Improve these 10 things on your website to make it look more professional
Written by Nadin Thomson
- Is your website mobile friendly?
- The size of your logo
- The size of your header image
- Contact information
- Privacy & data protection information
- Website terms & conditions, refunds, returns
- Skimmed milk decaf – thin website
- Online shop without info
- Social media icons
If you’ve built your own website, you will have spent a considerable amount of time on the design and content on your website.
What I see frequently when people create their own website is that they put too much meaning in certain aspects of the website, however, they forget to include important elements that make your website look professional.
Let’s go through them so you can amend your website to make it appear professional.
1. Does your website work on mobile devices?
You may assume that most of your website visitors look at your website on a PC or laptop and it looks fine there, right?
It’s always better to check the data. Worldwide, over 54% of people access websites and blogs on their phone (you can check the actual stats here).
Depending on your industry, business, product or service, this might be different: It might be way more or it might be way less than 54%.
Log into your Google Analytics account and see what the percentage is for your website.
Even with a lower percentage – say 30% – it’s still important to have a properly functioning website on mobile devices.
If you have 1000 visitors a month to your website, and 30% of them – i.e. 300 people – try to find out information via their mobile phone, then that’s 300 people who are now frustrated and won’t come back to your website.
Mobile is hugely important! Not only for your visitors, but also for Google.
Google penalises websites that are not mobile friendly. This means even if your website has lots of amazing information, if it’s not mobile friendly, Google will not show it high up in the search results.
2. The size of your logo
It’s soooo exciting to design your own logo. I’ve been there many times and I love the process.
It’s so creative and once you’ve found the right logo for your business, it’s only natural to want to show it off.
One of the main differences between self-build and professionally built websites is the size of the logo.
The logo on a professionally built website tends to be substantially smaller in comparison to websites that were built with no professional guidance.
If you’re thinking about a new logo make sure the format of the logo is horizontal.
Square or round and vertical logos cannot be easily displayed in the website header. Especially if they contain additional text, you cannot reduce the logo much as the text would become unreadable.
Check these 4 website examples of big websites and see how small their logos are. It’s about communication, rather than “me, me, me” 🙂
What’s wrong with a big logo?
The logo does not convey any information that helps your website visitor in any way. It should be there, but it should not dominate the website header.
I have a lovely logo for my photography website (see below), but it was too big and took up too much space – especially on mobile devices. So I simply reduced it to the words only which contains everything people need to know. It’s now much less dominant on mobile devices and I can focus on providing information rather than celebrating my logo.
A logo that’s too big will take up too much space on mobile devices.
Let me show you what I did with the photography one.
My actual logo is the one on the left. I absolutely love the crest. I use this in my marketing brochures and as a watermark on my photos sometimes. But on my website, I only use the narrow one without the crest in order to have more space to provide useful information to my website visitors.
Your logo does not need to contain your strapline!
A strapline is a short statement or sentence which should summarize what you offer. You can see straplines in older logos that say things like “Organic Milk since 1995”. It’s better to include your strapline – if you have one – somewhere in your website header as text.
It’s better to have no strapline in your logo. Why? As your business develops it’s very likely you want to amend this over time. Trust me – in a few years you might cringe at the strapline you used when you started your business.
If you want to change the strapline in your logo, you would then need to ask a graphic designer to change it (unless you’ve designed the logo yourself of course).
Furthermore, people won’t try to read small text that’s included in a graphic and too small to read.
3. The filesize of your header images
Website builders often give you the option to include what is called a “hero” image in your website header.
You can decide if the image is in letterbox format (i.e. narrower but takes the whole width of your website), or you can switch it to take up the whole space in the browser.
Images are hugely important, and hero images can sum up in one glance what your business is all about. However…
Make sure the filesize of your header images is less than 250 KB!
Check your website speed in Google. Your mobile rating should be at least above 60, and your desktop rating should be above 90. There are many factors why a website is slow to load, but too large images is often one of them.
How to check the image filesize in WordPress
Let me show you how to check the image size on your WordPress website.
- Open your WordPress dashboard
- Click on Media > Media Library
- Click on an image you want to check
- Once the image is opened, check the file size in the image info box on the right.
- If the filesize is too large (more than 250 KB), resize it (reduce the image quality in Canva or Photoshop), then re-upload.
If you want to display an image, always make sure the file size is below 250 KB and the dimensions are roughly the space you want to fill (for example 1000 px x 700 px).
It can be super difficult to reduce the file size for certain photographs because they contain too much image detail.
Avoid images that contain:
- Leaves, bushes, trees, flowers
- Paint strokes
- Tiny patterns (such as the render on the wall of a house, wood grain, gravel)
- Wool, detailed photos of fabric
- Grass (this is the hardest to optimise!!)
Make sure header images don’t take up too much space on mobile devices.
When someone accesses your website on a mobile phone, the first thing you want them to see is a lovely image, but the first thing they want to see is also a textual confirmation that they are on the correct website.
If you’re selling reusable nappies for example, then – on your homepage – show a happy baby or a product photo with a big strapline across the image saying “reusable nappies UK” (if you sell them in the UK).
Check the below examples and how they are displayed on mobile phones. I searched for “Wedding photographer New Orleans” and looked at the results in Google. Have a look at the screenshots.
It’s not clear what they offer. They could be a florist. The location is clear, but the service is not. The logo is too big and the text is too small to read on mobiles.
They try to be different by putting the logo below the image. Website visitors expect the layout in a certain way: Logo, Menu, content. It’s important not to make them learn new things when things structure has evolved over the years. It’s not clear what they offer and where.
The logo is too big, the text in the logo too small to read. There is no mention of location and what they do. The two lines do not add anything and this space could have been used better to confirm what the visitor is after.
The contact button is too big and it’s the first I read. However, people need to read information first, see the photos and fall in love with the style before they would contact this person. They also fail to mention their location.
It’s unclear what they do and where. Lovely photo, but they could be event organisers.
Lovely photo, but unclear what they specialise in and where.
The logo is very hard to read. The image is not clearly supporting the logo, it could be event design or a florist. But they mention the location which is great.
Lovely photo, but it’s not clear what they offer and where.
Logo is too big. There is no mention of what they specialise in and where.
My website looks almost like an app. People can look at different things and I have created different CTAs (Calls to action) based on where they are in their wedding photographer booking process.
Use fonts and colours to guide your visitors
Here’s how people read text – in this order
You can use font size and colours to guide people to what to look at and the order you want them to look at them.
If you provide IT support for local companies in Edinburgh, then that’s what your strapline should say: “IT Support Edinburgh”.
It doesn’t need to be super fancy. The shorter it is and the easier it is to understand the better – for both your website visitors and for Google!
What should you do instead of a big header?
Unless you’re a photographer or artist or have a portfolio website, you can use a coloured band instead that contains your most important keywords, such as “Cleaning Supplies Scotland”, or “Commercial Laundry Scotland”.
4. Make sure to include contact information
When you’ve built your own website, make sure to include at least one telephone number on your website. If you work from home (like I do), you don’t want to include your home address. So I show where I am based (in my case Dunfermline, Scotland).
I have seen so many websites of photographers and other small businesses and the business name could be “Lisa Marie Photography”. But then Lisa forgot to mention her surname anywhere on her website, she didn’t include her location nor country and there was no telephone number anywhere.
This can make people feel suspicious: “what has she got to hide?”. Maybe they want to check you out on LinkedIn, so make sure you include the necessary information to build trust.
The location is hugely important – especially if you offer your services locally. In the above photographer example, there was no mention on her website anywhere about where she offers her services. If I stumble across her website and love her images, I would need to contact her to find out if she takes photos in California, but if she’s in Florida or Spain, then you’ve wasted that website visitor’s time.
If you only deliver to a certain country (your own for example), make sure you include this in several locations.
In my case, I help people – mostly women – worldwide with building and improving their websites. It’s not restricted to a certain location.
But for my wedding photography services it’s a different story. I only offer them in the Edinburgh area in Scotland, and I mention that everywhere on my website so there is no doubt that I am an Edinburgh wedding photographer.
Not showing your telephone number also raises suspicions. If you still have a job and you’re building your business and you simply cannot answer calls when you are working in your day job, the best thing to do is buy a second cheap phone (or add a second SIM card to your mobile phone if this is possible) and allow people to call you anytime.
Simply divert calls to your answering service and call them back when your work has finished. They don’t need to know about your day job. If they can call you and leave you a message, they mostly assume you’re busy working with another client and you cannot answer right now.
You could also ask them to message you on Facebook Messenger or through another direct messaging service and you can then reply in your own time. They will feel instantly connected with you.
I don’t have an office address, what’s shall I do?
I used to have a photography studio many years ago, that’s the only time I actually had an office address.
Years ago, your business location was important for Google to determine if your business is actually located where you say it is, but that’s no longer the case.
However, if you’re keen to display an address, you can easily get a virtual address. This service is provided in most cities by companies who have a business presence in your preferred city. Simply enter “virtual address + your preferred city” in Google (e.g. “virtual address London”) and you will find several providers.
In the UK, this costs approximately £10-15 per month and quite often the address is provided by a business at that address. They sometimes have a receptionist should someone walk in and enquire about your business. They would then say you are not available right now but they can leave a message for you.
When I had a virtual address in Edinburgh, I had a lot of people call me and ask if they can drop in for passport photos. I don’t offer this service, but quite often people assume that any photographer can provide this.
I eventually removed the address from Google as most people search online but don’t require the photographer to have an actual studio or office in Edinburgh.
5. Privacy and data protection information
This is a hassle, I know, but it’s important to display this stuff. There are websites out there that allow you to download a template either for free or for a small fee. You then amend the template and add the text to your website.
Make sure to let people know about cookies if you use them (most WordPress websites use them!!).
Also tell them if you use Google Analytics or any other software that checks your website visitor behaviour.
Most people click OK anyway, but it’s important to display it as this also instills trust in your website visitors.
6. Website terms and conditions, refunds, returns
If you sell a physical product or a service, tell people exactly what’s going to happen after they purchased from you.
Tell them how long it takes for the product to arrive, what courier you use, if you use a signed-for service, if it’s insured (if that’s recommended).
Tell them about your refunds and returns policy too.
The more info you provide, the more you will look like an established business that knows what they’re doing!
Some companies use their easy refunds and returns process as a selling point (see example below – under point 9).
7. Show your prices
Yes, show them!
Not showing your prices these days is like the middle finger of the internet!! (It’s not me that coined that phrase but my content marketing hero Marcus Sheridan).
I totally agree with this statement. If people cannot see how much you charge – not even an indication – they will most likely NOT contact you to ask for your prices! They will simply go back to Google and search until they find a website that shows them the prices.
I can hear your “but”…
- “What if the competition finds out?”
- “I don’t have a simple price as the customer needs to let me know first what they want”
- “If I show my prices I will put off my customers”
Trust me, I’ve been there!
Your competition knows your prices!
How you may wonder?
Have you ever had an enquiry about your prices but then it never went any further? Yeah, your competitors shopped you! (I did this at least once a year and pretended to be a bride to find out what my main competitors were charging). This is totally legit and is called “competitor research”.
If you feel awkward doing this yourself, ask a friend to do this on your behalf.
You don’t have a clear price because you need to know first what your customer wants?
I see this often on websites that sell services. They don’t want to reveal their prices because they want to provide a bespoke quote.
This is often the case for web designers, photographers, artists who provide commissioned pieces, service providers such as florists, DJs, bands you can hire.
In this case, show your website visitors a “from” price or a “typical” price.
It took me a years to be totally transparent with my prices but now I actually let people calculate their wedding photography package!
But if you’re still hesitant, tell them how much people typically spend with you and how much your prices are from (so the starting price of your packages).
This will give people an idea if they can afford you and if they want to take it further – contact you, buy from you.
The mistake many people make when they start out is this: they want to just work and make money and work with anybody. I used to do that. I provided baby, new-born, family, boudoir, portrait and wedding photography. Over the years, I niched down and wedding photography became my thing. When I started showing my prices, I said it was from XXX for a full-day wedding. Now I am super transparent and show my prices.
I even took it a step further and added a calculator to my website. Visitors can now move a few sliders and build their own wedding photography package.
When I didn’t show my prices, I got too many enquiries. Too many I can hear you ask? Yes, too many! I only wanted to book 20 weddings per year, but I got over 30 enquiries per month! They were from all kinds of couples with different wedding requirements and budgets. However, my wedding photography service is only for couples who get married in bigger venues with a bigger budget.
By not displaying my prices I encouraged everyone to contact me. While this was flattering, it also wasted my time (and more importantly theirs!!). Most of them were looking for a cheaper photographer. I put in the same amount of effort for every enquiry only to either hear nothing back or get the dreaded “too expensive” reply.
By showing my prices I now only get enquiries from couples who can afford my services. They never question my prices and the only query they have is if I am free on their wedding date.
8. Skimmed milk decaf website in a small cup
This sounds super bonkers, I know! We all have to start somewhere and you will know by now that building your own website is way more time-consuming than you first anticipated.
By skimmed milk decaf website I mean a website without substance! I am a coffee lover and the above is pretty much a pointless exercise.
People need to be able to fall in love with you and your service. If your website only has 3 pages (Home, Service, Contact), there’s no chance for this to happen.
If they’ve never heard from you, but they are on your website and they like your product, they want to know more.
- Who is behind the business (show a photo of yourself!!)
- what’s the story
- how can you help them with their buying decision and so on
- What information do they need to buy your product or service
- What questions do people have before buying this type of product or service
- What objections do they have
- Can you recommend other suppliers to them that might be better for certain visitors
Give your website visitors information they can consume.
The rule of thumb is this: The more expensive your type of product or service, the more time they will spend researching it.
Imagine you need to buy a set of highlighter pens. You enter “highlighters” in Google, you see Amazon, you know they deliver quickly. You click on the website, you check the ones with the best prices and good reviews, you buy.
This whole process takes probably a few minutes. But Google and Amazon provided all the info you needed to make a quick buying decision.
Now imagine buying a car. Unless you’re a millionaire, you probably have a dream car, you look through auto seller websites and arrange a few test drives. You read up on insurance costs and fuel consumption and whatever else is important to you (fun to drive, look of the car, colour options, wheel types, toys in the car – heated mirrors etc.). You will spend a lot of time before you make a decision.
Do you provide all the info on your website so visitors can make an informed decision about your offering?
9. Online shop without information
You have an online shop with lots of products, but the product details are quite sparse.
Quite often business owners find it difficult to talk about their own products because they deal with them all day every day. They know them inside out and they don’t want to bore their customers with the details.
But you need to do exactly that – not bore them, but inform them.
One of the best ecommerce websites I have come across is 1ereavenue.com. I have never been able to buy clothes online because even in the shops I find it hard to find clothes that fit me. However, when I discovered them, they show the product in different images, they show a short 10 second video of each product, they have ALL the information I need to make a decision.
Let me show you.
10. Are your social media icons in the header?
Do you show your social media icons in the header of your website? If so, move them right down to the bottom – into the footer.
You want people to follow you on Social Media, but Social media is also a place we go to when we’re bored or when we want to get distracted or we want to find out what our friends doing.
When you’ve finally enticed someone to visit your website and find out more about you and your services, don’t ask them to leave and get distracted.
Make your website a Zen-like experience. Laser-focus on one thing: keeping your potential customers with you for as long as you can.
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