Your website can be a robust platform for getting your voice heard or your website can be a digital brochure, but regardless, your website is how you tell your audience who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. So many people won't take you seriously in business if you don't have a website.
But it's not enough to simply have a website; your website needs to make a good first impression. You only have a few seconds to make a good impression. If your website doesn't make a good impression, they may not come back.
According to a study conducted by Adobe, 38% of website visitors will just leave if the site is badly designed. A poorly designed website could be actively turning away people who might otherwise want to hire you.
You may be thinking, "Ok, big deal? So what?" Let me put this another way so it really hits home.
If your flagship offer is $997, and your website turns away just one targeted lead every month who would otherwise work with you, you’re losing $12,000 a year. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be leaving $12,000 on the table every year over a problem that’s totally fixable.
Those first few seconds are paramount, and it's important you make them count.
Here are 10 things you can do to make your website feel more professional right off the bat
1. Customise your WordPress theme for your business.
By leaving the default elements in your theme, you look like an amateur who doesn't invest in their business. Things to remove include any dummy text, the default logo, and the footer element that says, "theme by..." A little time spent customising your theme to suit your business can go a long way in making your website look more unique and more professional.
2. Pick your fonts wisely.
Fonts tell a story. Fonts brand you. Fonts tell people how you want to be perceived. Fonts can make your site look modern, classy, dated, or playful. Serif fonts tend to be seen as more classy, but some Serif fonts are so pedestrian they actually just make you look dated. Sans Serif fonts are perceived as modern, but there are some that also make you look dated. If you're not sure where to get started, spend some time going through Google Fonts. There are plugins for WordPress that pull Google Fonts that you can use on your website.
3. Use colours that go together and don't look muddy.
Colours that don't go because they're too close (or too far apart) on the spectrum aren't doing you any favours. You may have picked two colours you really like, say... cherry red and mint green...but those don't look great next to each other, and can make your site look muddy.
Also avoid using colours that don't have enough contrast. Don't use a very light colour for your background and a slightly darker -- but still light -- grey for your font. It will be hard to read.
Colour theory sounds daunting, but it doesn't have to be. You can use a tool like Color by Adobe to pick a colour scheme based on one of the photos you'll be using for your website.
4. Make use of white space.
Resist the urge to throw all the things in your sidebar. Conversely, don't have so much white space it's hard to tell what elements go together. If you have a subtitle under your headline, make sure it's not so far down the page it doesn't look like it goes together.
5. Get some better photos.
Professional photos can be expensive, but they're worth it. Good photos tell a story, position you and your website, and tell people you care about your business. You can get by with a less than professional headshot, but try to avoid using crap photos for your products or services.
6. Down with Flash.
It's 2017. There is no need for Flash anymore...honestly, there wasn't really much of a need for Flash in the first place, in my opinion. Not only is it problematic on mobile devices, it's also sloooooow and outdated. If you want to have animations, opt for CSS webkit animations instead. While webkit animations don't always work on mobile devices, they will at least be static on mobile instead of just preventing the site from loading.
7. Get rid of your Splash page.
For a while, Splash pages went the way of Geocities, but for some reason that I don't quite understand, they've seen a resurgence in popularity. They're unnecessary. While there are web designers who preach "splash pages reduce bounce rate" they tend to piss people off even more. If you click a link to go to a website and you end up on a splash page first that says "click to enter" are you likely to, or are you more likely to go back to Google and look for another option?
Which of these tips are you going to implement on your site this week? Leave me a comment and let me know.
Ysmay is a web designer, digital strategist, business coach, and the founder of Designerless, a web design course and podcast dedicated to helping entrepreneurs manage their own web presence.