Tip #1: Create an Effective Content Strategy
Make sure every page on your website provides something of value to the audience. The content of your website should be genuine and custom to your business, don't just copy off of your competitors' websites. Focus on what you do, what you solve, and why it is different from other offerings in the market. If your audience can't find value on the website, they will leave. Good content also can help with your visibility with search engines.
Tip #2: Have a Clear Goal
A website isn't just an information medium. Unlike a newspaper, it needs to serve one specific purpose. If it is an e-commerce website, every page is to sell. If you are a service company, the goal of every page is to generate leads via a clear call to action. If you are a restaurant, every page is to invite people to eat at your place, with clear menus, locations, and hours of operation. Websites of larger companies might have a couple of goals. Apple for example, uses its website for product purchase, customer service, and store locating. Think carefully about what you want to do with your website, make sure it brings value to your potential customers.
Tip #3: Website Usability
A website must function well for your audience, not just you. What navigation tabs should be included on the site? Where should we create links? Do you need a search bar to make things easier? These are the questions that you need to ask your audience/clients, not yourself. A service/product introduction under "About" page might make sense to you, but it might take the audience an extra couple of minutes to find. Your website shouldn't have a learning curve, make it intuitive and friendly. Below is a list of website no-no's:
Auto-play Videos/Audio: No! If your client wants to watch a video, he/she will click play. An annoying video will drive people away.
Pop-up Windows: No! Never switch your users' windows for them. If you have something to show them steer them to it within your core site.
Misspelled words: No! People with poor spelling skills may not notice, but the majority is literate and they DO CARE!!!
Shinny Words: No! It is really hard to read light text on light background. Some color combinations just don't work. Additionally, if your background is a picture, then you need to consider a wide mixture of light and dark, and how it would affect the text on it.
Tip#4: User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
Make sure your website actually works! If you have a big budget, you can have a thorough UAT: hire a marketing firm to select people that match your ideal potential client profile as testers, set up a controlled environment, use heat mapping to track their surfing records, and prepare to make changes, a lot of changes sometimes. However if you are a small company, you should still test by sending your site to your family and friends and ask for "honest" opinions!
(If you have concerns about your website contact FiG for a free discovery session)