I start this list with imagery, because if you look at an underwhelming website and then you look at a great looking website side by side, 9 times out of 10, the biggest stand-out will be the imagery. Sometimes in business you have to spend a little money to make a lot of money. I believe this to be one of those cases. Of course if you have a close buddy who also is a photographer, by all means take what you can get. But in most of our cases, we just need to bite the bullet and hire someone. Apples and oranges aren’t different enough for an analogy in this case. A more appropriate analogy would be apples and sports cars. It would be closer if the apple had been sitting on a room temperature counter for a few years. Anyway, what I am trying to say, is that the difference between a website with stunning imagery and a website with small mediocre photos, is devastatingly different. Some non-designer folk may claim that this is just a hoity-toity opinion based on aesthetics. But websites with professional photography are proven to get more positive feedback, appreciation, and a noticeable return on their investment.
One good rule of thumb as far as typography in the web goes, is to never allow your pages to feel too busy. By this, I mean that you will want your text to feel like it has room to breathe. For the most part you shouldn’t ever need to use a typeface that is “scripty” and hard to read. For website typography it is always a good idea to use a clear, easy to read font that portrays the look and feel your company is trying to convey. See example below.
Now there are some extenuating circumstances where the option on your left MIGHT be appropriate for your design. But unless you have paid a designer to make that decision for you so that they can incorporate it seamlessly into the original design, a safer bet would be the option on the right. The typography world is magical at its best and confusing at its worst. It can sometimes be scary and overwhelming and if these are some of the emotions you are experiencing when building your site or looking at your site, or if you feel any doubt that the typography used in your site is appropriate, the next step is finding a designer who not only loves, but lives and breaths each and every letter there is. Then you will know for sure that your site is in good hands.
Unless you have hired someone to write content for you, this is something that any website owner will have to deal with at some point or another. If there is one single thing that holds up a website from going live, it is almost always the content for some reason. Now as someone who writes blog posts on a daily basis, I can sympathise with the difficulty of starting out with a blank screen and coming up with the verbiage for your entire website. A good place to start might be writing down a list of all of your pages side by side, and then making bullet points under each page listing the major points you would like to cover on each page. And then from there hopefully it will be a less daunting task to come up with a few paragraphs for each. You would be surprised though how many people overlook this step. Even if you hire a company to write content for you, in order for an outside source to do a good job at this task, you will have to give them something of substance to start with. Another big mistake people make is thinking that content you wrote 3 years ago is still good. It may be a great template for you to go by but every year, you should re-read through your sites content and make sure it is all still valid and true to your company’s current voice. If you don’t sit down and put the time and effort into your website’s content, then why should anyone else take the time to look at it?
I end this list with possibly the most important element of any good website. Let me ask you this. What good is having a vividly beautiful website, if you can find the contact page? This is just a small example of what I mean but you get the point. Your site’s UX (user experience) solely depends on you having your ducks in a row. Some people might start this process by determining what they want their viewers to experience, and listing them out. Whatever your process is, and whether you get a design firm or a UX Designer specialist to help you out, making sure that your viewers have an easy time navigating through your website is of utmost importance.
If these four elements are truly paid attention to then you will really have a successful website on your hands. Most of the items covered here are pretty easy to notice off hand also. The only element missing from this list is the design which is most certainly one of the most important aspects of a website, however, it is not something that you should concern yourself with. Design is overall too important, overwhelming, and easy to mess up for any old business owner to have a go at it when their company and livelihood is on the line. Your best bet when it comes to design, is to hire a designer. If all of these steps have been thoroughly covered, then your website will be raring and ready to attract new viewers.