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How Do I Decide What My Website Should Look Like?

Start with your competition, and think about how you will differentiate yourself. Then branch out and look at industries that might have a style you like. Do you like classic lines? Try searching for high-end furniture galleries. Do you like hip and urban? Try some of the fashionable restaurants in your town. Prefer the fresh and clean look? Search for natural health and skin care sites. Bonsai

If you’ve collected a stack of business cards over the years, pick out the ones you like that have websites and take a look. Take your favorite magazines and look at the advertising section. Scan the ads and if anything stylish catches your eye, look up their website.

Pay attention to your initial reaction, but also spend some time getting to know the site. Is it compelling? Does it seem like it would appeal to your target audience? If you were looking for something specific, would it be easy to find on this site?

The best way to develop ideas about design is to simply pay attention. Design is all around you–on every product package, in every newspaper and magazine, and in every television commercial. Notice the designs that attract you and resonate with what your company is about.

Even though your site may be small, be sure to look at the large retailers like Target and Amazon.com to study their checkout flow and usability. Thousands of people buy from these sites each day, and they have done research into how to make things effortless for their customers. You can also get an idea of the kind of websites that your customers will be familiar with using for online shopping.

While you are looking at websites, bookmark ones that have a writing style that you like as well, to help inspire you when you are writing your content.

Need more help planning your website?
My printer-friendly Website Planning Worksheet asks all the major questions you need to be organized and prepared for your website design or redesign.

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