The goal of any design is to effectively communicate a message. Typically this means promoting a brand or selling a product.
- Less is more. Every element added to a design increases cognitive dissonance, meaning that it makes the site's message more difficult for the customer to find. It will take some constraint, but I promise that less is more when communicating a brand message.
- Color Palette Consistency of message is important and that includes colors. If you have a set of official colors, those should be the colors used in your website. Ideally those same colors will be used on every page. A constantly changing color selection implies haphazard organization, while a consistent color scheme looks professional.
- Typography With the huge selection of fonts freely available online, it's tempting to use a different font for every element of your design. Like your color palette, it's important to choose two or three fonts at most and stick with them throughout your marketing materials.
- Photos Photos are fantastic to connect with your customers, but they're also the most obvious indicator of your professionalism. A stock photo from the Web or your Uncle's point and shoot camera will immediately cheapen your brand's integrity. With photos, more than anything else, it's important to use exclusively professional photos to flatter your brand and products.
- Social Media Circus While social media is important, its significance is often overstated. What is important is to be accessible to your customers. Before signing up for that shiny new web2.0 service, ask yourself how it will help your business. Does it make me more accessible to my customers? Do I have to manage it daily? If you can't check a service daily, people who use it to contact you will be frustrated. Choose your social media wisely or hire a social media manager.