Jun
27
Posted on June 27, 2013
Filed Under (Web Design) by jennifer

Your website is often the first  and only  encounter prospective customers will have with your business. So it’s important to make a good first impression. Yet so many businesses, especially small businesses, ignore or refuse to spend money on good website design. And this can be a fatal mistake.

As numerous studies have shown, how your website is laid out, what colors, fonts, and images you use (or don’t use) can mean the difference between success (low bounce and exit rates, high conversion) and failure (high abandonment, low sales). And you do not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to create a website that is both functional (easy to navigate) and attractive (easy on the eye).

Following are 11 simple tips for creating a well designed site  or improving an existing one.

1. Have a polished, professional logo – and link it to your home page.

2. Use intuitive navigation(e.g., horizontal menu at top and remembering that people read from left to right, top to bottom, like the letter Z).

3. Get rid of clutter. Excessive use of graphics and too much text distract and turn off readers. Give readers (white) space to breathe.

4. Use color strategically – to highlight items. Don’t think of your website as a coloring book.

5. Invest in professional or really good photography – and avoid those free or cheap stock images that everyone uses. Remember, visitors are more likely to judge you by your images rather than any text (no matter how clever).

6. Choose fonts that are easy to read across devices and browsers.

7. Put the most important information at or near the top of pages.

8. Design pages as if every one could be a landing page. (Not everyone is going to arrive at your site via the Home page.)

9. Say no to Flash and frames!

10. Use responsive design, i.e., design tools or a platform that automatically adjusts pages to users’ browsers.

11. Test your design – by having friends, colleagues, or paid testers review web pages and provide honest feedback.

To see full tips with explanations, read my article “13 Simple Tips for Improving Your Web Design.”

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Jun
11
Posted on June 11, 2013
Filed Under (Advice, Finance, General Business) by jennifer

The following is a guest post from Financial Journalist Doreen Oppenheimer.

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Choosing which credit card to use for your small business can be a difficult decision for entrepreneurs. While there are no shortage of credit card options, you want to choose the one (or possibly two) that best suits your particularly needs or desires be it low interest rates, a cash-back program or frequent flyer miles or reward points, no annual card fees, or discounts on gas and/or office furniture.

To help make the decision process a little bit easier, here are four small business credit cards that can help you save money and earn points.

American Express Plum Card

Many of the AMEX small business credit cards are perfect for startups. The American Express Plum Card offers cardholders flexible payment options and offers rewards for paying early. For every statement paid early, cardholders earn a 1.5 percent discount off the next billing statement, which could equal big money. For instance, if your business charged $100,000 for the month, you would receive a $1,500 discount on the next statement. Talk about the great news for small businesses! With the Plum Card, you can also opt to take up to 60 days to pay without interest. The annual fee is waived for the first year; however after that it’s $250 annually.

Capital One Venture Card

The Capital One Venture Card is great if you are looking for a card offering rewards, including travel. There’s no annual fee during the first year — and the fee is only $59 each year after. If you spend at least $1,000 during the first three months of obtaining your card, you’ll receive a $100 bonus (or possibly 10,000 or more rewards points, depending on the offer). Among the benefits of using the Venture card is the Purchase Eraser tool, which allows you to use points to reimburse yourself for travel-related expenses. You can also use your rewards points to purchase gift cards (perfect for end-of-year gifts to employees) or merchandise.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers new costumers a great incentive to join. During the first three months if you rack up at least $3,000, you’ll be rewarded 40,000 bonus points, which are redeemable for $500 in travel rewards or a $400 statement credit. And the perks don’t end there. Benefits include: two points per dollar on travel and dining purchases, one point per dollar on all other purchases, and a 20 percent discount on travel purchases when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals, and cruises — great perks for those who frequently travel for business. Also, during the first year, there’s no annual fee (though after that the annual fee is $95.)

SimplyCash Business Card from American Express

If you love cash incentives, then the American Express SimplyCash Business Card may be the right option for you. During the first year, there’s zero APR on all purchases and no annual membership fee. Cardholders will receive 5 percent cash back on all office supplies as well as mobile purchases, 3 percent back on all gasoline charges, and 1 percent back on all other purchases. And if during your first year you spend at least $12,000, you will be rewarded with 1 percent back annually.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: After looking at various credit cards for my new online retail business, Prepster Pineapple, I went with the Merrill Rewards for Business VISA Signature Card. Primarily, I chose this card because I am a Merrill Lynch customer and Merrill made it easy for me. The benefits: the card has no annual fee, allows me to earn rewards, offers 24/7 concierge service (handy when on the road), and I can order additional cards for employees. Definitely a card to consider if you are a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch Customer.    — Jennifer L. Schiff

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