Author Avatar Online Identity – Branding

by Webnme on Sep 4th 2011

Web Site Planning Tips - Online Identity - Branding

Branding

Branding of a web site is absolutely critical.  Generally the elements of a brand are site colors, logo, logo placement, slogan or catch-phrase and key navigation.  As long as these are common across all areas of the site, a visitor will easily understand that they are on the same site and more likely will visit more pages and return more often.

Domain Names

Domain names that are easy to remember and short are best.  They can be hard to find, but once you have one that you like it is worth the investment to purchase it right away from a reputable domain registrar that will allow you to point the DNS for the domain name to whatever location suits you.  You want to avoid registrars that try hard to force you to be hosted on their servers or who make it difficult to go elsewhere.

I generally purchase domain names via Network Solutions because I know I can manage the domain name easily and move it to any location that I choose.  In some cases I will purchase a domain name via the company that hosts a site.   You can purchase a domain name from a less expensive registrar, but may have trouble moving it to where you want when you want.

When buying a domain name the cost is usually less if the period of time you buy is longer.  For example, it costs $35/domain name/year at Network Solutions for one year of registration.  If you buy a longer period the cost is $14/domain name/year.  Generally Google and other search sites view the length of registration as indicator of the value of the site.  Those sites with longer registration periods rank slightly higher in search results because there is an assumption that there will be a reliable stream of new content that will be of interest to visitors.  I generally recommend a ten year investment.

Note:  Domain names are like rental properties.  You buy the use of the domain name for a set period of time.  If it expires and you have not renewed the registration, you lose the domain.  So it becomes critical to calendar any renewal dates for your sites.

Logo

The logo should be clean and simple for a commercial site.  Hobby and personal sites can have a complex logo that is more artistic, larger and more colorful.  The idea with a logo is for it to be easy for the mind to recall.  Simple shapes and words are best when possible.

If the site contemplates advertising across the top, the logo should be small and to the left or in some rare cases to the right.  This allows the most valuable top real estate on the page to be used for income generation.  Most commercial sites tend toward logos that are in the 100×100 pixel range up to 200×200 pixels.  This allows room for a standard large landscape ad to be placed at the top and still be viewable on the low end of monitor resolutions.

Logos can be placed above a background that fits the theme of the site and which does not contrast with any ads placed in the same area.  Likewise any background should work whether the site is viewed at low or very high resolution on a monitor; e.g. they have to be able to dynamically adapt to the viewer.  This usually argues for a plain or muted background that either fades out or repeats nicely when on a larger monitor.

Themes – WordPress

WordPress makes the use of branding and logos very easy with design themes.  These are canned packages that you can use that allow you to have a specific look and feel to your site without paying for a developer to build an expensive design for you.  A theme will generally provide you with a basic design, colors, layout, widgets for things like Twitter, a navigation scheme, integrated comment capability, a blog, tags, categories, search, and more.  There are thousands of free themes available.  And there are even better themes available for a small fee. To get an idea of the variety of themes available you for a fee, you can take a look at WooThemes’ collection of WordPress themes.

About Webnme

The developer's first experience with computers was with Fortran IV. Wow that's ancient. After graduate school, he taught history for a number of years at a community college before attending law school and becoming an attorney. In 1997 he changed careers to become a web developer/designer with an interest in all things web related. He currently maintains several dozen websites including a family of websites for a non-profit corporation that gets over five million page views monthly. This is his developer website. The opinions expressed are his own.

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