Find this page online at: http://developers.evrsoft.com/article/web-design/content-webmaster-issues/creating-a-professional-web-presence.shtml

Creating a professional web presence

By James Tong
Posted Friday, October 1, 2004

How to project a favorable "first Impression" on the world wide web.......

We try very hard to be successful in life. Some of us attempt to achieve success in any way we can, no matter what the cost. To be successful professionally, we must understand the effects of having a "Professional Image".
In today's business world, image has taken on a new importance. Having a professional image gives you the competitive edge.

The way you look is crucial to making you a winner or a loser in life. Your appearance greatly influences the way you feel about yourself.

Studies by psychologists have confirmed that:

Looking terrific on the outside makes you feel terrific inside. These positive feelings tend to inspire self-confidence, vitality and peak performance in a person.
If you feel you look good, you will project a lot of self confidence and tend to perform better in your work.
When you look your best, you feel your best, so you do your best, probably because you know everyone is watching you. And nothing lifts your spirits higher or gives you more confidence, than knowing others appreciate how great you look.
Generally, people from all walks of life are becoming more aware of the options in improving their appearance. But in the world of business on the World Wide Web, professional image is often neglected.
Just surf around the Internet, and you will observe websites without any professional image or appearance. The colors of homepages do not complement each other. Instead, they turn you off. You just don't feel like browsing the entire web page. The elements of contents and animated graphic images are distracting, rather than welcoming and projecting the business objective of your website.

In cyberspace, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Did you know that the average person makes as many as 40 distinct decisions about you through your website, in the first few minutes after your homepage opens in front of them?

How your website looks, its logo and masthead, the animated graphics, images or icons, background color, overall page designs, size and color of fonts, banners, navigational links, and web page loading time among others, is on trial in these first two or three minutes.

Creating a professional web image takes time, careful planning and consideration. Here are some guidelines to help you:

1) Do you own a domain name? What is your URL -
(http://www.your-business-name.com) or
(http://www.other-people's-business name.com/your-business-name)
Having your own domain gives you a professional image, that you are serious about your business. On the other hand, having a website that resides in someone else's domain portrays you as a newcomer, an opportunist, and quite possibly, someone not serious enough or committed with the business.

2) Do you have a professional business reflected in your domain name?
Having a professional business name gives a very good impression of you and your business. It portrays that you are serious, responsible, honest, and sincere in your business.
For example, I chose cybermultipreneurs.com. It brings out a message that says that I am an online entrepreneur, running different businesses and providing professional services resulting in multiple sources of income.

To name it otherwise, e.g., Makemoremoneynow.com, Multiplesourcesofincome.com, Alotofmoney4you.com or Money4youandme.com, may portray you as an opportunist, a newcomer, or possibly a scammer.

A carefully thought-out name brings you value in the long term. It generates visitors with inquiries about what you do. Your replies, in turn, convert these inquirers into customers.

3) Is your overall website design welcoming?
As a rule of thumb when designing my own website is, if my web design does not generate a favorable impression on myself within 2-3 minutes, I have to spend more time improving on it.
Here's a checklist I develop to help guide me in my web designing:

The logo and masthead should be professional looking, and its colors soothing and welcoming to the eyes. We should realize that individual colors have an effect on people. Different colors indicate different characters and personalities, or activate different feelings in people.
Animated graphic images should not be too distracting to the overall design.
There should not be too many banners on any single web page.
Navigational links should tell visitors how and where to find sought after information.
The overall web design, especially in the color and size of fonts, should not create a "shouting effect" to the readers.
The background images should be simple and not one with special effects such as "java lake effects", or "java applets" that certain web browsers cannot read, or one that makes the text seem 'lost', or unreadable.
The overall color schemes should complement each other and be soothing to the eyes, rather than having them clash with each other.
The loading of your web page should generally, not take more than 15 seconds. It has been found that the majority of people do not have much patience. They tend to move to another site when they are made to wait too long. This will cause you to lose potential customers.
The above guidelines have helped me tremendously, in designing my website. Pay a visit to (http://www.cybermultipreneurs.com/) and you will observe that the overall web design does not distract the attention of my visitors from my business objectives.

4) Do you publish an electronic newsletter that provides beneficial contents and resources to your readers?
Having an electronic publication, projects you as being a knowledgeable professional in your area of business. Having a professionally designed newsletter, projects you as somebody who is knowledgeable, and with helpful resources to offer. It gives confidence to your potential customers.
In conclusion, having a domain with a professional name immediately shows that you are a true entrepreneur and that you mean business. A carefully designed website instills more confidence in your visitors. Your professionally designed electronic newsletter confirms your credibility.
The most important first impression is that people don't care how much you know, or who you are, until they know that you are an entrepreneur with credibility, sincerity and integrity. It should project you with a professional image and show that you have a lot to offer.

Does your professional image project you as a solution to someone else's problem through your business, or does it only show you as someone who will take advantage of others because of financial gains?

Your potential customers will view you and your business through the first impression. They will need to feel that they can trust you, before they will want to know more about you or your business.

About the Author
James Tong (cybermultipreneur), is a teacher, coach and consultant to home-based enterprises in the Asia Pacific Region. He is also the author of a host of articles and reports on various topics. Visit (http://www.cybermultipreneurs.com/) for more information on his work and electronic publications.
To benefit from his insight on successful home-based entrepreneurship, get a Free Subscription to CyberMultipreneurs eJournal Today! To subscribe to CyberMultipreneurs ejournal, put the word SUBSCRIBE in the body of an email to: cmej@oaknetpub.com