5 ways to give your website a 'Professional' feel
How to attract new and returning visitors
Visiting a website is the online equivalent of stepping into a new supermarket. Before you have a chance to find out if they have the goods you need, you notice how the place looks, what it feels like to enter, the colours, the layout. If it’s not to your taste and there’s another place to shop a few doors down, you might turn back and go somewhere that’s brighter, homelier or less orange (no offence meant, Sainsbury’s!).
Your website is the place where your business or charity makes its important first impression. But it’s also the place visitors will hopefully return to - searching for more information about your brand, resources, or an understanding of the field you specialise in. If you’re trying to attract both new and returning visitors to your site, you need it to feel professional from the moment they enter the home page, to when they wander to the back aisles of your blog.
Here’s 5 ways to stay professional:
1. be consistent
Consistency is what brings everything together, like having all the musicians in a band playing in the same key. People don’t consciously spot inconsistency, but they feel it. We’re all a bit skittish when we browse websites, if we’re given any reason at all to click away, we will likely jump to a different site without even thinking about it. Consistency is key to maintaining interest. Pay attention to your page structure - is there a pattern for how your website threads together? Keep the fonts the same for sub-heads and for smaller text. Check the colours: are they consistent throughout? Try to keep the layout the same for similar pages so people can switch quickly between them and still feel orientated.
2. Only use high-quality imagery
The right images can turn a simple browsing session into a form of visual therapy. It’s entirely possible to beat your competitors just by having imagery that feels professional and perhaps artistic. If the images are off, the whole website is out-of-kilter. Stick to hi-res images that will scale well. Don’t be afraid to invest in the best photography you can, but if cost is an issue then use the best stock images you can find (we recommend unsplash.com). When it comes to team photos, take them all in the same location, on the same day, so that the lighting is consistent throughout. If you do it right, it’ll take your website further than you think.
3. Link it all together
Connectivity can tip the balance when it comes to attracting returning users. Every website has links, but not every website feels good to navigate. It’s like the difference between feeling lost in the backstreets of an unfamiliar city or walking down a well-signposted boulevard. You can direct your users well by clearly linking your homepage to the key areas of your site. Create a logical path to follow by writing each link so it can be read out of context. For instance, “Get in touch with us,” linking to a contact page or “Check out our testimonials,” linking to your case studies. Never, ever, ever use “Click here” or any other non-descript terminology that does not clearly represent the destination page.
At the end of every blog post or page, imagine where your users might want to go next. When you land on a useful page but can’t navigate easily to the next place of interest, it’s like having a beautiful shop front with a door that won’t open properly. Put links to related blog posts at the end of a new entry, or link to a contact page at the end of every description of your services. Your users might not verbally thank you for it, but they’ll be more likely to stay on your site, and be converted into a valuable lead.
4. Curate your content
Ask yourself who your users are, what kind of language they want to read and where they are probably reading it. People read websites differently when they’re sitting at an office laptop to when they’re reading from their phone on the Tube. Check that your language matches your brand, your titles are catchy and that there’s enough snappy subheadings breaking up the body of the text. That way people can quickly find exactly what they want and ignore the rest. Keep the most important information at the top of each page, so people don’t need to scroll too far to find what they’re looking for.
5. Focus on your user
There was a time in the 90s, especially when visiting your local council website, when having landed on the homepage with only one question in your mind (‘what time are the bins collected?’), you then had to navigate through eight pages of irrelevant information to find the answer.
Those early websites were created primarily for people inside the organisation, not outside. But you are going to do so much better! If your website is externally focused, your organisation may have to work harder in order to ensure that your potential clients don’t. This will mean you get more of them.
Don’t be tempted to structure your website according to internal departments; instead think about the kinds of questions your external users are asking and how you can quickly direct them exactly to where they want to go, using language that will make sense to them
If this post has whet your appetite for how you can give your website a professional feel, get in touch with us and see how we can help take your website to the next level.