Kimberlee Hayward is the new director of the Ketchikan Small Business Development Center. Hayward has been Ketchikan’s SBDC director since April but works mostly out of Anchorage until she can find permanent housing in the First City. She spoke about website design “best practices” at Wednesday’s Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Ketchikan Small Business Development Director Kimberlee Hayward.

Ketchikan Small Business Development Director Kimberlee Hayward.

Hayward has a background in information technology and marketing along with business development.  She says new tools allow anyone to create a website, but not all websites are good. Hayward says websites may be too technical, attractive but not useful, or built by those good at marketing, but not web design. She says a website needs to attract target customers.

“It’s so important to understand as a business owner that just because somebody can put up a website for you, or because you can yourself with these tools, it doesn’t mean that you have a good website. And when I say a ‘good website’, I mean a website that is going to actually market your business and bring in clients or bring in customers. That’s the end goal of a website, period.”

She says every business needs a strong marketing website where people will connect with your business personally.

News TileHayward showed examples of websites she considers too busy or too boring. She says some common mistakes are the use of poor quality or unappealing photos, animation, text that is too small and inverse font – light text on a dark background, such as white text on a black background, or yellow text on a blue background.

“When we run through studies, the brain hates that inverse font. It does not want to check in. It is hard work to do that. You never want to design lots of text with what’s called an inverse font, because people will check out of your website right away.”

She says the number one reason someone will leave a website is dense paragraphs of text whether inverse or not.

“Once they go down and layer down deeper, if there’s a lot of content, they’re willing to read. But when they come into your website, research shows us people will check out, just like that.”

Hayward says one element of a good website is hero graphics – large, attractive photos that draw people to them. If using multiple images in a slide show, photos should cross fade with fluid movement between them. She shared the story of a successful website created for a social worker. The site’s images were both dramatic and serene.

“And the direct feedback from her clients was that they went to her website, and I quote, ‘I just really liked you. I just really liked it. I don’t know why.’ It is the power of creating a website with these graphics that allow people to connect and feel.”

Hayward says it’s important to have pictures on your website and they should be images that will connect with people emotionally. She says including a personal photo and short bio will also help connect potential customers to you. She says a bio should include information about family and pets, where you live or have lived, and your hobbies.

Hayward says another important element of a good website is easy navigation.

“Making it really clear, that when somebody comes to your site, you’re giving them literally breadcrumbs to follow so they can find what it is that they need.”

Hayward says if a site is not easy to navigate, people will likely give up. She says pages should have a similar look so, as people navigate through, then they know they are still on the same website.

Hayward says they key points for a good website are to use large font and hero graphics, have easy navigation, and remember less is more.

The Ketchikan Small Business Development Center is offering a 4-hour website design class in July. For more information you can call the SBDC office at 225-1388.