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How 10 Site Design Laws Relate to Good Living, part 2

by Jill Foster on February 16, 2009

sibyl-edwards-pic

Guest post by Sibyl Edwards, regular guest contributor to Women Grow Business. Sibyl works as a digital designer and strategist based in Washington, DC. She has many years of experience in interactive design, identity branding, and digital strategy for businesses and non-profits.

Sibyl produces the social cause marketing blog Engage and Effect and can be reached there or at www.twitter.com/saedwards.

In my last post on laws 1 through 4, I discussed the “outer laws” and importance of having a vision, doing your research, planning ahead, and paying for professional advice.

In this post I want to discuss the “inner”, more personal laws that will help create a more successful site and life.

5. You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover

For your website or blog
As a business person, you have probably spent many months or years cultivating your business image on paper. The same care should be taken with your online presence as well.

The first thing most people will see about your business will be your website or blog. First impressions count and users will decide whether they want to do business with you based off the look and feel of your site. Consider what your online presence says about you and your business:

  • Are you cutting-edge?
  • traditional ?
  • or casual and modern?

Whatever your image online, make sure it is inline with your organization’s vision.

If your site’s image needs some revamping – hire a professional designer (see Law #4). And remember this: the designer is your partner – not a lackey. While I applaud clients who have a vision, that vision should be flexible and open enough to incorporate new ideas. Don’t micro-manage the very process you hired the designer to facilitate.

On the other side, don’t let the designer “tell you what your image is” while you offer little feedback. Or you’ll end up with something far from the image you want to project.

For your life
Unfortunately, we can often be judged initially by how we look vs on what kind of person we are. To put your best foot forward, always look your best (which can still be done even if your budget can’t afford the best fashion). It is often said people who are deemed more attractive are treated better, are promoted faster, and even make more money.

In fairness, I don’t recommend you go out buying a $10,000 wardrobe or go investing in plastic surgery. I instead suggest we all try and remember this: confidence, intelligence, and a positive attitude can also largely impact how we come across.

6. Stay Focused

For your website or blog
Evaluate your site’s focus with these questions:

  • When people first visit your site or blog, can they tell who you are and what products/services you offer?
  • Can users find what they need without digging into the recesses of your site?
  • Does your company blog have too little pertinent content (but too many pics of the company picnic)?

This brings us back to Law #5 above. How your site is structured as well as the kind of content you feature can seriously affect your credibility – not to mention the bottom line for your business.

If you aren’t able to hire a professional (Law #4) then you need to do Law #2 – research! Go online and research interface design and usability experts to see what makes a well structured site.

For your life
Something I struggle with on a regular basis is staying focused. If you visit my desk at work, you would see my computer completely covered with sticky notes. This “organization” is the only way I can stay on top of things. (I had a planner but I kept forgetting to write in it!).

While I don’t champion this particular method of organization for everyone, staying focused and organized will allow you to “get things done” and save time you can dedicate toward your business and personal goals.

7. Put Yourself Out There

For your website or blog
So now you have started an amazing new site/blog. How to market it?

A key way to get people to your site is to have it as searchable as possible. The biggest search engine is of course Google. One of the best ways to increase rankings within Google is through content. Your site’s/blog’s content should have fresh, regular, pertinent content to help raise your profile in Google. The richer the content, the better your ranking. I recommend adding your site and blog to Google Analytics.

Another great site with search optimization resources is SEOMoz.

For your life
Market yourself like you do your site i.e. check to see how you rank as an individual on Google.

If your ranking is low and – Heaven forbid – someone with the same name (and a less stellar reputation) is ranked above you, you can adjust your ranking by blogging or twittering for yourself and others. Personal brand specialists William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson suggest:

Every Monday morning, Google yourself and keep track of any changes in your results.

Also network regularly (not when you need a job) with others in and out of your field.

8. Stay Positive

For your website or blog
Remember the Golden Rule!

Having a blog, it can be tempting to share and I mean share everything on it. If you want to use your blog for professional reasons, think twice on doing this.

If a potential employer or client happens to come across your blog, do you really want them to read blog posts about the trials and tribulations you experienced with a particularly difficult client, for instance?

Probably not.

Recently, a PR exec leaving from an out of town meeting with FedEx decided to Twitter, rather derisively, on why anyone would want to live in that particular town. Well they got a shock when FedEx found out. And they weren’t too happy.

The moral is: You never know who is listening.

For your life
Believe me I know how hard life can be. Sometimes it seems no matter how hard you work to fulfill your goals, obstacles get thrown in your path. Modern life creates stresses that affect your body and mind. And my recommendation when things get to be too much is go somewhere private and have a good cry or scream! But at every opportunity, try and remain positive! The last thing you want to do is bring people down around you with a negative attitude.

I’ve also found that meditation can be effective against the “blues”.

But please note: if you find your “blues” preventing sleep or proper function for extended periods of time, please consider seeing a health professional.

When overwhelmed, Dr. Wayne Dyer says: “Look for simplicity in what you call complicated by seeing that in this moment, it’s not hard.”

9. Be Balanced i.e. don’t try and do it all yourself!

For your website or blog
Sometimes you are just too busy to update your site’s content or company’s blog.

One word: delegate, delegate, delegate!

If you can’t delegate the duty to a colleague see if it is something you can “farm out” to a professional web content writer.

For your life
First of all there is no such thing as the perfect 50/50 life-work balance. Some days you work more some days you play more. Debra Condren, Ph.D. says: “Imbalance is normal. Go for [self] acceptance.” It is when things become incredibly imbalanced that your work or personal life suffers.

I’m not here to tell you what the best way is to juggle commitments. Only you can decide that. I am here to tell you that no matter what – you will have to carve out some time to dedicate to yourself and your personal goals.

This will be one of the hardest things to do because you may want to make sure others are cared for first. Which is wonderful – when it’s not taken to extremes. By constantly sacrificing our needs we can inadvertently cause ourselves guilt, then anger (and possibly depression).

I have found that when you are pursuing your goals you feel more alive and satisfied with life.

10. Give Back

For your website or blog
The great thing about having a blog is having an opportunity to share your passion of knowledge with others. And by doing so, you create a community where others can come and share and comment on your blog as well. You in turn will connect with your readers which will raise the level of engagement.

Your website or blog can also become a wonderful vehicle to inform, engage, and build support for a favorite issue or cause. If done right, you can be seen as a leader in the community who champions a particular issue.

For your life
Offer to mentor and develop others.

Women in particular often lack opportunities for mentorship.

Host community groups at your place of business. Dedicate a day or more helping out in the community.

Greater DC Cares hosts the Servathon every year in DC. Individuals and groups can sign up for various community events during Servathon.

The ideas for you and your business to serve are endless.

I want to end the Laws by reminding you to start with a vision and end with giving back to the community at large. And remember: you as a woman entrepreneur are smart, powerful, and will succeed!

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