In today’s world, if you have anything at all to sell, or even if you want to provide a voluntary service or create a hobby resource, having a professional quality website is essential. Whether or not you have the skills to build a website yourself, there will be important decisions you need to make about what you want from it, things you will need to discuss with a designer or check that a template can provide for you. What do you need to know, and what are the most important things for you to prioritize?

Make it accessible

If people can’t use your website, it won’t matter how impressive it is, so the first thing you need to think about is accessibility. There are two aspects to this. One concerns making it accessible to disabled users – it’s a complex process, but there some excellent online guides to help you achieve it. The other concerns making it accessible on different kinds of devices: desktops, laptops, tablets and phones of all shapes and sizes. To do this, you’ll need to incorporate responsive design techniques, which enable images and blocks of text on your site to change size without distorting the overall layout. You may need to limit the amount of text you include on each page to make this work well.

Give it visual appeal

Even if your website focuses on dry, technical issues and that’s what you expect your visitors to be interested in, it’s always worth making an appeal to the emotions with great pictures. Inbuilt human biases make us take more interest in sites with pictures, and particular colors and types of image can do a lot to impact our mood, making us more receptive to sales or other kinds of persuasion – so learn to work with Photoshop and find out how this could help you! Remember that a good logo and carefully chosen signature colors are also important to the visual impact and memorability of your site.

Keep it up to date

You will want your website to be highly ranked by search engines and your visitors to have a reason for returning regularly. You’ll need to keep updating it to achieve that, and the easiest way to do that is to run a news feed. It could be news about your organization, about the subject your site focuses on or about anything likely to interest your readers. Lucky number picker keeps its readers informed about the latest prize money from lottery drawings, so anyone interested in lottery prizes has a reason to visit it regularly. Other sites feature things like NFL results, Hollywood gossip, stock prices or favorite recipes.

Make it useful

So, you’ve got people to visit your site but how are you going to make them stay there? The single best way to do this is to make it useful to them. Try supplying how-to tips or helpful videos on subjects related to what you do – for instance, if you sell tools you could provide DIY advice and if you run a hairdressing service you could offer advice on styles. Video is a particularly good approach because it quickly grabs visitors’ attention and is a very efficient way to convey information. It’s also more likely to be recommended than written content. When people find your site a helpful resource, they’ll do your outreach work for you.

Make it fit your audience

The term professional may convey a certain amount of distance, but that doesn’t mean that your website should have no personality. Quite the contrary – it can be a useful tool for building up your brand, communicating the values of your organization. Everything about your design, from the type of language you use to your color scheme, should be in tune with your brand image and what your audience is most likely to want. Of course, it is easier if you’re able to do market research before you begin the design process. but you can look at your website as a work in process and use it to run mini-surveys that help you learn how to please visitors as you go along. Because most people love to talk about themselves, this can act as a hook.

Your website is the equivalent of your front office, the very first thing people see when they approach your organization’s online HQ. Professional quality is essential if you are to make a good impression. It’s not as difficult to achieve as you might think, so don’t be daunted – just take your time and make sure you get it right.

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