ELEMENTS OF AN ATTRACTIVE WEBSITE

ELEMENTS OF AN ATTRACTIVE WEBSITE
Your website is your digital image and the front door of your business. It presents your “curb appeal.” It is the first the impression of you and your business. Understanding what you need to make a good impression is imperative when putting together your website.

 

For we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord's sight but also in the sight of man.

2 Corinthians 8:21

 

Even if you aren’t into having a website and your cousin's daughter offered to build your site for free, it is still important. You want to practice excellence in every part of your business because, ultimately, you are working for the Lord!

 

Elements of an attractive website include –

 

One of the first things to consider about your website is appearance. Have you ever walked into a Wal-Mart and the aisles are strewn with pallets and pallets of stock? Have you been in your favorite store after a major holiday sale and it just looks messy? First impressions work the same with websites. How things seem to influence the potential for bringing a person deeper into your website. Let’s consider the following aspects of appearance when you (or someone else) is building your website.

 

  • Color - There is much to be said about color and the mood it evokes. You can discover what color means and how it makes you feel with a simple color search on Google.  Consider the mood you want your visitors to have when they come to your website. Choose colors that blend - they can be contrasting or complimentary colors. (Think of the colors of the NACWE logo. The red and yellow are complimentary. The turquoise is contrasting.) Stick to two of three colors. Be sure your bolder colors don’t distract from the written content - make sure the colors are dark enough to read.

 

  • Font - There seem to be as many font choices as there are color choices. When choosing your font consider what you would be willing to stare at for an hour. It needs to be readable. Also, consider font size and the age and demographics of your audience. Font size suggestions range from 12pt to 14pt type size for paragraphs, larger for headings.

 

  • Photography - We are visual. Therefore quality photography is a must. Dimly lit photos are distracting and less professional. There are many completely free website resources for quality photographs like
    • morguefile.com - there is an array of photos here. You will have to do some sorting and editing to choose the best ones.
    • unsplash.com - This website is updated every ten days with new pics. The photos are beautiful. The search feature is decent. You will also have to choose the most appropriate of the best photos.
    • gratisography.com - This site offers more quirky choices. It comes across as a one-person operation. However, that doesn’t compromise the quality of the pictures.
    • Let us know where you go for free photos!

 

  • Graphics & Video - Video is very popular right now. It doesn’t take the place of written content on a website. However, it is an attractive added value to blog posts, front pages and about pages. People want to know who they are dealing with, especially if your business is online only. However, make watching a video an optional once in a while. Don’t force your visitors to sit through somethingELEMENTS OF AN ATTRACTIVE WEBSITE. Graphics, like infographics, are also popular. However, don’t overuse them and keep them simple. Flashing and moving graphics are old fashion and distracting. Too many pictures, graphics or videos can distract the reader from their purpose.

 

  • Simplicity - Keep is simple. Don’t overcrowd your pages. Leave white space. Busy and overcrowded pages distract visitors from the content you want them to see. Every single page of your website needs to have a sole purpose, keeping things streamlined in your design and flow of the website. It will also keep your readers focused on what you want them to know.

These few points are the beginning of what you need to know to maintain a professional and appealing website. You want your visitors to come. You want them to stay. You want them to come back again - just like you would a guest in your storefront. Visitors who come and stay invest! Visitors who come back usually bring a friend!

Don’t overlook or neglect your online presence which makes you available, ultimately, to a worldwide market. Keep that website up and running and looking great.

What is one thing you found that works best regarding the appearance of your website?

Blessing

Lord, help us to focus clearly on the purpose of our businesses and communicate this goal clearly online. May all we do please You! Amen!

 

Basics of Becoming a Writer – Part One

Become a writer“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two elements that I'm aware of, no shortcut.”

S. King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

 

You have started your business and have the all-too-real awareness that you are now required to write. At a minimum, you probably need to write your business bio. If you are creating a website, you will have a lot more to write, or you will have to hire someone to do it for you. But, before you do that, consider these basics of becoming a writer.

 

All of us have the ability to write. My first piece of advice is to stop freaking out about writing. If you can talk - you can write. At first, it may need some editing, but if you can string your ideas together and tell someone about yourself or your business, you can write. Here are practical approaches to getting started, composing and improving your writing.

 

Getting started.

 

Many professional writers will tell you the hardest part is getting started. For some it is the blank page, for others, it is the act of putting yourself in front of the screen and actually typing. Procrastination is one of the most common reasons for not finishing your writing. So to get started follow these tips.

 

Brainstorm to get going.

 

I love to brainstorm everything. I will do it from everything from business strategy to meal planning. Brainstorming is way to get all the ideas out of your head and on a piece of paper of on the screen. Don’t hold back when you brainstorm. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. It doesn’t matter if it sounds like the worst idea on the planet it gets spit out of your head and onto the page. Don’t judge anything while you are brainstorm. This is counterproductive and will freeze you up.

 

You can set a timer for a set period while you have a personal brainstorm session. You can also work with another person or a group of people. No matter who you work with, same rules apply. Everything gets written down, nothing gets judged as useless, stupid or off topic.

 

Once time is up, then review your ideas. Determine which ones you will keep, which ones are irrelevant and which ones should be revisited later. This is also a great way to always have ideas so if writer’s block sneaks up on you there is fodder for content.

 

Look for inspiration.

 

This can be tricky. All of us have done it. We think I will just go on Facebook or Pinterest for a second. I just need to clear my head or get a little inspiration. Then we get sucked in and three hours later nothing is done. We are frustrated and we still haven’t started our writing. (I have definitely been there -- it is my go-to procrastination technique. Shhh- don’t tell.)

 

There is something to be said for seeking inspiration when you are getting started. Setting limits to seeking inspiration is a great way to make sure you stay on track and get started. Get out your handy dandy timer and put a limit on your search. When I go looking to be inspired, I have some go to sites. I love looking up quotes and scripture.

 

Another way I get inspired is to get away from the gadgets. Go outside. Take a walk. Stare at the trees. Take off your shoes and walk in the grass. Observe the nature around you. Mediate on the wonder and miracles of God in your surroundings.

 

Start with pen and paper.

 

As old fashion as it sounds there is something that happens in your brain when you put pencil to paper. There are times when I want to use the computer to write. I use the computer when I know exactly what I want to write and it’s all mapped out in my head. I also use the computer when I am writing for business.

 

However, my prayer journal is all pen and paper. Things I write for myself are often on pen and paper. Some of my best writing starts out in my journal or as a personal struggle I am working through. This is a way to slow down, connect with your ideas and your words. It is also a great way to connect with God and the Holy Spirit. It gives you the opportunity to listen as your write.

 

Start simple with your writing.

 

Don’t go for perfection. Don’t go for a pulitzer prize winning piece of literature. Just start simple. Start with short simple sentences. They will create short simple paragraphs. Simple is the best way to get your ideas out of your head and onto paper.

 

When you are getting started with writing you want to aim for finished. Unedited-error ridden-spelling goofs-punctuation omissions-forgotten caps rough draft. A rough draft is a finished draft. You can’t get close to finishing until you get a rough draft.

Your Online Presence – Communicating Online

It is a pretty well-known fact that your online existence is essential to building a business in modern times. Your online presence is a way of communicating your brand, services, and products.

The PC has improved the world in just about every area you can think of.

Amazing developments in communications, collaboration, and efficiencies.

New kinds of entertainment and social media.

Access to information and the ability to give a voice to people who would never have been heard.  - Bill Gates

 

Communicating Online

There are different outlets for communicating online. We are not limited to getting our news and entertainment just from magazines and newspapers anymore. Expert advice and instruction were once only the information of specialty books. Scholarly input was once only found in niche journals. Today, we have a myriad of information troves and treasures at our fingertips.

Because so much is so readily available, we have to consider under what conditions we communicate in the virtual world. It is a real community, and we are representing Christ there. We must be careful not to disconnect from the humans connected to the screens, profile pics and comments we see online.

Communicating Online - Building and keeping a good reputation

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

Proverbs 22:1

Just as in real life, you are responsible for your reputation online. If you are in the process of building a business, consider these points

  • Pictures - This is a tricky topic because social media is often based on the pictures we post. Everything centers around how good you look. However, it is bigger than just having a nice profile pic. While sincerity and authenticity are paramount to building a following ( a tribe), editing which events you post is also important for the safety and security of you and your family and of your business. Strongly consider the kinds of pictures you post of your children and family. You might be comfortable with the exposure - they may not. Also, consider pictures you post which have controversial content. Believe it or not, depending on your business, that picture of you on summer vacation in a swimsuit can cause an uproar. Are you willing to deal with the comments?
  • Comments - When someone is trying to figure out if you are for real, they will investigate. They will read comments you have left. They will check out the interactions you’ve had with others online. They may even engage to see how you respond to them. Never forget, no matter how another person acts, you are still talking to a real person, with feelings, with problems, and with their issues of brokenness. It is in the commenting and interaction where you can mirror Christ. How would He respond?
  • Privacy - Learn how to adjust the privacy settings on your social media accounts. Find out how to delete someone and how to block someone if necessary. These parameters are useful for safeguarding your family and business from those individuals who are acting inappropriately or trying to take advantage of your platform. Decide what action you will take in these situations before it happens.

Your Online Presence - Communicating OnlineCommunicating Online - Vulnerability sells, but has limitations.

In all circumstances, especially online, authenticity and sincerity are recommended. Tell your story, because you have a story to tell and someone needs to hear it. Being yourself draws people to you. Humans seek connection. We are designed to be in community. We are created for relationship.

You cannot make real connections without being real. And being real means being vulnerable. It means taking off the mask and getting truthful about your story. This is easier to do when there is some distance between you and the most painful or the hardest parts of your story. However, it still means putting the softer parts of you out there. So, how do you find balance with vulnerability?

Finding the balance with vulnerability is very personal and very individual.

Start with only telling your story. Use caution when talking about other people’s stories!

Consider how tender you are when telling parts of your story. Do you still cry? If someone responds with criticism or doubt to your story, does it wound you? If so, those parts should be told carefully and sparingly until you feel more healed.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31 ESV

Don’t tell your story with vulnerability if you are looking for validation. Validation and meaning can only come from the Lord. He is the one who gives meaning to your life and all things in it. Do not look for this from your followers or you will be disappointed.

Communicating Online

Being online, having an online presence means you are communicating online. You are never NOT communicating; you are either communicating poorly or communicating well. But you are communicating! As in all we do, as Christian entrepreneurs who are leaders, we must consider how God would have us do things. With a little thought, prayer, and guidance from the Holy Spirit you can make your online business presence an accurate extension of your real life business presence with dignity and finesse!

Your Online Presence - Communicating Online

Your Online Presence – Your website is a storefront, a first impression and a doorway for your customers

your online presenceIt doesn’t matter if you are a brick and mortar business or you are an entirely virtual and online business, your online presence matters. That’s where people are! According to the World Internet Usage and Population Statistics, there were 320,068,243 internet users in North America in March 2017. Multiply that number by 6 for Asia. YEP! That’s where people are – ONLINE! That’s where we need to be as Christian Entrepreneurs.

These are some basics of your online existence.

“You can never go wrong by investing in communities and the human beings within them.”

Pam Moore CEO & Founder, Marketing Nutz

The internet is an extension of the community in which you live. If you have a brick and mortar business, it is essential to extend your presence in the community through engaging with your community online. If you have an online business, you also need to have a clearly defined and active presence online. Start with a website.

Your Online Presence Basics - You need a great website.

In our digital and smartphone times, we are always on the go. We have information at our fingertips. We have a tendency to research more. We make more price comparisons, and we read reviews more than ever. You need a website because no one uses the yellow pages anymore to find goods or services and because that’s where people are!

Word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways to advertise and acquire customers. These days, word of mouth is happening online. When you have a website, you can help direct that conversation. Your site provides a landing place for any social media links and any blog posts or articles you post about your business. Your website is a capsule of all you offer, how you offer it and where to get it. Your online storefront is a first impression and a doorway for your customers.

Your Online Presence Basics - Social media networking is imperative.

One of the most overlooked aspects of social media is the fact that it is an active and engaged community. Finding your niche or tribe and creating a following is an excellent way to grow your business and get people talking about you and your business. It is a way for you to show up, interact, and make yourself real to potential customers. It helps create brand loyalty when people know who is behind what they are buying. You have the ability to control and highly influence the social media community you are a part of and that you create. It is an excellent way to make yourself known, and it allows you to go deeper. Social media gives you an outlet to express and apply your vision and mission. It also gives you the opportunity to show followers how Christian Entrepreneurs do business.

your online presenceYour Online Presence Basics - Blogs are an extension of your voice.

It doesn’t matter what you are selling or how you are selling it; blogs are a sales platform. They are an extension of your voice, your mission, your vision, and the voice of Christ in you. Blogs are a space you control. You can talk about your product and how it fits into your life and your potential customer’s life. Blogs can be used to give detailed testimonials or case studies. Blogs can also be used to inform and encourage. You started your business because you wanted something more. You felt a pull to something bigger. A blog on your website is a place to grow into that something bigger. Blogs can be personalized and managed by you. You chose how often you write about your products and services. You chose how much you talk about God. You chose how people interact with you on your blog. You get to direct the conversation. It is a controlled environment. With the right strategy, blogs are great sales tools and community builders.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 ESV

Your Online Presence Basics - Community is the foundation.

The point of having an online presence is to build a community around your business and your brand. Keeping a balanced perspective of it being about you and being about your customer is important. We are not meant to maneuver through this life alone. Anytime you can encourage another by identifying with them or helping them solve a problem; you are building community. You are doing it the way Jesus wants you to. Everything you do online is about building community. There are real people behind the pictures, comments, and questions. Treating them as if you were face to face with them builds trust. It also lets people know who you are because ultimately the first thing you sell is yourself.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV

My Prayer for your Online Presence

Lord Jesus,

Please give us wisdom to accurately represent You and our businesses online. Help us to maintain integrity and excellence in the online community as we do in our real life community. Point us in the direction which is best for our businesses, best for our communities, and best for our lives to glorify You in all we do.

In Jesus name – Amen

 

Truth is Relevant to Business

Truth has many uses that denote various meanings. Some say truth is relevant according to the situation. However, one of the greatest logical thinkers of all time, Plato, who, correct me if I’m wrong, wasn’t a Christian and yet, he understood TRUTH in its purest form.

“Truth is not relative, or any belief would be as valid as a contradictory belief.” — Plato

Business at Your Best is a blog devotional series that gives us an opportunity to examine our business practices against God's wisdom and guidance.

TODAY we’re taking a look at the Truth in regards to our business. Let’s begin with a working definition.

What is the Truth?

  1. Sincerity in action, character, and utterance
  2. The state of being the case; fact
  3. The body of real things, events, and facts; actuality
  4. A transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality
  5. The property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality
  6. Fidelity to an original or a standard

Truth is God

“Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, You would have known my Father also. From now on you know him and have seen him” (John 14:6–7).

Jesus is truth. God is truth. God made us in his image. Therefore, we are called to live in the truth. We know that telling the truth is always the right thing to do but sometimes fiction is easier to share or it seems like it's more beneficial at the moment. As a result, fact and fiction get muddled. Here’s a parable that shows us how that might happen.

The Story of Truth and Parable

Once upon a time, Truth went about the streets as naked as the day he was born. As a result, no one would let him into their homes. Whenever people caught sight of him, they turned away and fled.
One day when Truth was sadly wandering about, he came upon Parable.

Now, Parable was dressed in splendid clothes of beautiful colors. And Parable, seeing Truth, said, "Tell me, neighbor, what makes you look so sad?" Truth replied bitterly, "Ah brother, things are bad. Very bad. I'm old, very old, and no one wants to acknowledge me. No one wants anything to do with me."

Hearing that, Parable said, "People don't run away from you because you're old, I too am old. Very old. But the older I get, the better people like me. I'll tell you a secret: Everyone likes things disguised and prettied up a bit. Let me lend you some splendid clothes like mine, and you'll see that the very people who pushed you aside will invite you into their homes and be glad of your company."

Truth took Parable's advice and put on the borrowed clothes. And from that time on, Truth and Parable have gone hand in hand. — Yiddish Folktales, Pantheon Books, New York

How can we sort out fact from fiction?

The obvious answer is read God's word and do what he says. It isn't always that clear because our hearts get in the way. Let me introduce you to a friend of mine, Grace Lot. Grace has been kind enough to share her story about fact vs. fiction and how the internal tension affects her.

Grace, admits that telling the truth isn’t always easy even when she knows she should. She said, "I am most often tempted to hide or twist the truth when I fear losing something important to me. My thoughts sound like this..."

  • If you see the real me, then I might get rejected.
  • Revealing my finances to the bank might prevent me from getting the loan I need to expand my business.
  • If a social media follower discovers my past, then she might spread the truth about me and destroy the business I’ve worked so hard to build.

The tempting voice in your mind may sound different from Grace’s, but we’ve all felt the urge to avoid the truth at some time or another. In my life, I am usually wrestling with a foundational dilemma — can I live my life under God’s rule or should I work out my life the way I want?

What's the most important step in choosing fact over fiction?

I asked Grace how she works through her temptations. She said, "I have to go back to God’s word, usually spend time repenting but most of all, I have to set my mind on believing what God tells me more than what my inner desires want."

The mot important step if we are to keep truth in control of our businesses is to believe God when he says:

  • We remain accepted by Him when we're rejected for who we are.
  • God has something better in mind for us if our business can’t expand at the moment.
  • He will show us something good about himself through the process if we lose followers because our past has been brought to the present.

The fall flipped every good thing God had made upside down, which included the need to understand the importance of truth in our lives."

Thankfully, God gave us his word as part of his redemptive plan to flip right side up all the wrongs from the fall.

"O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the Lord; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.” — Psalm 15

Telling the truth, living the truth makes us strong.

How can we apply God's view of the truth to our businesses?

  1. Determine to listen and believe God.
  2. Meditate on his word and ask for his Spirit to guide us.
  3. Pray.
  4. Reflect on our businesses in light of God' word.

MEDITATION

Let's spend a few moments with the Lord and open our hearts to the Spirit’s guidance about our businesses in light of his Truth.

  1. "These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another; render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace; do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath, for all these things I hate, declares the Lord.” — Zachariah 8:16-17
  2. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." — Philippians 4:8
  3. "The crown of the wise is their wealth, but the folly of fools brings folly. A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful. In fear of the Lord, one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge.” —Proverbs 14:24-26

PRAYER

Dear Honest Father,

Please show me where my heart and mind are afraid to line up with your truth. Create in me a clean heart that will honor you under all kinds of circumstances. When I feel the threat of losing something dear to me, help me remember I will stand firm if I do what is right, speak the truth in my heart and do not slander with my tongue.

Love,
Your daughter in Christ

REFLECTION

  1. What is truth?
  2. What kind of situation makes it easier for you to twist the truth?
  3. How does the hiding the truth affect our businesses?
  4. What fruit can we expect when we choose the truth in our businesses?

NEXT TIME

The next time we’re together, we’ll take a look at wisdom and consider how it affects our businesses.

Truth by grace,

Truth