Seven keys to a “professional” website design

Every client we talk to about their website, insists they need a “professional” looking website. I couldn’t agree more. Professionalism means showing your competence, attention to detail and that you care about what you do.

But how do you convey professionalism in a website? Nowadays, the rules for professional-looking websites are much the same as for any other medium, such as a print brochure.

  1. Direct and to the point
    You may think that everything is important, but you need to harness your passion. Consider what the MOST CRITICAL pieces of information are. Then edit that down to the essentials. Remember, website visitors have a short attention span. You need to get to the point right away. As a professional, you expected to know how to communicate well. The temptation is to dump all that extra information that won’t fit in your print brochure onto the website. To some extent, that is true, but the key message points still need to be front and centre.
  2. Easy navigation
    This has never changed. Visitors have to be able to find the information they need easily and quickly. Navigation needs to be well-organized and intuitive. Avoid menu labels that use jargon which might cause people to miss what they are looking for. Like information should be grouped together. Also, keep all information accessible with as few clicks as possible.
  3. Consistent styling
    Your website designer has taken great care to create a website that is well-designed, with consistent colours, white space, fonts and styling. It needs to be clean and clear. I beg of you, please don’t decide that certain sentences need to be highlighted or your clincher sales point has to be double-sized, bold, italicized and in fire engine red. If important information is getting lost on the page, then there’s probably too much on the page. (see point 1.)
  4. Good typography
    We no longer need to rely on Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New and Verdana – the common denominator system fonts – as the only ones that will display properly on a website. Web font technology means your site can use the same fonts that portray your brand everywhere, whether in print or online.
  5. Good content
    Show your readers you know what you’re talking about. In today’s jargon, it’s called “content marketing”. All it means is that you show your expertise in your field by talking intelligently about it. This is why informative articles (a.k.a. blogs) on your website are important. This way you are adding information without constantly changing the basic pages on your site. Blogs are also good for making your site more visible to search engines. Keep the writing style consistent and professional. That does not mean it has to be formal, technical or stuffy. You get more mileage out of a friendly, yet well-crafted, informative tone.
  6. Good images
    Professionally created images that illustrate your brand are essential. They could be photographs, icons or illustrations. It doesn’t really matter, so long as they reflect your brand, you are consistent in their use and they are good quality. Be consistent and loyal to your brand. Make sure your images are sized properly for the web. Using an over-sized image means your site will load slowly.
  7. It works on all platforms
    The number of website views on mobile devices is growing exponentially. A site that does notwork on smartphones and tablets is seen as old-fashioned – not to mention hard to read!

What do you think? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.

 

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