6 Pro Website Tips to Help You Stand Out

March 7, 2024


Chris Misterek

So, you've got a business. And, every business needs a website, right? No problem!

You sign up for your favorite website builder (Showit…obvs) and you're all jazzed up to get started. Then it hits.

Blank Canvas Syndrome. AKA, you have no idea what elements a good website needs to have. What was once excitement has now turned into panic because you don't even know where to begin.

No problem, my friend. You've come to the right place.

We recently did an interview with a web design pro and she had a ton of website tips that will help get you started on the right foot.

It was actually part of a video series we're doing on the inner workings of building a Showit template.

But, first, let's meet our instructor.

Website Tips from Jen of Tonic Site Shop

Jen Olmstead is a website-building superhero from Tonic Site Shop. She's built websites for some pretty awesome folks like Jenna Kutcher, Amy Porterfield and Chris Loves Julia to name a few.

Jen Olmstead from Tonic Site Shop. The pro behind all the website tips here.

She's also made some of the most beloved Showit templates out there including the free website template, Gimlet, that comes included in every Showit subscription.

Jen is one of the most sought-after Showit designers and just plain awesome when it comes to strategy and marketing. She had more than a few gems to share when we recently sat down for a chat.

Without further ado, here are 9 website tips to help your website stand out.

1. Start With a Single Person in Mind

One key to having a website that actually helps you grow your business is to design your site with one person in mind. In other words, you SHOULD NOT try to appeal to everyone.

This might be a tough pill to swallow. After all, if a customer with money in hand showed up at your door, you would never turn them away, right?

The problem is that when you try to be everything for everybody, you end up excluding more people than you include. This is about being the right solution for THE RIGHT PERSON.

One of the main question someone is asking when they choose to purchase a product or a service is, “Does someone like me buy something like this?”

That little gem of wisdom is from our good friend Davey Jones of Sumo.

So, the more generic you are the more it actually hurts you. Rather, you want to think of your IDEAL CLIENT and design for them, specifically.

How do you do that?

  • Look at the products they buy.
  • Look at where they like to shop.
  • Look at the television shows they watch.
  • Look at the books and magazines they like to read.

Use that as your inspiration. Put easter eggs in your copy like a John Wick or Gillmore Girls reference. This gives them little hints that you understand them AND this website was made FOR THEM specifically.

Find a Friend that Looks Like Your Ideal Client

One fun way to put this into action is to try and find a friend that matches your ideal client and send the website to them.

Get their feedback. Ask them what they like about it. Ask them what's confusing.

Use them as a litmus test for how well you hit your target audience. If they really like it and feel like the site was built just for them, you've succeeded!

If not go back to the drawing board, make some changes and try again.

2. Limit Yourself

One of my favorite website tips that Jen gave in our interview was this:

“When anything is possible, everything is possible, and everything is a bad idea.”

Jen Olmstead

It's the same concept that Austin Kleon gave in his book Steal Like an Artist: “Limitation = Freedom.”

Just like it's important to have a list of things YOU WANT to include in your website, it's equally important to have a list of things YOU DON'T WANT to include.

This is another way of helping a potential customer or client know that this website is FOR THEM.

One of the main ways you limit yourself is with a rubric we call a brand or style guide.

Typically, a brand or style guide is an actual document or image that lists out your color palette, your font treatments, your brand voice and other important things that make up how your business is portrayed to the world.

Without something like that you could end up confusing potential customers or clients by sending messages that don't quite work together.

So, do yourself a favor and put some limits on what shows up on your website.

HINT: This might change over time as your business grows or develops. As time goes on you might find out that you really like something more than you thought you would OR you really DON'T like something you've done for a long time.

It's okay to switch things up BUT whatever you do, just make it really clear.

3. Find Ways to Be Different

As consumers, we've become numb to the constant drip of ads and promos. We don't really pay attention to majority of the ads that are shoved in our face. We can't!

It takes far to much energy to just live our lives let alone try and process ALL OF THE INFORMATION we are bombarded with on a daily basis.

So, if you're looking for website tips that are gonna help you stand out, here's a solid one: be different. Design in such a way that it makes people stop their scroll.

How do you do that?

First you have to figure out what other people are doing. In a small way, you have to become a student of what's already out there.

So, go check out your competitors. Ask yourself:

  • What color palettes are they using?
  • Which fonts are really popular?
  • What kinds of images are people using?

Then, figure out a way to add your own spin. The best way to do that is to add your own personality to a website. So, if your favorite color is blue PUT IT IN THERE.

This is not only a gem in terms of website tips, it's also helpful with business strategy. If everyone in your industry has the same type of offer, figure out a way to stand out.

You don't have to be WAY FAR OUT THERE to accomplish this. Slight signals that who you are is different than everyone else will go a long way.

4. Pull Inspiration from Unique Sources

One sure fire way to stand out is to look for inspiration from unique sources.

In other words, if everyone is going to pinterest to look for different things they want to have on their website, you go somewhere else.

Better yet, go outside of your particular industry to find sources.

Jen mentioned how her and her business partner Jeff would go to small book shops and search through the magazine sections.

She even one time created a template based on a french magazine she found in the backseat pouch on an airplane.

In other words, BE CURIOUS, and let that curiousity fuel what the decisions you make for your website.

One of my favorite projects was inspired by an illustrator and graphic designer Cristiana Couceiro. Cristiana has a unique style that blends graphics, illustration and real images that feels collage like.

The work of Cristian Couceiro to illustrate how to limit yourself when creating a website

When I was building the website the one question I asked myself was, “Would this page look like it fit inside of Cristiana's portfolio?”

If it did, it passed. If not, it was back to the drawing board.

So, do yourself a favor and add some limitations to what you allow on your website. It'll give you a clear focus and help you make decisions.

5. Keep an Eye on Trends

Like it or not, when you decide to start a business, you've signed up to keep a finger on the pulse of what's going on in the marketplace.

Now, that doesn't mean you have to know everything about every industry. BUT, it does mean you need to have a decent idea of what's going on in your neck of the woods.

One way that you can do that is spend a little bit of time every day purusing new websites or reading different ads that come across your screen every once in a while.

One resource that I use is something called Muzli. Muzli is a chrome plugin that shows you different pieces of design inspiration every time you open up a new tab.

Muzli chrome plugin in series of website tips to find design inspiration

So, instead of staring at a blank screen with a Google search field, you're met with a curated list of images from other designers and projects.

I gotta be honest. This might be one of my favorite website tips from Jen. I might spend a little too much time browsing through all the articles here.

BUT, it has helped me A TON with staying fresh in the design world AND it can help you too.

But you don't have to stop there. There are other great resources like eCommerce websites or Jen's favorite Panda.

If you're looking for even more, I've made a list of 16 different places that I pull from.

6. Have Fun

Finally, whatever you do, just have fun. As website tips go this is probably my favorite.

It's easy to get really tense about building a website. After all, there's a lot riding on your site.

But, here's the really cool thing about websites: it's pretty easy to change them. Especially with a platform like Showit. 😏

So, even if you make a mistake or try something that doesn't work, you can just come back and try again.

This is actually one of the things I love about web work the most. You can't do that with print design. Once it's printed, it's out there. You've likely printed a lot of the same thing to try and save some money. Until you run out of what you just printed, you're kind of stuck.

Not so on the web. So, take risks. Have fun. Try out different things and see what works.

Look at your website as an experiment that can be iterated on not a statue etched in stone.

Website Tips that Will Help Your Business for Years to Come

No one likes the idea of having to redo a website every 2 years. It takes a lot of work to get a website off the ground.

At Showit, we know that all too well.

But, one way you can be sure that your website will have some “staying power” is to stay in line with these website tips.

Do things like:

  1. Design and build it for a specific person
  2. Use a brand or style guide to limit your options
  3. Find ways to be different and stand out in your market
  4. Find unique sources of inspiration to pull from
  5. Keep an eye on what's current (including graphics, copy and marketing trends)

And of course HAVE FUN while you're doing it. Enjoy yourself and figure out ways to add your own personality and flair into your website.

After all, the world doesn't need another Jenna Kutcher or Amy Porterfield website. They need YOUR WEBSITE with all you have to offer.

And, of course Showit is there to help along every step of the way.

Showit is a drag and drop website platform with a free trial at Showit.com

Chris is multitalented, being able to play a number of instruments, and having an inclination towards creative design, AND technical know-how. He cheerfully brings his Swiss army knife of skills to our designer community.