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Website Design: 3 Big Mistakes
We Make When Creating A Site
 
By Steven Lowell
Community Manager, Voice123
 
An important part of being a successful voice over talent is advertising. And a big part of that is having an effective personal website.
 
Here are what I believe are three big mistakes - what to avoid - when creating your own personal voice over website.
 
Mistake #1
Overly Creative & Innovative Design
 
For the most part, website design should follow convention.
 
For users to be able to navigate the website, it is useful to have familiar things in familiar places. Magazine and books publishers understand this about print, but the understanding seems to get lost on the web.
 
A related problem is the attempt to create your own original brand for navigation. Using "original" names for navigation just makes it harder for your audience to enjoy your site.
 
Navigation links are like road signs - they need to be descriptive, and make sense to everyone.
 
Unconventional design and navigation will most likely result in confusing your audience.
 
Mistake # 2
Too Much Focus on a 'Flash and Dash' Homepage
 
I know it is fun for a creative person to make his/her voice over homepage look like Times Square on New Years Eve, but this is a common mistake.
 
If you want your site to work for you, you need to think about how people will use your website, not how I want them to use it.
 
There are many ways for people to land on your site, such as via search engines and external links. So it is important to understand how each page created serves the person viewing it.
 
This is easy to research using conventional testing.
 
For instance, if you were going to find your own page as a potential client, would that page make you reach out to you for work, or just confuse you?
 
One effective strategy is to have parallel, consistent links in articles, so that users always know where they can go to find the next bit of your information (without overdoing it, as I explain below).
 
Related stories about you and recent testimonials on your voice over work all work well.
 
Mistake #3
Being a 'Link-Aholic'
 
Offering links for users to find more content is great, and essential to usability. However, it is often overdone.
 
Links should be treated as if they were advertisements. Commercials are good in moderation, but disastrous in excess.
 
Why? Links are work! They require the user to make a choice.
 
Finding great content is a reward for the effort to get to your page, so there is no value in spoiling the experience for them.
 
The point of creating great content for your audience is so that they can enjoy it. Loading the page up with columns full of links inevitably reduces the space for reading and makes text harder to read.
 
It also sends the wrong message:
"Thanks for coming, now go somewhere else."
IT'S ABOUT YOU ...
 
Most Important: Remember that your website is ABOUT YOU.
 
Perhaps the biggest mistake is to create "the digital community of you" through your own personal website. It usually starts innocently enough, having you and your many friends discussing things back and forth on your website.
 
But inevitably this will lead to your web page becoming an effort to discover its original purpose - to sell YOU.
 
The general message of your website should be about selling you.
 
KEEP IT SIMPLE
 
A website with any other information not related to you becomes irrelevant, and it is unlikely to have much meaning for anybody else.
 
Remember this quote: "The shortest distance between two points is simplicity."
 
Stay creative and original, but never forget what the customer who wants to hire you is thinking! 
 
ABOUT STEVEN ...
 
Steven Lowell is a voice actor based in New York City, and Community Manager for Voice123, the online voice over marketplace that provides online auditions and work for its members.
 
 
 
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Comments (9)
Marilyn
3/18/2016 at 4:40 PM
Thank you for the invaluable advise. I'm in the process of developing my web-site. I have no experience...YET, so I was told to describe my personality and I was going to add my work experience in areas that would make me a desirable voice-over talent. Also for the last 6 yrs. I have been in 2 yearly production where besides singing and acting roles, I have been a narrator or storyteller. I thought it would be a good idea to have the director add his comments as to how I take direction well, easy to work with, always on time, etc. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Clay
8/17/2010 at 1:46 PM
Overly Creative & Innovative Design is an oxymoron!
Marcus Weems
8/14/2010 at 12:18 PM
Good job as always, Steven. I didn't get my site up until I took Dan O'Day's website design webinar on Website Design For Dummies. (That wasn't the name, but it was easy to follow.) It inspired me to FINALLY get my site up and running with a little direction and very little muss and fuss. MarcusWeemsVoiceOvers.com.
MARCUS WEEMS
BP Smyth, Narrator
8/14/2010 at 9:53 AM
Excellent advice, Steven. I would like to recommend "ArtistUpgrade" to help anyone design their website. Mick Lauer does a fantastic job designing a one page website, and is able to capture the voice talent's branding. He designed mine, and I am most pleased. Go to the website of ArtistUpgrade.com and view his work. I believe you will be favorably impressed.
Alan Sklar
8/14/2010 at 9:03 AM
The American Management Assn teaches; The KISS Principle..."Keep It Simple, Stupid"

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"...Leonardo DaVinci
Steven
8/14/2010 at 1:40 AM
Greetings everyone and thanks for the comments!

Dave, to address what you have said, you may have noticed on Voice123 that the links you describe are barely visible. The purpose for this is because we are building exposure for you, and yes, us included.

When you see banners on other pages to our site, there is usually a business agreement in place related for certain reasons. Go to our site and look up the affiliate program for more info.

Either way, no banner should distract from the purpose of the page itself, and everything you see has to have a planned purpose in mind; not just hapless promoting.
Dave Menashe
8/13/2010 at 1:55 PM
Great advice.

I'd add that it's a huge mistake to link your personal website to your profiles on pay-2-play websites. Why would you want to send your prospective clients to a site where you have competition?

Sounds quite obvious but I've seen it a number of times.
J. Christopher Dunn
8/13/2010 at 1:50 PM
Steven - KISS came to mind when I created my page. My goal was one page with the specifics necessary for prospective clients to learn about me and my services. Thanks for the confirmation! -JCD
Pablo Hernandez
8/13/2010 at 12:29 PM
Great article, Steven! I really enjoyed it! Greetings from Puerto Rico!
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