Imagine going for a job interview. How do you want to look that day? Clean shaven (if you are male of course!), wearing a suit, hair well done and a tie if appropriate etc… Why do we do this? To present ourselves as professional. First impressions count especially if there are several candidates for the job being interviewed. The Internet is a big market place with several competing and qualified candidates. You need to dress up your site to impress. Here is a list of 14 actionable tips that will make your website look professional. Good luck with your first impression. Hopefully it is a good one and lasts long.
You can download this Infographic and use it in your site as long as you give credit to the source with a link to this post.
1. Use Paid Images
Free images are like a free coffee that just doesn’t hit the spot and you feel like you just had hot water with some cream and a hint of coffee powder; they are good to start with, no doubt, but they don’t give the polished, professional look to your website. I hear you saying ‘professional images are too expensive’. What if I said, you can get professional quality stock images for as low as $1 per image? If you do some research you can find a site like Fotolia (Affiliate link, no additional cost to you). I use Fotolia and I save heaps of time, as I no longer have to go to multiple sites to find that perfect free image, if there was ever one like that. You can also reuse your purchased images. The image to your right is a paid image by the way and I used it recently in another post – being reused again see! The cost per use gets lower the more you use it. Don’t overuse it though!
Update: Check out this Visual Guide for 28 Free Image Sources
2. Use your Own Domain Name
This is mandatory for a professional looking website. Do not use a free domain like yoursite.hostgator.com. If you are serious about a blogging future then invest that extra $15 or so to get a domain name. It’s well worth it, after all your domain name is an asset.
3. Organise your Menu and Reduce Clutter
Once you hit about 15 posts you will see some of the posts are no longer in your home page. If there are blog posts that you think are important or want to highlight as good reads then why not add them to a sub menu? Again, remember your site navigation and menu structure has to be intuitive to use. Ask someone unbiased to review the menu structure for you. You can also look at other successful sites to learn a tip or two. When designing a menu structure for your site, do it with ‘people are lazy’ attitude and you have to make it easy for them to find stuff; do not overcrowd the menu.
4. Ensure your Home Page Loads Super-Fast
Your website speed and load times are part of your brand. No one wants to come back to a slow website regardless of how good the content is. Did you know Google takes website load times into consideration when ranking sites? A slow website is like a slow death. Start by analysing your website performance using Google PageSpeed Insights. See this Infographic – How to Improve your Blogs Performance.
5. Use a Logo on Your Website or Blog
Get a designer to create a logo for your site. A logo helps build a brand immensely. You can also use the logo in your email signatures. This does not have to be expensive.
6. Update your Favicon
Your favicon is an image on the browser title. By default it is ugly like a box or a WordPress logo. Please use any image other than the default. If you have a logo, you could use that or if you have extra cash, then get the designer to create a custom image for this along with your logo.
7. Add a Video
Adding a video is a quick and easy way to make your website stand out. This doesn’t have to be complicated or long. Pick a topic from one of your blog posts and show people how to do something instead of just having text and instructions. You can upload this kind of video to YouTube and hopefully get some traffic from it. You can also have a 1 minute intro video if you feel more comfortable with that. Please don’t do a video on how to navigate your site. This is bad. 95% of visitor’s coming to your site are not going to look at this video and navigating and using your site should be self-explanatory; if not, you have got the ‘user experience’ aspect of your site completely wrong. If this is the case then spend some time researching this topic and also look at some blogs in your niche.
8. Add an Infographic
Talking about throwing the cat among the pigeons why not create a wow factor – an Infographic. This can cost you a little bit, but what better way to get noticed. This can also help in creating backlinks, if your Infographic is good and is shared. This is also an awesome idea to network with fellow bloggers in your niche. See my Infographic – 50 Blogging Tips by the Experts and see the number of comments and how many times it was shared; I am still surprised myself. Hopefully you will help share this one too 🙂
9. Do a Podcast or an Audio Blog
Who said video is the only valuable alternate media? Most professional bloggers do a podcast or an audio blog, example – Pat Flynn and Ileane Smith to name a few.
10. Follow and Learn from a Pro and their Website
It is of no surprise to my regular readers that I follow Pat Flynn and he is my mentor. I learn and do everything Pat says. I look at his site for inspiration. I am not saying you should follow Pat but rather find a mentor and follow their advice. Do not blindly copy everything they are doing but rather take the concepts, ideas and create something of your own. I recently had the pleasure of working with Zac Johnson and started learning from him too! In fact Zac has been kind enough to answer a couple of questions and he has been amazing to work with and very encouraging. Thanks for the support Zac. (Where is Pat Flynn?) There is too much information out there and some conflicting tips and ideas. It is much simpler to follow the leader than the heard.
11. Pay Attention to your Website Colour Combinations
I think this one is self-explanatory. If your website colour combinations are palatable, then your site will look professional and wise versa.
12. Update your Website Subheading
Your website sub heading is just under the website heading at the top of the screen. This is your 3 second elevator pitch, GO… My first sub heading for this site was “Journey to Financial Freedom” and now it is “Journey to Financial Freedom through Online Business and Real Estate”. Make it meaningful, experiment with different colours to make it stand out but keep the overall colour combination in mind.
13. Be Unique and Stand Out from the Crowd
If you are simply following a mentor or doing what everyone else is doing then why should anyone consume the information you provide? What is different in what you provide? Surely, your site is not the only one in your niche. If so, well done. Do something different, unique and creative to establish yourself and your brand.
14. Use an Image for your Profile
When you reply to comments, people can put a face to whom they are interacting with; having a personal photo on your profile will humanize you more and build trust.
You don’t have to implement all of the above tips to make your blog look professional or stand out; pick and choose what you want to implement. Some tips take longer to implement, some have costs while some give an amazing professional feel to your site. Go you bloggers of the future!