Choose & Use the Best Colors, The Psychology of Color

Are you using the best colors for your web site? Many web designers often overlook the issues of color in web design. When choosing colors for your web site there are three main areas that should be addressed.

  1. The psychological effect of colors,
  2. The effect on the readability of your site, and
  3. The complementary choice of colors for your background, graphics, links, and text

These are all areas that must be well satisfied to create an effective and professional web site.

Listed below are a few characteristics of color that should always be considered when designing your graphics.

Colors have an effect on our emotions within 90 seconds of viewing.

Color choices can motivate, impress, and persuade your prospect to buy from you.

Colors not only intensify the item, they greatly influence our behavior.

The effects of color differ among different cultures.

Color choices alone are sending a specific message to your viewers.

Given the fact that people respond more to non-verbal cues than verbal cues, it’s all-important that you choose the corresponding colors for the emotional trigger you want to trip. The following colors are associated with certain emotions or qualities in North American culture.

White – Suggests truthfulness, purity, clean, devotion, mild, and contemporary. White is the best color for a background color on the web. For business it can be refreshing and sterile.

Black – Suggests elegance, boldness, power, authority, seductive, evil, sophistication and classic. Black is the ideal choice for text on a light background. It is hard on the eyes when used as a background on web sites.

Red – Suggests strength, sex, excitement, passion, speed, danger, aggressiveness, and demands attention. In business it is associated with debt. Red is the most emotionally intense color. It stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing.

Blue – Suggests security, trust, reliability, coolness, faithfulness, belonging, and dignity. Blue is the most popular color. It is the second most popular color. In business it suggests fiscal responsibility and sanctuary.

Green – Suggests abundance, health, fertility, freedom, healing, nature, growth, jealously, and cool. In business it suggests status and wealth. It is the easiest color on the eye.

Brown – Suggests effectiveness, politeness, richness, and helpfulness. Brown is the color of earth, and is abundant in nature.

Gray – Suggests earnestness, authority, and practicality. In business it suggests traditional and conservative.

Pink – Suggests softness, sweet, femininity, well-being, innocence, and nurture.

Purple – Suggests dignity, spirituality, royal, luxury, wealth, authority, mournfulness, and sophistication. In business it is upscale. Purple is favored by the artistic.

Orange – Suggests playfulness, pleasure, cool, warmth, cheer, vibrant, strength, endurance, and ambition.

Yellow – Suggests sunshine, warmth, cheer, happiness, cowardice, and jealousy. In business it is appealing to intellectual types and is good for accents. Yellow enhances concentration, increases metabolism, and is the most difficult color for the eye to take in.

Gold – Suggests expensive, and prestige.

Silver – Suggests cold, scientific, and prestige.

Whenever you begin to choose your colors, think about your target market. What emotions do you want to evoke? Give some thought to the current emotion of your prospect and to the message you want to send. Then choose your colors.

What Does Your Website Say About Your Business?

QUESTION:
My business is very small, just me and two employees, and our product really can’t be sold online. Do I really need a website? — Robin C.

ANSWER:
Congratulations, Robin, you are the one millionth person to ask me that question. Smile for the cameras, brush the streamers and confetti from your hair and listen closely, because I’m about to answer for the millionth time what has become one of the most important and often-asked questions of the digital business age.

Before I answer, however, let’s flash back to the very first time I was asked this question. It was circa 1998, during the toddler years of the Internet, just after Al Gore laid claim to having given birth to the concept a few short years before.

I was giving a speech on the impact of the Internet on small business at an association luncheon in Montgomery, Alabama. My motto then was: Feed me and I will speak. I have the same motto today, but I now expect dessert to be included in exchange for the sharing of my vast wisdom.

In 1998, which was decades ago in Internet years, the future of electronic commerce or “ecommerce” as it’s come to be known, was anybody’s guess, but even the most negative futurists agreed that all the signs indicated that a large portion of future business revenues would be derived from online transactions, or from offline transactions that were the result of online marketing efforts.

So, Robin, should your business have a website, even if your business is small and sells products or services that you don’t think can be sold online? My answer in 1998 is the same as my answer today: Yes, if you have a business, you should have a website. Period. No question. Without a doubt. Thank you, drive through. Now serving customer number one million and one?

Also, don’t be so quick to dismiss your product as one that can’t be sold online. Nowadays there is very little that cannot be sold over the Internet. More than 20 million shoppers are now online, purchasing everything from books to computers to cars to real estate to jet airplanes to natural gas to you name it. If you can imagine it, someone will figure out how to sell it online.

Internet marketing research firms predict that online revenues will range between $180 and $200 billion dollars in 2004. They also predict that the number of online consumers will grow at a rate of 30-50% over the next few years. These numbers alone should be enough to convince you that your business should have a website.

Let me clarify one point: I am not saying that you should put all your efforts into selling your wares over the Internet, though if your product lends itself to easy online sales, you certainly should be considering it.

The point to be made here is that you should at the very least have a presence on the World Wide Web so that customers, potential employees, business partners, and perhaps even investors can quickly and easily find out more about your business and the products or services you have to offer.

That said, it’s not enough that you just have a website. You must have a professional looking website if you want to be taken seriously. Since many consumers now search for information online prior to making a purchase at a brick and mortar store, your website may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer. If your website looks like it was designed by a barrel of colorblind monkeys, your chance at making a good first impression will be lost.

One of the great things about the Internet is that it has leveled the playing field when it comes to competing with the big boys. As mentioned, you have one shot at making a good first impression and with a well-designed website; your little operation can project the image and professionalism of a much larger company.

The inverse is also true. I’ve seen many big company websites that were so badly designed and hard to navigate that they completely lacked professionalism and credibility. Good for you, too bad for them. You also mention that yours is a small operation, but when it comes to benefiting from a website, size does not matter. I don’t care if you are a one-man show or a ten thousand employee corporate giant; if you do not have a website you are losing business to other companies that do.

Here’s the exception to my rule: It’s actually better to have no website at all than to have one that makes your business look bad.

Your website speaks volumes about your business. It either says, “Hey, look, we take our business so seriously that we have created this wonderful website for our customers!” or it says, “Hey, look, I let my ten-year old nephew design my site! Good luck finding anything!”

How To Give Your Business Credibility

Let’s face it. Buying products and services from the Internet can be a bit intimidating.

You may have no idea where the online merchant is located. You may not know how safe your personal and credit card information will be.

You may be unsure if you’ll even get the product or what to do if the product is broken when it arrives at your door.

These types of concerns are what you are up against when you sell products from a website.

Here some tips to build credibility with potential customers.

1. Include all your contact information on your homepage. Your phone and fax numbers, e-mail address, etc. List the hours you’re available to take customers’ phone calls.

2. Offer a money-back guarantee. This is a must, especially if you’re selling higher price items. Mention your guarantee at least a couple of times in your copy.

The more details you give about your guarantee the more comfortable your prospect will feel. Your guarantee should be valid for at least 30 days after the purchase and it’s best to have a “no-questions-asked” return policy.

Be prompt in refunding the customer’s money

3. Tell your site visitors how their credit card and personal information will be protected if they buy from you.

Do you use a secure,encrypted server to process their transaction? Tell them. I have this info spelled out right below the “Buy Now” button on my website.

If you use a online credit card processing company like PayPal, be sure to include the credit card buyer protection policy and merchant verification process. People want to know how they’ll be protected against credit card fraud.

My credit card processing company, PaySystems (http://www.revecom.com) has a 100% guarantee against credit card fraud. Customers can click on hyperlink to read the guarantee before they actually fill out any credit card and personal information.

4. Use testimonials from satisfied customers. Nothing helps sell a product like a happy buyer. The more detailed the testimonial the better. Be sure to get your customer’s permission before you quote him or her in your marketing material.

Always use the customer’s first and last name, company name and title (if applicable) and their location.

I think you’re less likely to believe a testimonial if it’s just signed “J. Doe” instead of “John Doe, President, XYZ Company, Houston, Texas.”

5. List your credentials or experience on your website or in your ezine. Again, the key is the more a customer knows about who they are dealing with, the more assured they going to feel doing business with you.

By putting these suggestions into action, you’re bound to have a happy group of customers. And good “word-of-mouth” is the cheapest, and most effective form of advertising.

Meta Tags – An Introduction

A long, long time ago? In a galaxy far, far away?meta tags were the key component to search engine rankings. Okay, it was about 2 years ago, but that’s a long time in the Internet galaxy. Although still relevant, the evil empire?er, Darth Google, has led a movement by the search engines to de-emphasize their importance. Despite this effort, meta tags are still important. They represent the only method for a site owner to exert some control over how pages are listed in search engine results.

What The Heck Is A Meta Tag?

Meta tags are html code blocks that “tell” a search engine what a particular site page is about. Meta tags are not visible on the pages of your site. You can, however, see them for most sites by clicking the “view” and then “source” tab on the Explorer Browser.

Meta tags can be difficult to explain, so let’s take a look at one of our client’s sites.

BusinessTaxRecovery.com is listed in the number 1 position on Yahoo and MSN if you do a search for “business tax articles.” The specific page is:

http://www.businesstaxrecovery.com/articles

The meta tags for this page are:

Business Tax Articles

The meta title is a critical factor in controlling where your site is listed in search engines. The title should consist of the keywords being emphasized on the page. In this case, we are trying to come up under searches for “business tax articles”. Since the page actually lists such articles, the meta tag is simply “business tax articles”.

Importantly, the meta title will be underlined in the search results. A search for business tax articles on Yahoo finds our client in the number 1 position. The link looks like this:

BUSINESS TAX ARTICLES [underlined] Business tax articles, IRS news and more. Turn overlooked deductions and credits into business tax refunds at businesstaxrecovery.com. … BUSINESS TAX ARTICLES. Business tax articles are added every week, so make sure to bookmark this page … www.businesstaxrecovery.com/articles.php

Meta Description Tag

The meta description tag appears under the title in the search engine results. Returning to our previous example, the meta description is the text that is not underlined. Essentially, meta descriptions expand on the meta title and give the search engine more keywords to consider.

One of the aggravating things about search engines is how they use meta descriptions. Most pick only certain sections of your description. When your link appears in the search results, the description may make little if any sense. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about it.

Meta Keywords

Historically, meta keywords were the single most important factor to getting your site ranked under the correct keywords. How times have changed. Google doesn’t even look at them, while MSN and Yahoo give them little value. All and all, they are fairly unimportant, but you should still add them to your meta tags. If nothing else, it forces you to focus on the keywords you should have on the page.

In closing, every page of your site should have at least a meta title and description. Although their value has diminished, they are still an important factor in the search engine optimization process.

Making Good Websites that Stand Out

Websites, there’s literally billions of them out there in cyber-space. How many of them do you go to and just think this is boring, bland, or hard to use? It seems like too many to mention. So what makes a good website? I reckon it’s about interaction. You’ve got to make the visitor interested. You’ve got to grab their attention. Many sites use plenty of bright and shiny gimmicks to attract you, but once you make it through to the content of the site it’s just not worthy. A good site uses easy navigation, relevant content, and interactive media like comments and message boards. If you’re fortunate, whoever builds your site may even have a few tricks up their sleeves to make it really fun with sound, video, and other interactive fun stuff.

Do you want people to come to your site and then tell their friend and family about it? Do you want to have huge amounts of visitors? Do you want to succeed in making your dreams come to fruition on the Web? Make your website exciting! It might be easier said than done, but there are people around whose job it is to construct and design sites for a living. If you can afford it, go for the best. How great is it when you come across a site that has some special feature that you’ve never seen elsewhere? Isn’t it great when you find a site that relates to one of your interests that is simple and easy to get to the information you want? If you want to have people to come back again and again, you’ve got to keep updating the content to keep it fresh and interesting. Have a way for people to communicate with yourself and others who are into the same things. E.G. Forums, message boards and comments. The aim is to catch the ‘viewer’s’ interest. A lot of sites just look like giant advertisements and you have to search for the needle in the haystack to find out what the actual site is for. I know advertising is a way of making money, but if you want your site to have an authentic, respectable atmosphere that exudes a feeling of integrity, you better be careful. People are becoming wary of this consumer driven, mindless attack at the average civilian’s wallet. Some people will automatically leave a site if a bunch of commercials pop-up on the screen. Pop-ups, don’t even make me go there? So, the aim of the game is to make a site that offers the public to be part of the action as well as being a source of knowledge or information that is in demand. A simple to navigate, good ‘feel’, and if possible-innovative site is the means to becoming the popular Internet magnate you’ve always dreamed of becoming. Another important fact is the idea of ‘you’. Your website is a chance to put your identity out there in the world. Be yourself. If you try to appeal to an audience in a way that doesn’t reflect your true self, you’re destined to fail. Be honest and speak from your real perspective on life. Give it to us from the heart.

Password Safety

If you’ve been on the internet for any length of time, you’ve collected about a zillion accounts and their associated passwords. Personally, I have over 500 different active accounts all over the web and probably a thousand more inactive or unused accounts.

Most people don’t have anywhere near that number, but I’ll bet you have at least a couple of dozen. Let’s see, you’ve probably got an account at your bank’s website, a few credit cards, egroups, perhaps a few webrings, your ISP, email, hotmail, perhaps AOL, and a few others that you don’t use as often.

If you are like most people, you cannot even come close to remembering it all. In fact, a lot of people simply create the same account name and password everywhere … and that’s extremely dangerous.

Let’s say a hacker figures out your AOL account and password. If every other account that you own has the same username and password … well, you get the idea. Now all he has to do is figure out where you have accounts … but he could just try it at a number of say, banking sites or credit card sites, and perhaps he will get lucky. You may make it even easier for him by mentioning your sites in your AOL emails or on your web site.

So how do you protect yourself? First, make sure your passwords are all different. Don’t use the same password on all of your accounts … and try and use a few different usernames if you can.

Next, be sure and choose some password that are not so easy to guess. Avoid names (husband, wife, kids, cats and so on), social security and phone numbers, addresses and anything else that someone could figure out if they knew anything about you.

Also avoid some common words. Did you know that the most common password is simply “password”. “God” is also common, especially amoung system managers. Avoid common words such as these.

All right! Now you’ve got all of your 30 or so accounts set up with different account names and different difficult-to-guess passwords. How are you going to remember them all?

Rule number one is be prepared for disaster. Write down all of your usernames and passwords in a notebook (yes, on paper). No, really. You need to do this because computers sometimes die, and when they do it’s at the worst possible time. You may not even have a backup, and if you loose all of your passwords you could lose a lot.

Keep this notebook safe, perhaps locked in a drawer. It’s probably a good idea to keep a copy in your safe deposit box – so someone can get to your accounts after you die, perhaps, or if you are in the hospital or something else happens.

Now keep a computer record also, which you will maintain more up-to-date. I like using a program called Password Tracker, although you could just as easily use Excel or even notepad. The idea is to record all of your account information as you create or change it. Password Tracker is great because it also gives you tools to enter the data for you.

Another good product is Gator (I use both Password Tracker and Gator) which can fill in forms and automatically log in accounts as you surf to them.

Be sure and keep backups of the Gator and Password Tracker databases … believe me, you don’t want to lose this information if you can avoid it.

By the way, I’ve learned to avoid the automatic account and password features of Internet Explorer. Why? Because there is no way to save, print out or get to the information. Thus, if the computer dies I lose my passwords with no way to recover. I don’t use Netscape much, but I would guess the same thing applies.

To conclude, use different account names and passwords for your various web sites. Record them on paper and store that somewhere safe. In addition, you can use programs link Excel, Gator and Password Tracker to save all of this information for you. Finally, and very importantly, be very prepared for disaster.

9 Tips for More Effective Facebook Marketing

By Brandon Cox
Facebook is NOT welcoming of the marketing efforts of its users; and often, family and friends on Facebook are ANNOYED by marketing efforts. Both of those statements are undeniable. So trying to “market on Facebook” requires good sense, strict moderation, and an understanding of how Facebook might work for marketing purposes.

Personally, I rarely post any marketing messages on Facebook. I post them on Twitter frequently, but I also try to make sure that 75 – 90% of what I post on Twitter is either personal interaction, plugging good free content, or plugging other people’s stuff. I do think, however, that monetizing my content on even free social media platforms is perfectly acceptable. Why? It’s simple. Even though the platforms are provided to me for free, I’m also providing the content that allows the network to exist. If nobódy posted on Twitter, they’d be broke.

So again, in moderation, with good sense, and with a priority on relationships over sales, marketing across these platforms should be an acceptable thing. Now about the good sense part.

Why is it That Social Platforms Are So Effective for Marketing?

People are social, by nature, so they love recommending stuff they like. Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms have a rapidly expanding user base. Authenticity is demanded as people will give honest and public feedback. The platforms are accessible and easy to use by design, even by people with few technical skills.

For the most part, marketing across social platforms is free, but doing it badly can cost dearly.

Why Is Facebook So Important to Messaging and Marketing?

With 500 million (and growing) unique users worldwide, Facebook is the number one social networking site in terms of activity and subscriptions. What started as a garage initiative by Mark Zuckerberg has now become the biggest phenomenon on the internet.

A user interface that allows for quick communication and the ability to create fan pages and groups at the clíck of a button are what make Facebook extremely popular. Another important reason for its immense popularity is the wide variety of social applications that have been developed and made available within the Facebook environment.

Facebook provides a wide variety of avenues to communicate with the audience, which opens up an entirely different world of possibilities to have a fruitful dialogue with customers. Some of these methods used popularly by marketers are:

Advertising: The first, which is the most obvious one, is advertising on Facebook. The difference, however, is the fact that you can create an advertisement in a matter of minutes and also specify the details of your target group in terms of demographics and types of discussions where you want your advertisement to appear.

Fan Pages: Facebook allows every brand, as well as individual users, to create fan pages for their favorite celebrities and their own businesses. Large brands have also created their official pages on Facebook that have a huge, immediate fan following world-wide. The fan page has immense utility to convey first hand information about the brand and also to collect immediate and frank feedback from your customers.

Branded Applications: One of the most effective ways to engage a user toward your brand is by creating an application; this could be a game or a contest, with your branding coming across subtly through it.

What makes Facebook even more exciting is the way it allows you to target your communication sharply just to the customer segment you want to attract. It also provides analytics and page insights that give good feedback and measurement on the activity done.

Facebook is envied by other platforms and internet companies because, at least for now, they own the social graph. If Google has mapped the Internet’s URLs, Facebook has mapped the Internet’s personal relationships and connections, and that’s extremely valuable. Why else would a company with virtually no physical assets to speak of (other than offices, servers, and datacenters) be worth billions of dollars?

9 Tips for Using Facebook to Market a Message

If you’re thinking about jumping into the idea of marketing (or messaging even without the goal of profit), here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Facebook, like any other online platform, has terms of use. Respect them or be prepared to be banned as well as criticized mercilessly.

2. Facebook is about relationships. You don’t have a “relationship” with a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman – so don’t be one on Facebook.

3. Being personal is everything. Successful Facebook marketing campaigns revolve around personality.

4. There isn’t a magic formula for making any message “go viral.” You can’t control a virus – that’s what makes them viral.

5. People like Facebook for entertaining stuff. In fact, entertainment is defined as “holding one’s attention.” Remember this.

6. Facebook ads are more personally targeted than ads anywhere else.

7. Being “liked” can work very, very well for your message. Being “unliked” (no, there’s not a button, but it can happen) can bury you.

8. Facebook is in control. Always remember this and don’t ever, ever assume its available tools won’t change. They have and they will.

9. Don’t build a business on Facebook marketing – or Twitter marketing – or newspaper ads, radio ads, TV ads, or leaflets dropped from hot air balloons. Build your business on a great product, a great message, and great relationships.

What did I miss?

About The Author
Brandon Cox is a Communications nut, a blogger, designer, web entrepreneur, and a Pastor at one of America’s largest churches, Saddleback Church. And he loves helping people blog for income.