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  • Writer's pictureDionne White

What do websites and high end department stores have in common?

Recently I have had several compliments on how beautiful my website is. That it is inviting, pretty, and friendly as well as informative. 

I’m always updating my website to keep it fresh and contemporary. 

I was recently asked by another fellow artist, how did I do that? 

Did I design my site myself? 

Did I have help designing it?

My answer was yes and no. 

The area I have received help for was mainly on the technical side of things. When it came to the design and layout I have pretty much done that all myself. I have been working on and tweaking my art site since September of 2017 and before that I had a ministry and inspirational site. So I have been working on it for some time. 

Back in the day (can I get a shout out for the 90's...woot woot!) I took a few design courses at Elgin Community College in Illinois. 

I learned some different ways to lay out advertisement, create story boards, create our fictional products to market and sell, create design labels and packaging for the product. It's all about connecting through visual appeal and telling a story with your product, ad or site then converting that to sales or service. I’m working on this. 🙂

One thing I have learned is that for me I desire to buy and design beautiful things. So when it came to designing my website I not only wanted it to be functional, but also beautiful, giving you an experience when you visit. 

I've heard that your website should be like your living room, homey and inviting. If you saw my living room sometimes (since we only have one living space) you'd understand why I desire to create something even greater and more beautiful with my website. LOL.

There are two things that bug me and send me packing when I go to a website. 

1. Too Techy!  

If your website is too wordy or you use geek squad lingo you can believe I won't be there long. I do want a website to be informative but I prefer it to be beautiful as well.

I want to want to go back to it. 

2. Too Tiny! 

If I enter your site and all I see is your name, address and one picture with an optional “about” page, I'm most likely not going to explore it further. 

To me a website should be a place where you can get to know the person or company on a personal and professional level. Clearly understand the services they offer. Clearly be able to navigate the site. 

Clearly see beautiful pictures of the person, company, staff, or products. If these things are lacking then I will probably leave your site as well.

First Impressions are a real thing!

How many of you know that first impressions usually happen within three to five seconds upon engagement or sight. 

I know you are not supposed to 'judge' a book by its cover but in the case of website design, I think it is ok to do. LOL...

I don't have formal website design training but I do believe I have an eye for style, design and beautiful things. So I am going to tell you how I created my website.

The Beautiful Website Design Experience 

I want you to visualize your website and everything within it to be like a high end department store. Think Macys, Dillards, Saks 5th Avenue or something like that.  Now think of your current website...does it say high end department store or does it say Walmart or Dollar General?

Walmart and Dollar General are functional for practical and survival purposes but I don't want my website looking like them.

Crammed with stuff(from China), scarce help and long lines.

Who is with me?

Now let me take you on a trip to the beautiful, high end department store called your website. Ready? 

Let’s Go! 

1. Approach

It has to be cleary labeled upon entering - Classy and Clean. This would be your name or business name upon approach. This in itself should draw your client in.

2. Entry


There is usually a focal point upon entering on the doors or windows of the store. For us artists this would be a clear and beautiful picture of you or a piece of art or product! It has to be inviting and beautiful!

3. The Main Aisle

Ok, so here I want you to envision the main aisle of the store as you enter. It's the Hub so to speak. 

Think about it. What do they usually put on the main aisle?

Companies will market the most current product, most expensive-high end product and the most beautiful products.

The main aisle is the bulk content of your home page leading to the sweet stuff, in the middle of the store, perfume :) 

Here, on the main aisle, you will write a third person press release type column. Telling them the WHO, WHAT AND WHY of you and your site. 

You can include personal quotes or favorite quotes from others and highlight those. 

You can scatter pictures of your work or post quality close up detail shots throughout your home page or even put a short video as well. Keep it short. 

Making sure to showcase once again your most current and beautiful work. You don't want outdated information or work on your home page.

Highlight your specialty, skill, or service and GIVE DIRECTION for the client to contact you or how to take certain actions to other links. 

On my homepage I start with my name and picture and I end with my picture and a personal quote with brand colors. I'm reinforcing me to them. 

Be Cohesive!

The other thing about the Main Aisle and how it links to the rest of your site is cohesion. Begin thinking "how can I brand my site to look like me or my work?" Remember you are building a “name” for yourself. 

This is classic retail marketing. 

I used to work for GAP (back in the day- 90’s again) and one of my jobs was to dress the windows. 

This included dressing the mannequins, putting in props, window decor and hanging signage. I absolutely loved this part of my job. Creative, right! 

What made the windows beautiful was the cohesion!  The colors, props, signs, and outfits all matched or coordinated, no matter if it was male, female or child attire. 

The props set the atmosphere and gave you the “feel” of the theme. It was dressed well and beautiful to look at. It was inviting. 

They looked like they had it all together too. 

I know I like to shop in places that look like that. 

How does this pertain to your site? 

Think of the atmosphere you are setting when designing your site. It truly needs to be more than functional. Your images, your font, the flow, everything should begin to go together and set an atmosphere. 

This is a marketing and design strategy for retail sales. 

For every season and every holiday stores showcase and coordinate the brands and products. This may be by icons, props or colors. 

For me, I use the same colors and fonts over and over again, keeping a consistency throughout my site. The color gold is all throughout as well are different shades of teals. I recently have added red to my brand identity along with gold key icons and a hummingbird is coming ✨.

I highly suggest you do this for long term brand identity. People can then identify you not only by your name or work, but design of social sites! Brand by using color and style to identify your name! It doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to be you. 

4. Side Aisles 

Side aisles are your other pages or links on your site. They come off of your main aisle (home page) and lead to another department so to speak. These side aisles  may be a more thorough “about” page, an inspiration page, a gallery page, a blog page or even a store or resource page. 

Then ultimately if these stores are in a mall then they will lead you to other stores. This is where this area comes into play. You may  link site visitors to another resource to purchase a book or you may give a shout out to your SEO web guy and put his link on here as well. 

So are you seeing the visual and function of the site here? 

I want this to help you have a visual to see how a website could be set up and understand how they function. 

Can you see it? 

Do you see the strategy? 

Can you feel the atmosphere? 

I hope your answer to these questions is “yes”! 

I hope it has given you some ideas of how you can make your site look and feel top of the line and inviting. 

It’s crazy that I’ve never had website design training but I love fashion and home decor design so this was how I was able to envision and execute my site. I know I still have much to learn. 

Envisioning it as a high end department store has helped me so much. 

Have I helped eliminate the intimidation factor of building a site? 

If I have let me know your thoughts! 

I’m going to include my branding inspiration sheet below that I made on Canva for you to see how I am building my brand. 

I hope you get some good take aways here! 

Good luck and Have fun with it!  

If you absolutely need help contact me via email. for more resources. 

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