5 Web Design Tips for Branding on a Budget

If you believe creating a professional online presence requires an Apple iMac, Adobe Creative Suite 6, and all the flashy interactive media and graphics they can produce, then you’ve clearly succumb to the hype created by multimillion dollar marketing campaigns.

If you’re a young professional working on a tight budget, but still looking to establish a professional online presence? Here are 5 tips and myths that may help you get your personal website out of the realm of want and into the realm of reality.

You Don’t Need a Flashy Design

We all enjoy interactive media, but you should consider these facts while designing your site: 10% of web users are amazed by the beauty of a website, but 76% of web users are attracted to websites that are easy to navigate.

Consider adopting a simple two-column layout that includes a header, footer, and sidebar. That will provide you with plenty of room for graphics and media shares, as well as consistent branding and a clearly visible navigation.

For PR graduates with no design experience, you may want to stick to simple website generators like WordPress or Wix.com since they will walk you through building a site that is visually pleasing, easy to customize, and easy to navigate.

Well, I Like THESE Colors…

You may have an affinity for Halloween orange and green, but you may want to tone down your color selection in consideration for your visitors. Take a moment to read up on Color Psychology and how it can “influence a persons mood, emotional state, and perception of your brand.”

To address this, Precision Intermedia encourages clients and professionals to, “Employ the latest color psychology in all facets of marketing and particularly in logo design, web site design, the cover of a book, or the package of a product” and Nowsourcing.com released the following infographic on The Psychology of Color to show how major brands are successfully using it in their marketing.

For those of you who lack an artistic background, there is hope! I suggest browsing the various free color palettes found on ColourLovers.com.

Do You Need a Custom Domain Name?

The popular opinion is: Purchasing your domain is evidence that you are taking your work seriously and believe that your services have enough monetary value for you to spend some money on a custom domain.

While discussing domain and web hosting, a friend of mine put the issue into perspective when he said, “You easily spend $10 at Wendy’s or on Chinese food. If you can’t invest $10 to buy a custom domain for a year – I’m not going to take you seriously.”

Hosting prices can vary by package and provider, but I’ve had a good experience with NameCheap.com and always hear good things about GoDaddy.com or Yahoo! Small Business for domain and web hosting services.

You Need Adobe Dreamweaver to Code HTML

Can’t afford Adobe’s Web and Design Premium package? To be honest, unless you’re serious about graphic and web design, then you probably shouldn’t be spending $200-500 on a design package you won’t use daily.

On a positive note, webpages, which are .html files, can easily be created by using a plain text editor like UltraEdit or Windows Notepad (if you’re experiencing issues with Mac TextEdit, I’ve read that it’s default isn’t plain text, but rich text).

Warning: This route is pretty HTML/XHTML and CSS extensive. If you’re new to coding, I would suggest investing in a Web development resource like this book by Terry Felke-Morris.

Simply input all your HTML/XHTML and CSS coding into your plain text editor, building your site from the base up. When you go to save your document be sure to change the save as type from a .TXT file to an .HTML file type. When you try to preview your new file, it will open in your default web browser. You can edit your tag and content in Notepad, save, and refresh your browser to preview your changes just as easily and accurately as you would in Adobe Dreamweaver.

Adobe Photoshop or BUST

Trying to save a few dollars by purchasing Adobe Photoshop Lightroom instead of the more expensive Adobe Photoshop? Don’t do it! You get what you pay for.  You may save a rough $150 or more, but there is a reason for the price gap.

Numerous professionals who thought they could “get Photoshop” while saving a few dollars by purchasing Lightroom have ended up complaining that it doesn’t have the capabilities or flexibility of Adobe Photoshop and wish they had simply bought the full version.

If you’re considering pursuing photography or offering photo manipulation services, you’ll get the full worth of your investment soon enough with the full version. Also, if you’re a college student, you can get Adobe products at a discounted rate by visiting the Student & Teachers page.

I hope these tips will benefit you during your professional development stages. All the best!

Yasheaka Oakley Owens

Yasheaka Oakley Owens is the owner of YOakleyPR, a woman-owned small business that provides public relations, social media, and online marketing support services to small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware.

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