I really hate when people say “sexy” when they mean “exciting”. It’s juvenile and speaks to Western culture’s commercialization of intimacy. But you’re not here for that. You want to know how your website can make you stand out among the competition.

Let’s start with how not to be sexy: GoDaddy

They sell products and services similar to hundreds of other web hosting companies. Their stuff is all digital, meaning there is no physical product. What did GoDaddy do to make an impression? Blast the airwaves with hyperbole and shocking misogyny for years. For all their efforts, the general public still wonders what GoDaddy is good for.

So, how do you make a positive impression? What makes a website look attractive to small business customers? It starts with you and ends with them.

How To Make Your Website Stand Out

Tell your personal story- Customers want to know where you came from, especially if you’re new. Make sure your website includes the brief origin story of your company. Display pictures and short bios for the founders and principles. Link to their individual LinkedIn page and other social profiles.

If you’re lucky enough to have a long heritage, embrace it.  Show off your cool building with archival photographs on an About Us page. Reminisce a little and show how far you’ve come. For one of our clients, that means emphasizing their family-owned heritage and sharing pictures of their mammoth inventory. But where do you get quality images?

Hire a photographer- Nothing sinks a new site like cheap, cheesy stock photographs. Amateur snapshots also rarely provide the glossy, magazine-style look that cutting-edge web designs are built for. You need to hire a professional photography to take good pictures for your site.

Get several pictures of the product or service to give life to your homepage. Don’t forget to take head shots of your staff! Get a crisp, new picture of your building while you’re at it. Consider commissioning a whole set of product shots if you need them.

Sound like a lot? It is. Pictures are the second biggest bottleneck in web design projects after getting the actual words right. Connect with a photographer well before you start a web design project. Taking this step early means you can budget for their services and have the pics you need when you need them.

Get that Apple feel- We all know this rule and everyone talks about it. Fresh. Modern. Clean. Simple. High-end. The list of adjectives describing Apple goes on. Clients ask for their sites to feel “like Apple” all the time, and for good reason. Apple uses simple, proven design principles to guide their marketing and app designs.

Kathryn Aragon breaks down Apple’s design tips for apps and applies them to web design. Her first guideline explains that function comes first. You get the “Apple feel” by focusing your pages on accomplishing the task at hand. For web design, that means providing useful information and solutions to your customer’s problem. Everything else comes second.

This isn’t about colors or a font choices. It’s about making your website a truly valuable place for customers.

Testify- You know what’s better than your story? The story of all your happy customers. If you don’t already have a collection of quotes and customer stories to share, start gathering those testimonials today and put them on your website. Place shorter blurbs in a sidebar or as call-outs in the midst of copy. Develop longer testimonials as long form case studies.

So, does all of that make a website sexy? Probably not. But it should make your website feel true. If your business is helping other businesses solve their problems, let that truth inspire your web design with useful features, great photos and personal stories.