How do make your sites look professional?

by mog320
45 replies
I was just curious to see how most people go about building their websites. I have a few sites but I don't feel that they are aesthetically pleasing. Some downright ugly. I think that this keeps me from getting more natural links than a pretty site would. I know that the content is the most important but how do you build your websites?

Specifically, I am wondering the following?

1. Do you use Wordpress, Xsitepro, Dreamweaver, etc.
2. Do you purchase templates, hand code, combination of both or outsource?
3. Do you outsource the site, logo, header, graphics, etc.

Sorry for asking such a broad question, but I was just curious how people make their sites look professional. Thanks.
#make #professional #sites
  • Profile picture of the author Cru
    Originally Posted by mog320 View Post

    I was just curious to see how most people go about building their websites. I have a few sites but I don't feel that they are aesthetically pleasing. Some downright ugly. I think that this keeps me from getting more natural links than a pretty site would. I know that the content is the most important but how do you build your websites?

    Specifically, I am wondering the following?

    1. Do you use Wordpress, Xsitepro, Dreamweaver, etc.
    2. Do you purchase templates, hand code, combination of both or outsource?
    3. Do you outsource the site, logo, header, graphics, etc.

    Sorry for asking such a broad question, but I was just curious how people make their sites look professional. Thanks.
    1) Wordpress all the way
    2) I purchase themes
    3) I lookup photoshop tutorials for whatever effects I am trying to go for.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ian Jackson
    self-hosted (Hostgator/cPanel/Fantastico) WP for web pages, and Dreamweaver 7 for landing/opt-in pages

    hth
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  • Profile picture of the author CBSnooper
    I've started buying themes from Themeforest. They usually cost about $35 but it's a small price to pay for something that looks so good.
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  • Profile picture of the author JennyBizz
    I go with Wordpress. Look for a clean looking theme that is easy to use. You can purchase some great professional ones over at Fiverr.
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  • Profile picture of the author awddude
    Self-Hosted

    Use Wordpress and pay $30-40 for a premium theme is the best way.
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  • Profile picture of the author mog320
    Thanks everyone so far for your replies. I definitely like the ease of use of Wordpress and how I can quickly change the way the entire site looks with the click of a button. Do you use pages with Wordpress to make it look more like a traditional site or just use posts?
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  • Profile picture of the author stevenalowe
    I use WordPress, and bought a developer license for all of the Genesis themes a while back (a great deal BTW). I also use Premise for landing pages (extremely easy to knock something out; unlimited license for multiple sites).

    Some sites are nothing but landing pages. One is just a blog. One is a blog and a few pages and a few landing pages - it depends on the purpose of the site.

    I used to pay a graphic artist to do custom HTML sites, but the WordPress themes have gotten so good that there's little advantage in that for me now.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
    Banned
    Originally Posted by mog320 View Post

    How do make your sites look professional?
    I don't want my sites to look too professional. Above all, I don't really want them to look like sites that belong to a "just a professional marketer", because that would lose me credibility with my target markets.

    I am a professional marketer, and I don't conceal that (I have affiliate disclosures, and so on) but I do play it down. I want to look like a very knowledgeable enthusiast in my niches, who can inform, educate and entertain my subscribers and readers, so that they'll come to trust me and rely on my recommendations for "buying stuff".

    I avoid Wordpress partly because almost everyone else uses it and partly because it's too difficult for me.

    I use TypePad, among other things.

    Regarding my "money sites", I outsource as little as I possibly can.

    Don't assume that "professional-looking sites" are going to make more money than "amateur-looking sites" - some will, perhaps; many won't, for sure.
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    • Profile picture of the author mog320
      Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

      I want to look like a very knowledgeable enthusiast in my niches, who can inform, educate and entertain my subscribers and readers, so that they'll come to trust me and rely on my recommendations for "buying stuff".
      Okay. Yes that does make a lot of sense, especially when you want to have a personal approach to your niche, coming across as a person rather than a company. Appreciate the advice.
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    • Profile picture of the author jficarro
      Originally Posted by Alexa Smith View Post

      I don't want my sites to look too professional. Above all, I don't really want them to look like sites that belong to a "just a professional marketer", because that would lose me credibility with my target markets.

      I am a professional marketer, and I don't conceal that (I have affiliate disclosures, and so on) but I do play it down. I want to look like a very knowledgeable enthusiast in my niches, who can inform, educate and entertain my subscribers and readers, so that they'll come to trust me and rely on my recommendations for "buying stuff".

      I avoid Wordpress partly because almost everyone else uses it and partly because it's too difficult for me.

      I use TypePad, among other things.

      Regarding my "money sites", I outsource as little as I possibly can.

      Don't assume that "professional-looking sites" are going to make more money than "amateur-looking sites" - some will, perhaps; many won't, for sure.
      Good point. I have found that some of the ugliest sites pull the best (make the most money). Some of it has to do with the reasons you listed and some of it is that there are less distractions on a simple straight forward site.

      Example. You have a site with a really beautiful slider that shoots gorgeous graphics by in front of your readers. It looks great, but visitor is NOT doing what you want (the action). Instead of looking at your sales copy or your ads, he/she is looking at your beautiful (but monetarily worthless) graphics.

      I disagree with the part about WP though. WP rocks! but to each her own.:p

      Content and visual layout trump beauty any day. But it's nice to have everything when possible.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    If you want to get decent looking sites up and running without coding knowledge. Wordpress is the best bet. There are a lot of good looking themes available for Wordpress, both free and commercial, that make it easy to have a nice looking site.
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  • Profile picture of the author ebusinesstutor
    I use Wordpress and have my graphic designer do a nice theme for it. I used to get templates, but didn't like the code bugs in them.
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  • Profile picture of the author HairyPoppins
    Word press with a good theme is the way to go. It's just so much easier and can look really well done if you have a good theme. If you have some generic theme though then in my opinion it can look really generic and thrown together.
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  • Profile picture of the author SuppaDave21
    I use wordpress and it hasn't failed me yet, they key is not to overkill your website with a ton of banner ads, colors everywhere and a horrible layout. If you K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple stupid) your website then it will look fine.
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  • Profile picture of the author ericbryant
    Wordpress FTW -- For The Win. Buy a highly functional theme that lets you make adjustments. If you are branding yourself and want something over-the-top custom and super professional, call an experienced design company like Core Zero (link below).
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  • Profile picture of the author Sue McDonald
    Wordpress is great and very easy to use. I also use Microsoft impressions 4 and I find that relatively easy to use.

    There are other FTPs that are free like Kompozer and Nvu. But if you are not familiar with these WordPress is definitely for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Willie Crawford
    I'm a big WordPress fan, but when I want a really nice looking
    site, I get someone who is good at graphics to create the site
    for me... or at least a customer header.

    After 15 years, I've learned that I suck at graphics, but write
    pretty good copy. So, I focus on what I do best

    Willie
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  • Profile picture of the author CherryPicked
    Wordpress with Thesis. I like being able to code a bit in PHP and adjust some of the CSS. I'm learning those and JavaScript for kicks, but that's because I enjoy code.

    You can make a Wordpress look like a 'normal' website. It's all in how you customize it. One of the biggest tips I have is setting the front page to a 'static' page.

    If you don't know how to do this, it's super easy. You create two pages, most people go with 'Home' and the other is 'News/Updates/Blog/etc...' Then you go to your Wordpress settings - then to Reading - Select 'static page' and set your first page to 'Home' and the other to 'News/Updates/Blog/Whatever...'. This gives the reader a static landing page to land upon.

    However, remember that if you have limited traffic allotment or server space, you don't want to go with Wordpress for a single page site. It's a lot of wasted memory take up not only loading it but storing it for just one page.

    I am well versed in Dreamweaver, but I don't recommend it as it doesn't always implement CSS in an efficient manner and it tends to throw a lot of extra code into your site.

    I don't recommend Photoshop for the beginner either. Go with the far more friendly Photoshop Elements. There is very little that you will miss from the full version. Good starting point. I do a mix of Photoshop and Illustrator personally. My avatar, for example, is done with Illustrator and is vector graphics. In fact, right now my header for my site is also vectored.

    If you want to PM me one of your sites, I can take a look and see if I can help in any way. I'm by no means an expert, I have an associates in graphic design, but knowing how to work the software doesn't make the designer 'good', but if I can help you with a spruced up header or something, maybe I can help!
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    • Profile picture of the author YukonJack
      Worpress and themeforest for themes. Extremely awesome, professional themes for $35, can't beat it.
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  • Profile picture of the author owenlee
    I used wordpress most of the times and there are many plugins which help me save lots of headache...
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  • Profile picture of the author MarkJonesCBDoctor
    Wordpress is great, but like everything it has its pros and cons. Its great to use a combination of both wordpress and HTML.

    I have found that for SEO, you should strictly use HTML. With HTML you can do exactly what you need to do to optimize the page with no restrictions. Can't say the same for wordpress.

    For beginners, wordpress is awesome.

    For experts, well...experts can go to their graphic designer and have them design something amazing looking.. hehe

    Having a site that isnt pretty is alot better than not have a site at all. Forcus on what you can do and not what you can't. Whatever you can do to make it more pleasing to the eye, do it. And whatever you can do to make it pleasing to the search engines....really do it! and do it twice! (you get the point)

    Mark Jones
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  • Profile picture of the author sunnyimrs
    wordpress is the best option to build a professional website.

    It has lot of plugins where any one can make use of.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      Originally Posted by sunnyimrs View Post

      wordpress is the best option to build a professional website.
      This opinion may or may not be a valid and reasonable one (as a non-Wordpress user, myself, I wouldn't know) but either way it misses the point.

      It confuses "professional" with "professional-looking".

      Don't assume that "professional-looking sites" are going to make more money than "amateur-looking sites" - some will, perhaps; many won't, for sure. Marketers often prefer to have what they think looks "professional". Our customers, voting with their opt-ins and wallets, may (and often do) apparently have very different ideas.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve Lim
        Hey, I do all the website design, logo and ebook cover by myself. But sometimes I outsource video intro to fiverr, the cost is quite reasonable and I am very satisfy for the results.

        If you can't really do all the design, maybe you can download free website templete. A lot of good templete can be download now a day.
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert X
    I use Profits Theme,, it has all the goodies you need,, landing pages, opt in pages, home pages, sends out passwords to new sign ups,,, it rocks. Also, there's a guy on here that sells a package of grafix for like 9 bucks

    Robert X
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  • Profile picture of the author Drew Trainor
    I have to agree the profits theme rocks. Well worth the investment and it has a really cool blog too. If you're just looking for some pretty stuff then I suggest elegant themes.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brendan Vraibel
    I usually pay $35 for a premium theme on Themeforest. I'll even use the same ones for different projects if they are unrelated and I think the theme will work for those niches.

    For squeeze pages I usually just use Dreamweaver. They are simple enough that I can create them pretty much from scratch and easily edit them if I want to test something on the page.

    For simplicity, I don't really think that you can beat Wordpress.
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  • Profile picture of the author anthony2
    Originally Posted by mog320 View Post

    I was just curious to see how most people go about building their websites. I have a few sites but I don't feel that they are aesthetically pleasing. Some downright ugly. I think that this keeps me from getting more natural links than a pretty site would. I know that the content is the most important but how do you build your websites?

    Specifically, I am wondering the following?

    1. Do you use Wordpress, Xsitepro, Dreamweaver, etc.
    2. Do you purchase templates, hand code, combination of both or outsource?
    3. Do you outsource the site, logo, header, graphics, etc.

    Sorry for asking such a broad question, but I was just curious how people make their sites look professional. Thanks.

    To create my websites i use tools like Optmize Press.

    You can create websites quickly and easily with the tool.
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    "I Leveled The Playing Field And Removed Every Roadblock
    To Helping You Make Maximum Profits In Minimum Time"
    Click Here Now To Find Out How!
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  • Profile picture of the author Ed Micah
    Originally Posted by mog320 View Post

    I was just curious to see how most people go about building their websites. I have a few sites but I don't feel that they are aesthetically pleasing. Some downright ugly. I think that this keeps me from getting more natural links than a pretty site would. I know that the content is the most important but how do you build your websites?

    Specifically, I am wondering the following?

    1. Do you use Wordpress, Xsitepro, Dreamweaver, etc.
    2. Do you purchase templates, hand code, combination of both or outsource?
    3. Do you outsource the site, logo, header, graphics, etc.

    Sorry for asking such a broad question, but I was just curious how people make their sites look professional. Thanks.
    Personally, I use wordpress + mini sites the most! Only bought templates afew times to edit myself, so I guess that's combination with hand code. And I reckon it's not needed to outsource - you can always ask here, or google your questions!!
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Wilson
    Investing into premium theme is really important. I can't even deal with free themes anymore. $35 for a theme at themeforest is a great motivation booster also.

    WP + premium themes.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Coxill
    Wordpress is easy to use and effective, most of the premium themes offer a great professional look, it's worth taking a look at as many as you can to see which fits your site ideas to most. There are many nice free themes on WP too, it's all down to personal preference really.

    Then as far as logos and grahpics are concerned, you can hire an experienced graphic designer to create your own brand.
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  • Profile picture of the author rooze
    I had a cutesy store selling bumble bee products and always hated the styling of it. It had evolved through FrontPage then Dreamweaver and was a bear to try and update. So I transferred the whole darn thing over to Joomla and kept the same styling initially. After a few months I bought a rather expensive Joomla theme, loved the way it looked....all shiny and professional. My conversions dropped nearly 40% overnight. It seems people previously thought they were buying from a mom and pop store and didn't like to think they were supporting a 'corporation' when the storefront became all fancy looking.

    I'd considered the possibility of that happening ahead of time but I was surprised at the percentage of drop-off.

    So keep your styling choices as a reflection of the image you NEED to connect with your target market.

    Joomla and Wordpress are both equally versatile for me, I use Joomla when it's more of a website and less of a blog and requires more eCommerce functionality. I've been working a lot with WPMU lately and I love it.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    I develop my own sites.

    Ive got better things to do with my time than patch Wordpress security holes and vulnerabilities.
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  • Profile picture of the author Newbieee
    Originally Posted by mog320 View Post

    I was just curious to see how most people go about building their websites. I have a few sites but I don't feel that they are aesthetically pleasing. Some downright ugly. I think that this keeps me from getting more natural links than a pretty site would. I know that the content is the most important but how do you build your websites?
    i outsource everything..

    but if u want to have a few examples of professional sites then go look around the web for some inspiration or look at government or authority sites.

    now government sites are getting more and more aesthetically pleasing. =)

    no more just wordy sites.
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    Pain is a perception, so is defeat & happiness!
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  • Profile picture of the author Diviner
    Hi,

    1. I’m using WordPress and I like it, because I also use Divine Elemente (PSD to WordPress software) which helps me to convert my PSD templates into a ready and working WordPress website.
    2. Usually, I don’t need to code (thanks to plugin I mentioned above), but sometimes I do that because I really don’t want to lose my coding skills.
    And I create templates myself, so I don’t need to buy them.
    3. I create logos and graphics myself, but I also use the illustrations of creative illustrators.
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    • Profile picture of the author jficarro
      Originally Posted by Diviner View Post

      Hi,

      1. I'm using WordPress and I like it, because I also use Divine Elemente (PSD to WordPress software) which helps me to convert my PSD templates into a ready and working WordPress website.
      I will give Divine another go. When it first came out, i had the "beta" version and it was really really buggy.

      In general, there are so many great and flexible (not the brand) themes out there, you can spend some time tweaking and changing them to the point that they are truly you very own creation.

      That's the fun part for people like me (although NOT THE MOST PROFITABLE USE OF TIME )

      So, unless you just have a client that wants a non WP site turned into a WP site and insists that it looks identical, I think the most intelligent business decision is to fork over the $35-$75 bucks and just get a great theme you like. Tweak it to your liking (if necessary), then live with it for a while.
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  • Profile picture of the author spearce000
    Originally Posted by mog320 View Post


    Specifically, I am wondering the following?

    1. Do you use Wordpress, Xsitepro, Dreamweaver, etc.
    If it's just a simple HTML site I'll build it myself using Nvu, if it's anything more complicated I'll use Joomla.

    2. Do you purchase templates, hand code, combination of both or outsource?
    I have purchased templates in the past, but now I modify free Joomla templates - just do a search in Google, you'll find a TON!
    3. Do you outsource the site, logo, header, graphics, etc.
    No, I do it all myself using Photoshop and other tools.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mattds
      I create and code everything from scratch which isn't surprising as im a web designer, but still use Wordpress for customers who want an easy to use CMS.

      Recently started to use Joomla aswell but both this and wordpress arent my first choice when building a website for customers who want a custom website.

      Depends what you intend to use your website for.
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  • Profile picture of the author jficarro
    Shoot, I forgot to mention this. I used to use Artister to create unique sites for clients. It's an inexpensive and easy to use program and gives a good basic structure for the site. You can make it look like ANYTHING you want easily. You can also use it for html sites (yuck) or simple squeeze pages.

    However. I don't use it anymore because what is WAY more important than the initial look of the site is the FUNCTIONALITY of the site. And that's where us geeks really come in handy.

    I want my site to be able to adjust columns on individual pages, not show comments when and where I decide, add logos on the fly without ftp, and some other top secret stuff (LOL) that makes my sites do WHATEVER I want.

    These are the things that make the newer designs really shine. The back end stuff that helps the site look professional (for instance, I have one theme that shows comments on the contact page - YUCK!). These things are usually included in the theme functions php file and really make a theme rock.
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  • Profile picture of the author diaoling
    Banned
    I use Wordpress and have my graphic designer do a nice theme for it.
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  • Profile picture of the author mog320
    Thank you everyone for your replies. I see everyone has their own ways of doing things and they all work. Wordpress with a premium theme is the route I will likely take with my sites. I like Wordpress because I can quickly and easily change the look of the entire site by installing a different theme. I just will need to get someone to create my logos/headers etc. I appreciate the help.
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  • Profile picture of the author JerrickYeoh
    Some people do too focus on make the site look professional and cause the site overload with content , flash and complicated design .
    This make the site not seo friendly, not easy to navigate , site load slow.

    So sometime people just go with normal one and get ranking and full of traffic rather than putting too much effort and not user friendly and bad in SERP ranking.

    most of the time i will using wordpress and buying template . While it save lot of my time and the template is just fine for me .
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  • Profile picture of the author mocniyoda
    Originally Posted by mog320 View Post

    I was just curious to see how most people go about building their websites. I have a few sites but I don't feel that they are aesthetically pleasing. Some downright ugly. I think that this keeps me from getting more natural links than a pretty site would. I know that the content is the most important but how do you build your websites?

    Specifically, I am wondering the following?

    1. Do you use Wordpress, Xsitepro, Dreamweaver, etc.
    2. Do you purchase templates, hand code, combination of both or outsource?
    3. Do you outsource the site, logo, header, graphics, etc.

    Sorry for asking such a broad question, but I was just curious how people make their sites look professional. Thanks.
    1. Wordpress - free, easy to use, lots of free awesome templates on the web
    2. Free modified templates.
    3. Yap
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