• X Factor

How Professional is Your Site Design?

Research shows that nonverbal communication accounts for the bulk of what we communicate with others. Who would go to an interview with gym shorts or mismatched clothing?

Something similar applies to the overall effectiveness of a business web site. What level of professionalism does it portray? Is the message helped or impeded by the look and feel of the site? While clear and convincing content is important to a site, several other nonverbal aspects also play a crucial role.

Color Combinations

Color combinations are key. Colors communicate messages, just as do other elements in the design. Using appropriate color combinations shows that you've put a lot of thought in to the brand of your organization. Poor choices of colors can imply that your organization is unwilling to invest in creating a professional brand, which may drive potential clients away.

Below are some combinations to avoid:

Instead, try only using one primary color that is consistent with your company colors in combination with white.


Contrast is another key consideration because it has such an impact on readability. If the background of your text doesn’t provide sufficient contrast with it, then it will be hard to read. That might sound obvious, but it is stunning how frequently this mistake is made.

Contrast is particularly important when incorporating photos into your site’s design. Having a photo banner at the top of a page with text overlayed is a common feature of many websites. However, inexperienced designers fail to account for how the text will contrast with the photo behind it, resulting in some very difficult reads. If a photo you want at the top of your page doesn’t contrast well with your text’s color, try bringing it into an image editor and adding a semi-transparent overlay of white or black to heighten the text’s contrast with the image:

As you can see, the image on the right is much easier to read than the one on the left, all thanks to the addition of a black rectangle at 40% opacity. Expensive image editors like Photoshop aren't necessary for small changes like this. Instead, try using a free, open-source editor like GIMP:


Choice of typeface is also very important. A professional message deserves a serious typeface, regardless of your target demographic or the product you're selling. Some of the fonts to avoid on a business site include:

Script: Perfect for a wedding invitation, but not for a web site.

Comic Sans: This is an obvious one, but unfortunately some businesses still opt to use it when trying to appear “playful.” Rather than make this embarrassing mistake, it may make more sense to spend a bit extra and have a graphic designer create a custom font for your signage and branding.

Papyrus: This font is often used when attempting to make a product appear “exotic.” However, its overuse often creates the opposite effect.

Rather than using these tired default fonts, try using Google fonts. Google fonts provides thousands of free fonts to be used on your website:

In addition to picking a professional looking font, you'll also need to consider the size of the text and whether it will be used for body text or headers and titles. Some typefaces that are perfectly fine for titles are not appropriate for the bulk of your content because they can be difficult to read. Does your target audience include seniors? Then the size of type should account for eyesight differences.


If you’d like the help of a professional designer, please let us know. X Factor will analyze your site, provide useful feedback, and address any flaws that impact the overall professional look of this all-important business tool. Contact us today!