7 Ways to Make Your Website Look More Professional
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Just because you're designing your own website, doesn't mean it can't look professional! Here are a few tips that will put your site above the rest.
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1. Use a Custom Domain + Email
First thing's first, get your own custom domain! This is a very noticeable distinction between a professional site and a not-so professional one. What do I mean by custom domain?
It's the difference between:
yourbiz.squarespace.com (unprofessional) vs. yourbiz.com (professional)
So rather than having solopreneursidekick.squarespace.com, my domain is solopreneursidekick.com
And with email, it's the difference between:
firstname.lastname@example.org (unprofessional) vs. email@example.com (professional)
So rather than having firstname.lastname@example.org, my email is email@example.com
How on earth do you do this?!
Firstly, you purchase your domain from a website like namecheap.com or godaddy.com. This should only cost you around $10-$15/year.
And for custom email, you can either purchase it as an add-on from one of the sites above or you can sign up for G-Suite by Google, which is just $5/month.
2. Upload a Custom Favicon
Not everyone might catch this, but as a web designer, I notice right away! A favicon is the small logo at the top of your browser window. Though the icon is small, it has a big impact on how professional your website appears. And if you leave it blank, the icon of whatever platform you have used to build your website (Squarespace, Wordpress, Wix etc.) will appear (which is just plain confusing!).
You will need to use either a small version of your logo or take a part of it, like the first letter of your business name or just the graphic part of your logo. Have a look at popular sites, like Facebook (which uses just the F) or Twitter (which uses just the bird) as examples.
3. Get Rid of (or seriously limit) Ads
Yikes! Flashy ads can both date and clutter your site. Plus - there are better ways of making money online now! If you must keep them, be selective about which ones you show and put them in your sidebar (not your header).
4. Use White Space
Sometimes DIYers feel like they need to fill up every empty space on their website. Let your site breathe! White space (or negative space) is the easiest way to do this. For example, leave enough space in between paragraphs so that your content is easier to read.
5. Make it Mobile-Responsive
Many of your website visitors will be looking at your site for the first time on their phone. Make sure to test your website to make sure there are no formatting issues. I use Squarespace for my website and all templates come mobile-responsive (a huge plus!).
6. Use a Pro Photo of You
That grainy photo of you on your about page just ain't doing you justice! Common mistakes with photos: just cropping a photo of you from a wedding (I can still see the hair of the person next to you!), using a blurry photo or stretched image. You deserve a professional looking photo!
Can't afford to hire a photographer? Not to worry! Grab your iPhone, find good lighting (try facing a window if you can), stand in front of a plain white or coloured background and ask your BFF to take a few shots for you.
7. Keep Image Tone Consistent
Mismatched image tones is another warning sign of a non-professional website. Having a black and white photo next to a colour-popping one simply throws the eye off. Try placing all your website images next to one another and see how cohesive they are.
There you have it! And the good news? These are all easy to implement!