Just by looking at a website’s home page you can tell if it was designed by an amateur or a professional. If you’re one of those that have a very amateur-looking website it’s hard to know where to start improving your design. You want a website that is clean, organized, optimized, and represents your brand.
While everyone has a different design process, here are some tips to help you get started in the right direction:
- Create Branding: Professional does not mean generic; while it’s true that some amateurish websites may have a bit too much personality, you certainly don’t want to lose your company’s identity. Create a sense of branding by having a unifying color scheme consistent throughout your website, complemented by a professional logo that represents your business visible on each page. You should also have this logo link back to your home page; not only is this expected by users, but it forces users to pay attention to your logo, helping to increase memorability.
- Invest in Professional Photos: Low-quality photographs can make your website look amateurish, so it’s best to try to find a professional photos for your website. While you may be tempted to take photos yourself in order to be cost-efficient, if you’re not a professional photography then it’s almost worse than having no photos at all. Either hire a professional photographer to take photos for you or try purchasing some stock photos from one of the many stock photography websites out there. If you invest in your website that investment will shine through, and visitors will read that as you caring about you business and product or service.
- Organize Your Navigation: There is nothing more frustrating for a user than not being able to find the information they’re searching for. When a website has confusing, unorganized, or hard-to-find navigation a visitor is almost guaranteed to hit the back button rather than waste anymore of their valuable time trying to figure out your problem. It’s best to provide clear navigation at the top of your page (this is where most users expect to find the navigation, so I don’t recommend straying from this pattern) that has no more than 7 or so main category links. If you have more sections than that, it’s best to have these as a secondary navigation lower down on the page or nested within a drop-down menu in the main navigation.
- Optimize Your Content: Another sign of a low-quality website is one where the information is cluttered, illegible, and out-of-date. Keep your content fresh by updating it at least once a week (once a month at the absolute minimum); not only does this encourage users to keep visiting your website for new information, but it also helps your website in search engine rankings. Be sure to use an adequate amount of whitespace and keep content concise and full of relevant information and keywords so that it’s easier for users to scan for the information they want.
- Think About Responsive Design: Websites are not limited to your desktop computer anymore. So many users now own smartphones and almost all of these devices are used to look up quick information on the web. You’re possibly missing out on a large segment of your potential market if you don’t create a mobile-friendly version of your website. While mobile-friendly versions are not necessary for EVERY business, it’s worth looking into to see if it’s right for your company.