There’s no way around it: if you want to succeed in business, you’re going to need a website, and that website has to make a good impression. Nothing turns off customers, buyers, and other valuable potential contacts like a disorganized, difficult to navigate website written in comic sans. When someone is deciding whether or not to do business with you, your website is like a canary in the mine. It shows people whether or not you’re able to create a professional image, and they’ll use their instincts from this impression to decide if they should spend time and money on you.
Although there are many specific techniques this article will address, the most useful thing you can do is to look at your website and answer this question:
Does this website look professional?
Use your gut instincts, and be honest with yourself. Nothing can be a substitute for your own critical eye. Go to websites of businesses you trust. Go to websites of popular competitors and see what they’re doing. Along the way, ask friends and family, or best of all a sales rep for direct, honest opinions about how your website could be better. And throughout your entire website creation and editing process, keep asking yourself:
Does this website look professional?
So without further ado, let’s get into all the ways you can make sure your website looks professional.
1) Have Hosting And Domain Legitimacy
Buy A Relevant .com Domain
With very few exceptions, .com is still the internet’s standard for professionalism. This means you shouldn’t have .blog.hubspot or any other hosting sites that insert their name into your domain. If you buy a .biz or .net or any other top-level domain, make sure you also purchase a .com and have the others redirect to it. You don’t want to hurt your brand and credibility on step one.
Pay For Quality Hosting
Yes, there’s free hosting out there, but it’s a bad idea to use any of these options for your business website. Why? Because free hosting sites keep in business by adding ads and promotions to themselves on free sites. It immediately ruins your reputation if people see graphics like ‘this site made possible by example.com.’ You don’t want to give the impression that you can’t afford twelve dollars a month on your website. Speaking of twelve dollars a month, the easiest single thing to do is to buy a Squarespace hosting plan. Their templates are easy to edit, and all look professional.
2) Make Your Website Simple And Clear
Most users visiting your website will stay for less than 15 seconds. In that short time, visitors will subconsciously ask the following questions to themselves, and your website has to provide them with clear answers.
What does this product do?
How can I get it?
Do I want it?
Answers to these three questions must be on your front page and easily accessible through images, video, and a small amount of text. If it requires extensive reading, navigating through multiple pages, or even scrolling to get these answers, you’re going to lose potential customers.
3) Follow Good Design Standards
Have Professional Looking Photos
Photos need to be in focus, have a clean background, and be large. Either have a professional take them, or learn how to do it on your own. Make sure they feature your product, its packaging, and any action shots if your product has to be demonstrated.
Don’t Have Music Or Sound Effects
Stick To A Color Scheme
Text should be black on a white background. Don’t worry about your page being unique, people want to be able to read easily, and this is the color scheme that allows that to happen. The rest of your website should have a color palette that gives potential customers the right vibe of your business. Picking one or two accent colors and sticking with them throughout your design is usually a good way to go.
Use Appropriate Fonts
For text, this means all the old regulars, things like arial, futura, etc. Anything that’s easy to read. For logos and graphics, feel free to have more fun, but remember that these fonts are a garnish, not the main course.
Copy Edit Everything
This is just simple professionalism. Run everything through a spell checker, and for any text more than a couple of words long, have it copy edited by someone, or use a service like Grammarly. Customers want to know you have attention to detail, and typos show you couldn’t be bothered to double check.
Keep The Text To A Minimum
The front page shouldn’t have blocks of text, let the photos do the talking. If you want to get longer, do it with your ‘About Us’ or ‘Our Story’ section.
4) Maximize Your Website’s Engagement
Always Have A Call To Action
What’s the next step for a potential customer visiting your website? Think beyond wanting them to make a purchase. Think of ways to capture their email addresses, or even just for them to spend more time on the site.
You might as well incorporate common search terms customers use while trying to find your products in your website. Doing this increases the chance of being found organically through search and social media. You don’t have to guess what to do, either research how to do SEO or use a website building program that already has plugins that do this.
Be Mobile Ready
Mobile accounts for over half of all web traffic. As you’re designing your website, make sure to check if it looks good on smartphones and tablets, as well as computers.
Check Your Load Times
Make sure your website loads quickly. People will click away if they’re waiting more than 1–2 seconds.
Video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80%. Having a video on your front page makes your site seem modern, and people can quickly learn about your story and product by pressing play.
Although this list may seem long, it’s truly worth taking the time to make sure your company’s website is professional. Your website is like your company’s outfit, you wouldn’t want to show up to an important meeting in pajamas, and you don’t want to make a poor impression by having a low-quality website. The nice part is, once you do the initial work of setting it up, websites only require occasional maintenance. Once you do your hard work, you’ll have a great looking website for months and years to come.