the inability to work at your normal pace. (If you can’t bear to complete that experiment, switch from your cable modem to a satellite connection in the middle of a rainstorm; the experiment will show you how much you have come to rely on speed without being quite as painful as the dial up experiment.)

 

Turning it Around to Your Benefit

Take a second to clear your browser cache and attempt to visit your website like a new visitor would. How fast does your site load? Do experience any frustration as a result of the load time?

If you get frustrated with the speed at which the pages load, or the amount of time it takes you to find a certain piece of information, there’s a good chance your users will be frustrated with it as well. Remember, you’re creating your site to get their attention, not to frustrate them. Speed is now of the essence; make sure your website gets the attention it deserves.

 

Image Source: Catchpoint. (2012). Brain wheelie. Retrieved from http://blog.catchpoint.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/iStock_000018917656Small.jpg