IF you want to attract high quality clients and customers, then convey that you're a legitimate, credible, and sought-after business. These five points are a great launching pad to give your site that "professional company " look and feel.

 

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  1. Start with a high-quality LOGO

The one your kid (or your neighbor down the block) created for you doesn't count! We're talking about paying a professional designer to design a logo for you. It doesn't have to cost in the thousands. If you don't have a large budget. Consider the following options:

When professional web designers design a website, they usually include the logo design in the price. There are many web designers that offer the same service or a small fee when designing a website. I've also heard good things about gotlogos.com, where you can get a quick Web site logo for approximately $25!

  2. Get your own Professional Business DOMAIN NAME

It's just a fact that folks will feel safer shopping at a site with its own domain name. For example, if you were shopping online for a circular saw, would you be more likely to purchase from a hardware site called "bobshardware.com " or the one whose URL is "geocities.com/3339/bobshardware? " (This is a fictional example only.) Having your own domain name implies you're a "real " company, and not Uncle Bob working in his kitchen at night (even though you may very well be ; )). There are several "bargain basement " places to buy domain names.

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3. Get (and USE) a business E-MAIL ADDRESS

Nothing screams "amateur " like sending out professional e-mail from a handle like "fuzzybear4u@hotmail-com. " Once you get a domain name for your Web site, have your hosting company set up a professional e-mail *alias* for you. Let's go back to Bob, for example. Suppose Bob's e-mail has always been "BobSmith0002@earthlink-net. " Now that he has his own domain name, he can instead use "bob@bobshardware-com ". He still KEEPS his Earthlink  address, because that's where he'll actually receive his mail. But he should only GIVE OUT the new one on his Web site, business cards,etc.  If you use Outlook Express or a similar e-mail program, you can set it up so that your e-mails ONLY show your e-mail alias and NOT your personal e-mail address. (To do this in Outlook Express, go under the "Tools " menu. Then choose "Accounts. " Then select the account you use, and click "Properties. " Enter your e-mail alias in both the "e-mail address " and "reply address " fields.)



4. Get a professional-looking Web site DESIGN

This can mean either hiring a designer to do a custom site for you, OR designing it yourself. Unless you're both trained extensively in HTML and have a background in design, it's well worth the money to hire someone. Find prospective designers who work with small businesses, ask to see samples of their work, and be upfront about your budget. If their rates are higher than you can afford, ask them if they have any pre-designed Web site templates they can just insert your information in, cutting down tremendously on design time and cost. If you do want to put together your own site, check out the "corporate " section of Professional Web Site Designs for several neat designs you can use at no charge. (TIP: Avoid the ones with colored backgrounds; they'll make it more complicated for you, and your text will be harder to read.) Whatever design you choose, make it CONSISTENT on every page of your site, by using the same design elements such as borders, fonts, and colors.


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5. Tell your potential customers  WHO YOU ARE and HOW TO REACH YOU

Most of us (and rightfully so) are leery of purchasing online from a company we've never heard of before. To alleviate our fears, put contact information on every page if you can, with a physical mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address. If you're uncomfortable posting your business address, That's a problem, which can appear suspicious. Real companies have real addresses! Also, get a *toll-free* number! It really says "real company. " I got mine from my long distance provider, Great Kall8 (http://www.greatkall8.com), because they charge no setup fee or monthly fees,  I only pay for the incoming calls at my usual great long distance rates.

 

About the Author
Copywriter and consultant Alex Petello