If you own a business, your website should embody your brand. Think about companies with stores you never visit in person (or which don't have physical locations at all). What you know about their brands is mostly communicated visually through their websites.
Put another way, you can think of website design like interior design: it leaves an indelible impression on customers — and paying attention to it can pay big dividends for your business.
If you already have an established brand, you've got a great building block. You can think of your website as a more elaborate continuation of your company's logo and letterhead. In fact, having that kind of synergy between the two says nothing but great things about your endeavors. You pay attention to detail. You care about doing things consistently. If you're starting from less, brand-wise, paying attention to your website's design is even more crucial; you don't have other elements to back you up if your website fails to impress.
Not sure how to begin? Start by checking out the sites of your favorite brands. Does their design seem consistent with the brands' other marketing efforts? How do the color palettes make you feel? Do the sites inspire you, or leave you flat?
When you delve into all the aspect of how to brand a website, here are 3 things to consider:
Choosing the right palette for your website can easily harmonize it with your brand. Creative companies might elect for something bright, vibrant, expressive, and experimental: teal, sunburst orange, and a deep gold. For a strategic consultancy firm, the same color scheme isn't quite right. Navy, steel grey, and white would be better suited.
Think about the feelings colors evoke for you, and match them with how you want your business's clients to feel.
The way type on your website looks impacts readers subtly, but because text is everywhere on your site, it adds up to a substantial impression.
Bold, linear fonts imply strength and solidity — appropriate for engineers and manufacturing. Take the boldness up another notch or two and you get into the chunky, blocky territory that you find among construction equipment companies. Neither of these would be ideal for a shop selling handmade glass bead bracelets.
Of course, with text, you also have to make considerations for function. A font that's totally illegible isn't going to serve your website very well because no one can even read what you're trying to say. So, moderation and taste in all things.
3. Layouts and more
Consider the amount of "white space" in your design, i.e. the space between elements. A lot of white space can imply austerity or simplicity, while having very little of it can make your website look frenetic. In the case of a wakeboarding company, the former might look weird, while the latter might be exactly what they're going for.
Other elements, like background colors, gradients, and the "texture" of your overall design can speak volumes, too.
It's all subtle, but if you care about your business (and you should), design is worth your attention. Making sure your website gives visitors a great impression is important; giving the right impression is even better.