Update Your Website: Whitespace, Organization & Color


Good morning internet fans! Ryan Perry, Simple Biz Support. Today is Thursday May, 19th, therefore it is Internet Marketing Thursday. And as usual I have Virginie Dorn, with Business Website Center. Good morning Virginie.

Virginie Dorn: Good morning Ryan. How are you today?

RP: I’m doing good. It is another beautiful sunny day in Sonoma County, so I’m very excited about that, hoping to get some time in to go for a hike later today before the rain comes later this week.

VD: Yes, I’ve heard it’s going to be raining on Saturday. Unfortunately, a lot of the high school and the University graduations are this coming Saturday for our counties. The one day they all picked is the day it’s going to be raining. But again, we cannot complain, it is truly a beautiful area to live in.

RP: Yes, definitely. It won’t be too hot during graduation, so pros and cons, pros and cons. Today, we are going to talk about not necessarily redesigning your website, but kind of more of an overhaul. This is going to be a three part series, we’re going to really focus on three areas on each series on what you can do to make some incremental changes, I should say to your website. And the caveat to that is that your base website is actually something that can just be overhauled, give it new life maybe after two or three years, versus if you’ve got a website that looks like an Atari game from the 80s. This may not work for you, you may want to just to start over.

VD: Correct. If you have a recent website maybe designed well in the last five years, you’re fine with just making some small visual changes, which we’ll be covering today and the next two weeks. And both changes are easy, they’re fast to make and very affordable. So we’re looking at a very small budget on your part to hire you’re web design team to make the changes for you.

RP: Alright, perfect. And why don’t you cover what the three items are that we’re going to talk about today, and then after we do that, we can go ahead and dive into number one.

VD: Correct. This week we’ll talk about color scheme, white space and organization. The overall feel of the website when someone first arrives there and color scheme is extremely important. You and I have done numerous webinars on the power of colors and how each color can render a different feeling in your visitors when they see it. Of course, you have a color and it’s part of your brand and your logo. But that does not mean that if your logo is blue, then you should have a blue website. It is possible to introduce more interesting colors that are different from your blue logo, to make again your website more vibrant, more interested and more modern. So start with picking colors, then create the right mood for what you’re trying to accomplish. So again, there’s different mood for different colors and you can search Google for it. There’s plenty of websites, including our own webinars and discuss it. But again, it all starts with what do you want people to feel when they first arrive to your homepage?

RP: Right. And then one of the things that you talked about is logo. Obviously, hopefully it’s obvious that your logo, the colors that are incorporated into your logo should have relevance to your color schemes that you actually use on the website. And I know Danielle Foster, Design by Dani, when she creates new logos, she actually will give the client an option. I’m trying to remember what it’s called, it like a Design Bible or something that not only tells a client what the different logos are, what their actually Pantone colors are for the logo, but it also will list complementary colors that you can use and design, so that if you’re moving forward and something such as updating your website, redoing a brochure, the idea is you can just turn this document over to a graphic designer and they’ll be like, “Okay, I know what font to use, I know what color to use and I know what their complementary colors are.” So that there’s consistency through all of their marketing material.

VD: Yes. So that process is very similar than you going to Home Depot and picking up a new color pallet for your house. You might be looking at the wall, maybe an accent wall that has a slightly different color, and even the wood trim color. So you put them altogether and you can see those sheets of paper you can get at the hardware store, something similar can be done on your website. So again, a lot of companies who have established themselves years ago, might have an old-fashioned color like Hunter Green and Reflex Blue, and these come from the old time where printers only gave you six choices of colors for your business card. That was before digital printing, so you were stuck to one of those few colors, And again, some people with Hunter Green logo might think, “Oh, my whole website needs to be green,” when in fact you could even bring in some orange and yellow colors and even blue and green work really well together. So you create a pallet that, again, makes your website more interesting and more in line with the mood you’re trying to create.

VD: If you want something vibrant or action-orientated, of course, you have the red and the yellow. If you want something softer, you can even go into the pastel color pallet nowadays, because the computer screens have come a long way. I know a few years ago we stayed away from pastel, because they did not render well on the web, they just looked washed up, they all looked like a grayish kind of color. Nowadays, it’s not a problem, you can absolutely have pastel color pallet on your website and look just breathtaking and beautiful.

RP: Alright. Very nice. And then the other thing you got to be careful of is when you’re using color in a website is making sure that there is enough contrast between your text. I’ve seen a number of websites that they use very nice color pallet, but there’s just not enough contrast there. And I think white lettering is one of the worst converting colors to use, I just learned that this weekend at a marketing conference. People that have big budgets that study this on a regular basis say that white letters with a colored background don’t convert well, and I think it has to do with readability a lot of times.

VD: Well absolutely. I hate websites, I shouldn’t have say hate, but I really dislike websites where most of the text is white. Now, I find it acceptable if it’s just a simple title against a bold color background. That’s okay, like a button, a call to action and it kind of stands out. But if you’re talking sentences and paragraphs, no definitely stay away from white lettering, stay with something a little bit of a lighter background with darker color fonts.

RP: All right, perfect. And the fact that your logo and then my logo back here in the background have white letters, we’re not talking about just one off, we’re talking about consistency, like you said, the whole paragraphs all the way through just makes it really hard to read a lot of times. Unless of course, your background is black, then it might be appropriate.

VD: Yeah, but then it’s only appropriate for a very specific type of industry, something maybe high-end fashion and it has to be different from everybody else. But for most clients you and I deal with, this is not a good option.

RP: Correct, all right. Since we only have 15 minutes, we should probably move on to white space which is really important and I don’t see across the board, I think white space is pretty well done these days. There’re still definitely a number of people out there who like to cram way too much information. And I think typically that’s what happens from a business owner’s point of view and I’ll let you describe what white space is. But as a business owner a lot of time, especially small business, it’s like, “Well, I gotta tell everybody everything that I do so that I get all the business.” And the problem is when you try and shove all of that into a very small space, especially if you started thinking about smart phones web-design, it creates issues, and so white space is really important. So I think as a business owner, we have to prioritize who are we really focused on, and who do we want coming to out website and let’s just focus on that message.

VD: Yes. So white space truly it’s the padding, the white areas, the breathing room between sections and even between texts and images. It creates some airiness to the website and makes it much easier to read, much quicker to read as well. Now trying to cramp up everything you know about your company and services on every single page is really old school. It does not work and worse case scenario, it’s actually going to turn off your visitors. So trying to make it more airy, of course means longer pages, but it works so much better. Now, it’s not so long ago before mobile devices when we wanted everything above the fold and above the fold, we meant everything had to be visible on the screen without any scrolling action from the part of the visitors.

VD: This is old school, this is passe. Nowadays, people are used to scrolling, they do it on their mobile device, their smart phone, even on their touch screen for their computers. It is absolutely acceptable and expected, nobody will think less of your website. If you cramped everything above the fold, they’ll think less of your website. So you really have to change your way of thinking about your website and things have changed thanks to mobile devices. So white space, giving your visitors more breathing room will make the texts even more readable and the experience more enjoyable for your clients.

RP: Yeah. And when you talk about the fact that people are used to scrolling now, I don’t see it that often, but there’s definitely some sites that have popped up over the last year or so where pretty much the whole website is one page. And even if you click on a menu button, it’s just going to scroll down to that section. But essentially, your entire business is on one very long page because people are used to scrolling these days so much.

VD: Yes, again totally acceptable and even expected from your internet users. Now, because we’re running out of time, the third section is organization, is how do you organize your site map, your sections, your paragraphs, so it has that organizational feel. It has to look efficient and like you put some thought process into putting together your pages. Truly it has to do more about alignment, adjusting, making everything aligned to the left or to the right or justified, those little adjustments give it an organizational feel when people first arrive to your website. I was looking at some of my notes here…

RP: Yeah, I was going to say, one of the important things is that when it comes to organizing, the United States, we’re used to reading from the top left and then we work our way across. So typically we want to make sure we have the most important information placed first in the top left, and then the less important information as you go down.

VD: Absolutely, you’re guiding your visitors through the process you want them to go to. Putting the most important items at the top always a must. And again organization could be a slight border around specific sections, really having section well-defined where people understand very quicky where it starts and ends, so they know, “Okay, that section about that survey is for that product.”

RP: I was just going to say, I think I always go back to Apple. They’re typically leading edge when it comes to design. I don’t even… It’s probably been three years ago if you look on their sub-pages. I loved it when it first came out. First of all, it’s just pure white. You have your big statement at the top about, “Hey, this is about the iPhone as an example. Look how beautiful it is.” And if you scroll down for more information, you have an image with text. Then you have an image on the opposite side with text on the opposite side. Then as you scroll down, you have another image. But they bounce it back left and right and that created the delineation because they had a pure white background. And so it was just a big image that was this bold statement of, “Here’s the benefit and then here’s the details of why this benefit is important.”

VD: Yes, it’s a very good example. Again, visually, it seems organized. Now, the text may not be organized, but visually it gives that sensation to your visitors.

RP: Yeah, perfect. All right. Is there anything…

VD: No.

RP: Well, we’re going to talk about some… I was just looking at next week ’cause I know we’re going to be talking about font, buttons, call to action. Call to action is a big one for me. I think… I don’t know, probably 95% of the websites out there for small business owners lack a call to action and it’s really not that difficult and if it can… Having a call to action can increase your conversion. Making a phone call, getting an email, whatever it is just by 20%, what would that do for your business? So I’m excited to talk about that next week. Any last thoughts on today’s show though to wrap it up?

VD: No, again all those tips we’re giving you, they’re not brain surgery. They all make sense when you watch us. You just have to get them down. They require a very small budget from your web designer. Of course, if you’re getting a big quote for those types of changes, just give us a call at Business Website Center. We’ll be able to help you. But yes, easy changes and they can make a huge difference in your conversion rate.

RP: Yeah. And one of the nice things is if you’re a small business owner, maybe you don’t have a big budget, so you kind of break things up. One of my big things I always talk to my clients is incremental change. If we can make incremental change… Actually, I just read an article about a guy and he committed to reading or practicing, it happened to be French. He wanted to learn French, and so he committed everyday to read at least one page. And whatever the book was, he would read one page. If he had more time, he would spend more time on it, but his commitment to himself was, “One day, I’m going to spend at least five minutes” and just work on this one thing until he got it. And then he would move onto the next one. And I think in like a year, he could do conversational French.

VD: Wow.

RP: So just those… Incremental, a lot of times we feel we have to go from A to Z right now. And then we never get anything done versus if we just did incremental stuff, it might go, “Wow, it’s going to take us a year.” But look, it actually gets done versus getting overwhelmed and we just shut down and don’t do anything.

VD: I agree.

RP: Alright, I’m glad you agree. I appreciate that. That is it for today’s show. Again, next week, we’re going to be talking about the same thing, some simple design tips to take your website and bring it up to date. We’re going to be specifically talking about fonts, buttons, anybody using buy buttons, buy now. There’s this specific color that converts better than all other colors. That’s really important, and then also call to actions. Virginie, as always, I appreciate the time and energy and we will see you next week on the same computer, same screen, at the same time.

VD: Yes, and have a great weekend everybody.

RP: All right, that’s it for today’s show. We will see you next week. Take care everybody.


About the Author:

Ryan Perry is the founder and CEO of Simple Biz Support, Inc. Ryan started video blogging in 2009 as an alternative to written blogs to create visibility and credibility online. During the workweek, he enjoys helping small business owners harness the power of video to grow their companies. On the weekends, he enjoys hiking and searching out waterfalls throughout the state of California.

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