10 easy steps to an improved WordPress site
Multiple marketing studies have confirmed that people make snap judgments. It only takes a few seconds for visitors to form an impression about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, and whether they’ll stay or leave.
If you have not optimized your WordPress website to give it an attractive, professional feel that will inspire rather than resist your prospects, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. Lucky for you, this post highlights our top 10 easy tips to make your WordPress site more professional right now.
#1: Find a great and unique WordPress theme
A WordPress site that still uses generic themes is perhaps the most common show of lack of seriousness. Your web visitors will immediately realize that you haven’t put that much thought into the website, and perhaps move away to your ‘serious’ competitors. There’s no reason why you should be using generic themes, especially considered that the WordPress platform is home to thousands of themes (both free and paid).
From inside your WordPress admin dashboard, hover over Appearance, then click Themes. From here, you’ll be able to see what theme’s active, as well as access hundreds of other themes that you can activate in the blink of an eye. There’s an option to ‘Live Preview’, which gives you a pretty good idea how each theme would look like after it’s been activated.
Do your homework and use the many filtering options available on this screen to find a theme that’s ideal for your niche and website needs. If you’re willing to put a little bit of money into it, feel free to buy a premium theme (which often have more customization options). There are many online marketplaces from where you can choose and buy an excellent WordPress template.
Keep in mind that the idea of changing the theme is so as to have a template that makes sense based on your niche and needs of your customers. If you’re a photographer, it goes without saying that you should settle on a theme that has portfolio functionality. Think about what your audience expects from an authoritative business in your industry, and then find a custom theme that gives this impression.
#2: Rearrange your WordPress widgets
You can’t expect your visitors to have faith in your website if you still haven’t gotten rid of the ‘meta’ widget on the sidebar! These placeholder widgets make your site look somewhat lazy or incomplete. You need to brighten up your widget area by customizing it.
Simply navigate to your Appearance>Widgets screen from within your site’s admin dashboard. Depending on the theme you’re currently using, you should have various options to choose from.
Most modern themes have multiple widget areas that you can use to make your site feel more professional. Some common widgets that you might want to keep are Search, Recent Posts (if your site is a blog), and a Social Media feed.
You could also add a custom ‘About Me’ section using a text widget. There’s no limit to what custom widgets you can include in your site to make it more appealing.
#3: Use sharp and appealing images
Website visitors are increasingly visual, and how you use images can make or break the appearance of your site. Using poor, unattractive images reflects poorly on your brand. Buy some high quality stock images or consider having a graphic designer create some nice images that will attract the attention of your audience. You only need to spend a couple of bucks on this, and there are hundreds of freelancers who are willing to do the graphic design heavy lifting for you on Fiverr.com.
But what if I don’t have the money to hire a graphic designer or to buy stock images?
No worries, you still have got options. You can get free, good-quality images on Unsplash, Flickr Creative Commons, Stock.xchng, or Wikimedia Commons. The bottom line is that you should only use top-quality, attractive images on your WordPress site.
#4: Use readable fonts
Nothing fancy here. Go for professional fonts that are highly legible. If you want folks to read your content – make it easy for them. Some examples of good fonts include Helvetica, Arial, and Georgia. They are widely recognized as legible fonts and are used in millions of pretty websites.
But how do you recognized whether your current font is good enough? Well, if it looks boring, ditch it. If you have seen some great font elsewhere but aren’t sure what it is, use the WhatTheFont tool from myfonts.com to find out.
The good news here is that you don’t even need to have any CSS coding skills to change the font on your WordPress site. Simply find a good WordPress font plugin and install it on your site to get it done within seconds. Some good recommendations include WP Google Fonts, Typekit Fonts for WordPress, and Fontmeister.
#5: Employ color psychology
Color can make or break the appearance of your website. The color scheme you’re using on your website should be planned, intentional, and well-suited for your niche or industry. A Kissmetrics infographic suggests that effective use of color can lead to an 80% increase in brand recognition. The same infographic also claims that up to 85% of online shoppers base their buying decision on color alone.
Follow our ‘safety-first’ color guidelines to make sure that your website comes across as professional and appealing:
A) Consider your brand in your niche – if you’re building a website for an existing brand, you’ll want the colors on the website to match your existing branding colors. Your choice of color should also be influenced by what industry or niche you’re active in, given that different colors have different meanings. Traditionally, businesses in the financial domain (e.g. banks, insurance companies) use blue-themed colors, because they give the impression of trust. Fashion businesses are big on black and white, while organic products outlets will likely use green. If necessary, do a little homework to find what colors work best in your industry. This might include studying your closest competition to see what colors they are using.
B) Don’t use too many colors on your site – this is one of the most wannabe color mistakes that can ruin the appearance of your WordPress site. You should have no more than two different main colors on your site. Follow the color 60/30/10 rule, which stipulates that the main color should be used on 60% of your website, the secondary color on 30% and that the remaining 10% should be the accent color (something that contrasts the two main colors).
C) Think about your target audience – if your audience is mostly women, use colors that they prefer. Three most preferred colors by women are blue, green and purple, while men tend to have a preference for blue, green, red and black.
D) Text-background contrast – there should be a clear contrast between your text and background colors. This avoids eye strain and makes the text easy to read for your audience.
In most cases, changing the color of your site should be easy. The majority of premium WordPress themes either have pre-designed, cohesive color schemes that you can choose from, or allow you to easily customize the colors of individual elements (e.g. menus, buttons, etc.). If these options are not available, consider hiring a CSS freelancer to do the heavy lifting for you.
#6: Get a professional logo
Your logo is not just an icon at the top of your website – it’s the face of your brand. Multinational companies pay millions of dollars to have a logo re-branding done because they understand the value and importance of this design aspect for their brand.
Lucky for you, you don’t need to pay a million dollars to have an excellent, professional logo done for you. Simply go to a freelancing platform such as Fiverr or Logopond and you’ll find a pro designer to do it for you in exchange for about 20 bucks. Just please don’t ask your teenage nephew to design a logo for you, if you value your brand.
#7: Disable comments on pages
There’s no feasible reason why you should have comments on pages (which are different from posts). Unless you intend a page to collect public comments, leaving the comments function enabled communicates that you still haven’t thought out your website design yet.
So navigate to pages from your WordPress admin dashboard, and open each page to check that comments are disabled. It’s as simple as that.
#8: Have a way for people to contact you
Not including your contact information is a common mistake that can make your website seem less professional. Publish a contact form so that your visitors have an easy way to get in touch with you. Even if a visitor doesn’t want to get in touch with you, having your contact information displayed portrays that you’re a real person. The specific contact info you share is up to you, but you might want to include your email address, phone number, and Skype ID. You may also include some social media follow buttons that your visitors can click to contact you on social media. Nowadays, a lot of businesses are doing their customer care on social media. Your prospects find it very easy to contact you via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and other common social apps that they use on a day to day basis.
The location on your site where you publish your contact information also counts. It should be in an easy-to-find area above the fold. If your site has a dedicated contact page (and it should!), include your contact info along with the form. Another great idea is to add your contact info via a text widget on the sidebar.
#9: Avoid clutter
When a site has too much clutter, focus on the meaningful content is minimized, and all impression of professionalism is lost. So go right ahead and get rid of clutter such as excessive advertising, pop-up newsletter forms, unexpected animations, auto-playing media, absurd social media buttons, and any other distracting additions.
It might be necessary to include ads so that you make money from your site, but don’t overdo it. People are not going to come back for more of your content if you slap them with a Google AdSense every time they open a new post or page on your site. If necessary, ads should be placed wisely so that they don’t distract focus from the content.
#10: Keep your WordPress site secure
Perhaps because WordPress is one very popular platform, WordPress sites are often hacked. The last thing you want is to wake up to is a kiddish cartoon animation on your homepage claiming that you’ve been hacked by a naughty little youngster from Montana. If your website gets hacked, you’ll likely scare away a lot of your users, and it might cost a lot of money to clean up the mess. People expect that any professional site should be secure too.
The good news is that you can make these simple efforts to make your WordPress site more secure.
- Choose a strong, not-so-obvious login password.
- Install a security plugin such as Better WP Security.
- Don’t use the default ‘admin’ user. Remove it and create a new one.
- Set up automatic backups for your site. There are several good plugins that you can use to easily accomplish this.
- If you have old installations of WordPress that you’re not using on your hosting account, remove them since they might be vulnerable to hacking.
Take the easy steps above to definitely make your WordPress site feel more professional. In addition, make sure that your site loads fast and there are no speed lags that might repel visitors. Get started right away and make one change at a time. Keep in mind that you should invest in your site for the long term. If there’s any tip that you think we’ve left out and would love to share, do so in the comments section below.
LAST UPDATED ON: January 29, 2017
POSTED UNDER: Tutorials