How many times have you visited a ‘professional website’ that is bland and boring? Almost enough to send you to sleep! GOOD NEWS! You don’t have to create a boring website to look professional.
Injecting fun and personality into your website won’t make you look like you don’t know what you are doing. In fact, having a site with bland office businessy images will harm your brand and stop you from forming those all-important connections with your audience.
10 things you need to make your website look professional
So how can I make my website look more professional?
Ah, my friends, there are some surprisingly simple things you can do to professional up your website, give yourself more authority online without boring your customers to tears.
#1 Get a custom domain name
When you first start out it can be tempting to go with the free website name that you get with WordPress.com, Wix or Squarespace. But free is good, right? Well, no, because if it is obviously a free domain name your business will look cheap and inexperienced. And it will harm your rankings in the search engines and stop people from finding you. You want all that hard work you are putting into creating a great online experience for your customers to count, from day one.
Choose a domain name that is memorable and relevant to your business without being a chain of search terms. ‘Leedsdentist.com’ is not going to get you ranked higher for dentists in Leeds and will stop your loyal customers from searching for your business direct.
#2 Add a favicon
Ah, sometimes it’s the little details that count. A favicon is that little icon on your browser tab that indicates what website is open.
A pro website will change that icon to reflect their brand. Having the standard WordPress, Wix or Squarespace favicon can make your website look cheap and unfinished. So get that sorted!
#3 Get SSL
Ever been shown the warning insecure site notice when visiting a site?
A little bit off-putting! SSL is an easy way to offer security to your website visitors and give them peace of mind when visiting your site, especially when buying online. It stops the nasty warning screens and gets you that little safe site padlock at the top of the browser. Visitors look for it now! Google looks for it now! So, make sure you get SSL on your website and that means it’s secure. Don’t be penalised for not having it on your site.
#4 Keep it simple
The temptation is to squeeze everything onto the home page in the hope that something tempts visitors to click through. But when it comes to websites, we have the attention span of a SQUIRREL! We pick out headlines, scan blocks of text for keywords and then press the big button at the bottom. Clutter up the page with new things, look at this blog then we won’t be able to pick out the most important message and are likely to just wander off.
The big pro websites cut their home page info to a few big words and short paragraphs of text to guide us through to take an action. Be ruthless with the amount of text on each page to make it super clear what action your visitors need to take. Just don’t confuse people by trying to pack too much in, particularly on the front page and the header.
#5 Use white space
This leads me on nicely to the use of white space. Give your text room to breathe. Nobody wants to feel like they are reading an essay so chop it up into little bitesize chunks with lots of space between them.
Then add more padding around your sections of text. So much easier to scan and a great way to make your website look professional. It will capture the interest of visitors to that page rather than making them think “ugh I have to read reams of text”.
#6 Only use TWO fonts (and make them really good ones!)
I suggest a characterful title font that reflects your brand and an easy to read body copy font. And then stick to them! No adding that gorgeous swirly font you found because you fell in love with it or choosing a random title font to make your text stand out! It just ends up looking tacky and unprofessional. Stick to your branding font on and off your website and people will bond with your brand and you make your website look ten billion times more professional.
Speaking of professional…
#7 Choose your colours wisely
You don’t want to look like a closing down sale. Choose your colour palette and stick to it. The temptation to add a new bright neon pink to highlight that new product may be pretty strong, but it will make your offer look bargain basement and less professional.
Pick one of your colours to act as your ACTION colour throughout your website and that will guide people to take the actions you want them to take. It will cut down the confusion and really build your brand. So, choose your colour palette and stick to it!
#8 Upgrade your images
Images can make or break a website Blurry, badly cut and pixelated images can really bring down the quality of your website. Getting the right, high-quality images on your site is such a powerful way of creating connection and communicating your message that you don’t want them to be saying, cheap, old fashioned, not genuine and unprofessional.
But you don’t have to rush out to get a professional photo shoot right away. There are loads of free and cheap photo sites out there where you can find professionally shot images. The trick is knowing what to look for so you can avoid the cheesy stock photo. If you need help with this, check out this blog post where I show you how to find great images.
#9 It needs to look good on mobile too
Most website builders are responsive, which means that the text and images rejig themselves depending on the size and format of the screen. BUT that doesn’t necessarily mean that your website will be a good experience for visitors on a mobile device. Text can be too large and split between lines, or too small to read. Images can make NO sense, buttons can be too fiddly to press and menus may do odd things in mobile view.
Mobile is more and more important these days as over half of web traffic is now from a mobile device. That’s a lot of people! You need to make sure that your website looks good and gives your visitors that professional website experience, no matter how they are viewing it. Grab your mobile phone and check it out. Navigate through your site and make sure you check all the links, menus and buttons. Be truthful with yourself: Is it looking good? Are they getting the same experience no matter the screen size?
#10 Be yourself
I know, this may be squeaky bum time. Especially if you don’t like having your face against your brand. But it’s time to show off exactly why you and your business shine. What makes you different, what makes you stand out in a crowd of other similar businesses? Why should anybody choose your brand over another?
Not all medical sites have to be green
Not all accountants have to be blue
Not all consultants need to show that handshaking shot or a photo of a random city.
A professional website is a site that connects with your audience. And the best way to do that is to be yourself. Consumers look for that personal experience and connection with a brand that simply isn’t possible if you are trying to look like everybody else in the market. There is a reason that the about page is the most viewed page on any website.
Don’t be scared to brand your business to reflect your values and passion for what you do. Love purple? Go for it! Want to create a business that feels warm and welcoming? Then use those soft colours and handwritten fonts. And if you are building a personal brand then people need to see you. Invest in some professional pictures that show you off as being you, doing what you do. No staid business headshots are welcome here. Your website will stand out, make a more impactful impression on your visitors and help you build a more cohesive and professional brand. Having your branding nailed will make your marketing so much more professional both on and off-site.
It’s not rocket science…
A few little tweaks and some solid branding choices can really make the difference between an obviously DIY-ed and a professional website. Please don’t bore your website visitors to tears or give them a strobe headache just looking at your site. If you feel your website is unprofessional then it probably is and it is time to do something about it.
Let me know in the comments what your biggest professional website struggles are! Like, follow and remember that building a professional website is as much of a journey as building your business.