Did you DIY your website? Here’s a few super quick fixes to get it looking like more of a professional website, in order to make a better impression and build trust with your potential customers.
1. Connect a Custom Domain
One of the most immediate things potential customers will see about your website (before they even click on a link) is its address.
Your website platform will automatically set you up with an address on a subdomain (eg [yourbiz].[platform].com), but that doesn’t mean you should keep it!
Adding a custom domain only costs you $10-30/year for domain registration, so skipping this step tends to make you look cheap and unprofessional – which doesn’t really inspire confidence in your potential customers. Every platform I’ve used allows connecting a custom domain on their lowest/base plan, so take advantage, and instantly look like a more professional website!
Custom Domain Tips
- Keep your domain separate from your website: Many website platforms will allow you to purchase a domain directly through them, but don’t – that’s not what they’re designed for, and it will make it a nightmare if you ever want to move your website.
- Avoid seedy domain registrars (and unneeded extras): Unfortunately a lot of domain registrars will take advantage of folks who don’t know what they’re doing or what they need in order to up-sell them on hundreds of dollars of things you probably don’t need – I know one person who went to register a domain and wound up with an added $800 of extras they would never use! I recommend Google Domains or VentraIP.
- Make sure it’s as short as possible, and easy to spell: A professional website has a professional domain, so keep that in mind when choosing/selecting your domain option. While we don’t always manually type in a website’s address, also consider that at some point you’ll probably want to add your own email address, which people may have to type.
- Consider where your customers are: If most of your customers are from a particular region, you might want to use a domain with the appropriate extension in order to let them know you’re here for them. E.g., if most of your customer are Aussie, they’re probably more likely to shop from a website whose address ends in .au.
2. Set a Good Sharing Image
This is the thumbnail that shows up when you post a link on social media.
In theory, suitably-sized images are shown with a horizontal 1:2 rectangle (twice as wide as high), but Facebook in particular will often switch to a square thumbnail depending on the context, so keep this in mind.
If your business deals with physical goods, this is a great spot to show them off with a nice photo, otherwise your logo on a plain background is also a fine option. A good sharing image establishes you as a professional website before they even click through!
3. Set a Favicon
A favicon in the small icon displayed next to your website title in your browser window/tab, and it’s something folks often skip over when they build their own website. Ideally this would be a branded icon, but anything is better than nothing.
If you don’t have a professional brand identity with an icon you can use, you can make something quick in Canva to get you going – just make sure you check what size/format your web platform wants you to upload, as they all have different preferences.
4. Clean Up Your Navigation
For a good user experience, your website navigation should be simple, and should help users achieve their goal on your website as easily as possible. Consider what they’re there to do, and the path they’re likely to take to do this.
E.g. if you’re an ecommerce website selling different products, you’ll probably want to have your major product categories in your main navigation.
Ideally, you want about five (5) items on the top-level of your main menu, and an absolute maximum of seven (7). A positive user experience is a professional website experience!
5. Keep it Simple
Simple design is good design, and less is more!
- Stick to 1-2 (readable) fonts: One for headings, and one for body text. Both should be easy to read, and a basic sans-serif font is best for body text (e.g. Arial, Helvetica, this font (Montserrat)), as these are easiest to read on a screen.
- Stick to primarily black-and-white: Or at least a very dark colour and a very light colour. Adding too many colours can make your website look unprofessional, and can make it much more difficult to read your text. If people can’t read the text, they just won’t, and there’s a decent chance they won’t come back to try again.
- Brand/accent colours: If you want to add a branded/accent colour, you can use this for headings and/or buttons. Make sure the contrast between the text and background colours are sufficient (you can test this using a contrast checker with the colours’ hex codes [#123456]).
Looking for some inspo? Check out DesignRush’s post of 13 beautiful websites.
Bonus: Pair Your Professional Website with a Professional Email.
While it’s not technically part of your website, a professional email also goes a long way to legitimising your business and building trust. My top pick for this is Google Workspace.
Hopefully this has given you a few quick wins for levelling up your website! While this is only scratching the surface of factors to consider for a professional website design/experience, it’ll get you off to a good start.
If you already have a website and need a hand getting it prepped for launch or making some improvements, I’d love to help! Feel free to take a look at my website services, or get in touch to discuss how I can help.
* This blog contains some affiliate links. I may be paid a commission if you use these links to make a purchase.