Design your site so it looks professional (or is appropriate for your purpose).
We find that people quickly evaluate a site by visual design alone. When designing your site, pay attention to layout, typography, images, consistency issues, and more. Of course, not all sites gain credibility by looking like IBM.com. The visual design should match the site’s purpose.
I’ve written about this extensively in the EMP Book. For many industries, it’s OK to have a mom and pop feel to your website, but in no case should you have a website that looks circa 1992. If your site has not undergone a major re-design in the past few years, it’s probably time.
As the look of the average website has improved significantly over the past few years, web users are expecting more from site’s they do business with. If your site looks like something that was thrown up on a shoestring budget, you’re not giving your visitors much confidence in how you run your business.
You need to look at your competitor’s websites. If your site cannot match or surpass them in appearance then you need to consider a re-design. It’s tricky though, because much of that is subjective. Usually, though, you can tell when not much effort, or thought, was put into the design of a website.
While a more professional looking site may be in order, don’t go overboard. Different industries require different styles. Again, check out what your competitors are doing and if there is an overall consistency of tone, you might want to try to find a similar tone with your site. In other words, don’t go corporate when your competitors are going artsy. Don’t go mom and pop when your competitors are going high tech. Don’t create an overly busy website when your competitors have opted for simplicity. But also, don’t trust your competitors to always make the best decisions. You know your audience, do what is right for them, but by all means, give them a site worth looking at and doing business with.