Your website can be one of your biggest marketing assets, but for that to be true, you need to give it regular attention. Most successful sites are strategically designed initially, but they’re also constantly being updated and improved.
To get the most out of your site, you should check on it pretty regularly to make sure everything is up to date and up to your standards. So, here’s how to make your website look more professional next time you jump in to look things over.
Keep in mind that most websites are forever a work in progress, so it’s ok if you don’t have all of these nailed down. We’re all evolving, so don’t feel like you’re behind! Just keep moving forward, audit your site regularly, and give it some attention here and there. Let’s jump right into it and talk about how to make your website look more professional relatively quickly.
1.) Simplify things
Keeping it simple is usually a good idea for any website. People get overwhelmed easily. Especially people who look at screens for a significant portion of their day!
That’s no fault of their own, though. Most of us need to be online for at least a few hours every day, so all of the links we click on start to rack up quickly. When things look cluttered, it’s common for people to nope out of your website entirely. Think about what you can do to simplify your website. Here’s some of the most common issues I see with websites in terms of clutter:
- Website main menu (3-6 options is the most you want here for a majority of websites)
- Dropdowns on the main menu
- Website footer
- Too many images or decorative elements
- Too many calls to action (Sign up for my freebie, join my email list, follow me on Facebook, read my blog, enter this giveaway, take this quiz. Try to focus on no more than two of these for any website page. Better yet, just choose one call to action for each page and consider which pages you can use the same CTA for. The more you ask customers to do, the less they’ll end up doing. )
2.) Get rid of your popups unless they do really well for you
Popups. Popups everywhere.
Most of us hate them and will click away unless we’re really invested in the content on a site. Think about your website from a user’s perspective and look at the analytics on your popups if you have any.
Is the negative user experience worth it for you? It might be, depending on how many people are opting into your popup offer. Some do really well! For example, offering a discount in exchange for the visitor’s email address or offering a high-value lead magnet can convert amazingly.
But I don’t recommend popups by default because they can be one of the worst things to add to your site since they cause people to leave your site much quicker, on average. And they can look spammy if you don’t do them right. Entry popups, specifically, can crush your user experience.
3.) Make sure the content on your site is up to date
Picture this: Someone gets in touch with you asking for a product or service you no longer offer or a price that you don’t use anymore.
Now you have to respond to that person and let them know the bad news. You hate to see it, I hate to see it, etc. It’s never a good feeling.
The best way to make sure you’re site is consistently up to date is to work it into your weekly, biweekly, or monthly website maintenance routine. Here’s some of the things that can get overlooked in terms of updated info:
- Operating hours
- Best way to contact you
- Links for scheduling or purchasing
- Contact form questions
- Announcements on the top of your site or any special offers or sales
- Sales funnel links, course links, social links
4.) Sprinkle testimonials throughout your site
Rather than having a separate page for reviews and testimonials, add a few to each relevant page of your site. This increases the chance that people will actually see and read your testimonials, which is what you want because social proof is so powerful. Most of your site visitors won’t bother to click on a testimonials page, but they are likely to read a few reviews if they’re on more commonly-visited pages, like your homepage and services pages.
Make sure that the testimonials you feature actually reinforce your expertise and talk about specifics instead of just saying “Susan was great to work with.” The best way to get ultra-specific and juicy testimonials is to ask for them and to ask specific questions when asking a client for a testimonial. (This is gold if you don’t already do it!)
It’s reassuring for people to see that they aren’t alone in hiring you and that others have had a good experience, so consider adding a couple of testimonials on your homepage, about page, services page, and any other relevant pages to boost your inquiries.
5.) Use HTTPS
Waaait, before your eyes glaze over, I promise that this is important. I’ll make it quick.
According to Google, “HTTPS helps prevent intruders from tampering with the communications between your websites and your users’ browsers.” So, for security reasons, you want to make sure you’ve got this handled. Google Chrome and Firefox both display warnings to users when they try to visit an HTTP website.
Here’s what it looks like when your site is secure:
If you see an unlocked icon or a red one, you need to implement HTTPS.
The annoying part about this is that different web hosting companies handle it differently, so I can’t give you an exact set of steps for how to implement this unless I know who your web host is.
Look inside your website hosting dashboard for any mention of “HTTPS” or a “SSL Certificate.” Some website hosts will help you with this, so if you can’t find it, just send in a support ticket to your website host and ask them if they can help you implement HTTPS on your site.
Some website hosts charge you extra for this, so keep that in mind. I don’t recommend hosting with a company that charges extra for a basic Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, but if they are charging you for a different type of certificate, that’s another story. If you have an ecommerce site where you’re taking customer payment info, you definitely want to pay for your SSL certificate. Here’s an article about the difference between free and paid SSL certificates.
6.) Check it out on mobile and tablet-sized screens
Visit your website on mobile and tablet screens to make sure there aren’t any overlapping elements, popups that can’t be closed on small screens, and that there’s enough whitespace that your website isn’t overwhelming.
It’s notably more difficult to make websites look good on mobile and tablet screens because you have less space to work with, so if this applies to you, then know that you’re not alone! Just set some time aside to chip away at fixing any layout issues on mobile and tablet, because chances are, a significant portion of your website visitors are looking at your site on a mobile device. You can use Google Analytics to confirm this for your own site, by the way!
7.) Keep your design cohesive
This is honestly a lot more difficult than it sounds and we all struggle with it, I’m pretty sure. You want to make sure that your site is on brand without becoming overwhelming for your visitors.
Too much going on will always make people confused, so here’s a list of things to take a look at when trying to determine whether your site need some design changes.
- Don’t use too many fonts on your site (At most, you’re looking at 2-3 fonts, ideally 1-2)
- Make sure your icons and graphics are all the same style
- Use whitespace. If you don’t know what whitespace is, here’s a quick video explanation. They’re talking about infographics in the video, but the same applies to websites. Whitespace is a huge way to increase clarity on your website so that visitors actually understand what you do and how you can help them.
- Format everything legibly and logically
- Don’t use too many colors. Stick to your brand colors, though you can use different hues of the same colors if you need lighter and darker colors to work with
- Keep everything aligned and balanced
- Avoid picking random sizes for your text. Make all of your H2 headers the same size and all of your paragraph text the same size, and so on
There’s a lot more I could ramble about related to keeping your website design consistent and visually appealing, but I’ll keep it simple for now!
Wrapping it up: How to make your website look more professional
What’d ya think? Were any of these website tips useful for you or is your site locked down and ready to go? Let me know if you have any questions about anything in this list in the comments and I’ll answer back as soon as I see your question.
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