An unattractive amateurish website design can cripple your efforts to connect with customers or visitors and damage your brand. Whether you’re launching your first site, or diving into a redesign of an underperforming website, these five tips will help you make the most of your investment.
Start with a plan
There’s a definite temptation to go crazy with cool bells and whistles, however, heading into a site design without a plan is likely to backfire in a big way. Loading your site down with features can impact its performance and make it frustrating or impossible to use. If you don’t have clear goals in mind, you might spend a lot of time and money making the site look or work a certain way, but never achieve sales, conversions, or that marketing bump you need.
Consider what purpose your site should accomplish. Do you want to sell products directly, or point visitors to a real-world location? Are you raising awareness about a brand, sharing information, or asking visitors to take a particular action? How will your website benefit you? How will it please and benefit visitors? The answers to those questions will help you invest strategically and structure your site more effectively
Get a custom domain
There are sites that will host your website for free. You can launch a business page on Facebook or set up a blog on WordPress or Blogger without investing in a custom domain. But remember that visitors tend to regard these links as a bit amateurish or small time. Your brand will look more professional and worthwhile if you invest in a custom domain name that’s memorable and related. “Yourbrandname.com” is ideal, if you can get it.
Custom domains are a minimal annual expense that are worth the investment. Be serious about your brand and improve its public standing with a clear, easy-to-use domain name.
Use a template
Best practice is to get an experienced, talented website designer to customize your website, but even most designers build off of an established template. If you have a little coding and design experience or are willing to learn, you can customize it yourself.
Make sure your template incorporates responsive design principles, so it works and looks great on any screen size or device, optimizes it to be mobile friendly and follows security best practices. Alternatively, hire someone who knows what those are to customize the template for you. A template gets you part of the way there by incorporating sound design principles and behind-the-scenes coding. Starting from scratch tends to result in ugly designs and missing features and functionality.
You want people to find you and interact with your brand online. Social media integration is how you make that happen. Install smart sharing buttons for content so visitors can easily give you free publicity. Link up your social media profiles to gain followers and help site visitors stay in touch.
Then take things to the next-level with deeper integrations. Install an embedded version of your social media feed to feature fresh content on your site automatically. Feature responsively updated user-generated content on your site to show social proof to encourage visitors to recognize that your product, services, or brand is widely, and authentically appreciated.
Make it look good
Your website needs to be more than a jumble of text, links, and buttons. A good template or web designer can help you have an appealing layout across all devices and screen sizes, but it’s up to you to populate it effectively. Unless you have access to a quality custom photographer or graphic designer, you should find a great stock photo library.
Search results, social media platforms, and website users agree: media-rich sites are just better. Use photos, illustrations, and video to support a polished brand, draw attention and create shareable content. Large, sharp imagery looks best, and social media content with images or video is shared more and gets higher visibility on all platforms. If you want to access a range of options for your website’s visual content you can download here.
A good website design builds your brand and connects with fans, customers, or clients more effectively. Start with a plan by considering why you need a website, who it serves, and what you hope it will accomplish. Get a custom domain and a good template, so it looks appealing and professional. Integrate your social media channels and don’t forget to invest in high-quality images that support your brand and encourage visitors to share and engage with your content.