Some time ago, someone wrote to me asking me to write an article about designing a website for ones kennel. I am not an expert in designing websites. I along with most people go to someone who is familiar or has the expertise in designing a website. This person that wrote to me was critical of some of the websites that she had seen and said that some of the time she won’t even look at the rest of the website if the first page doesn’t appeal to her.
So what makes an appealing website? In my opinion, it is like a writer or an artist. You want to draw your audience in on that first page to make them want to look at the rest of it. I think that a website should be eye catching but not ostentatious. Obviously most people design something that says something about that person’s personality. It’s important to remember that your website is about your dogs. I don’t feel that a website that has flashing lights and distracting music brings attention to the dogs that one is advertising. You want the dogs to stand out, not the flashing lights. I personally find this type of website distracting, but I’m sure there are those people who like this. It’s all a matter of preference and what it is you are trying to convey.
There are some programs that you can download to help you design your own website. Some are more user friendly than others. You can choose from many different templates, share your photos and even your videos. I personally have never tried this way of making a website, but it is definitely something you might consider. Just go on Google and do your research. There is plenty of information about this on the web.
If you decide to use a professional website designer, there are many people that you can hire. The best way to find and choose one is to look at a portfolio of their work. Find someone that does the type of website designs that are appealing to you. Then check around for the best rates for the quality of work that you are looking for. Your website designer will also keep your website up to date and fresh looking. If you need to add something or have something removed, this is the person who can do this for you.
No matter if you decide to build your own website or have someone do it for you, you will also need a company to host your website. This is how you get your website on the internet so other people can find you. Once again, there are different hosting companies that you can use. One of them that I use is called, “Go Daddy.” Hosting is probably the least expensive part of your website design.
Now how about the layout of your website? What should it include? What is it that you want your website to say? Once again, check other people’s websites to give you an idea of what is important to include on your website. As I said before, your first page (the one that people will see right away) should be the page that attracts peoples attention to want to read more about your kennel. Many times this is where you will see a head shot of a dog or a show win picture with the kennel name on top of the page. You might see the gates of a person’s driveway that leads to their kennels. This is your most important page and it should be the most attractive one as well so use your imagination.
What should you include on your website? Naturally you should have links to the different dogs and services your kennel may provide. Normally you will see links dividing the males (studs), bitches, puppies, boarding, training, handling, etc……whatever it is that you want people to look at. Also this is where you might see links of this kennels dogs of the past and a link about this kennels history. You might see links advertising things these people sell……grooming supplies, supplements, dog food, etc.
The colors that you choose should also be attractive and complimentary to the dogs so they stand out in their pictures. Using loud, bold colors in my opinion is again very distracting.
Use pictures that are clear and that will reproduce well on your website. If you use a professional, perhaps they can put a video presentation of your dogs on your website. I’ve see this done on a breeders website and it is beautiful. It goes from one picture of a dog to another. You may also want a moving video of some of your dogs. If you have a dog that is an excellent mover, this might be a good way to advertise that fact. Some people have videos of the puppies that they are looking to sell.
Besides the name of your kennel, you should include information about how someone can reach you. This might include your e-mail, telephone number and address. Some people chose to use just the city and state of their address.
So when designing your website, make it attractive and not too busy looking. Make your dogs stand out…..not the other distractions. Keep it up to date. I have a very well known breeder on my list that when she advertises her puppies, she’ll say what she has available. She makes me laugh. She always mentions that she needs to get her website updated………she’s been saying this for the last few years now!!! I would love to see some of her top winning dogs all in one place. So if she is reading this now…….HINT, HINT, HINT!!!
Having a website is another form of advertising. How you design it, and what and how you say it, will help determine if people who read it will want to continue reading it and if they will want to contact you. This is your “calling card”……your “business card” on the web.
My rating: having a website designed by a professional: (4), doing it yourself if you can: (4)