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10 signs of professional web design (Or why you should drop your amateur web designer)

UPDATED April 30, 2009: Many people have pointed out that the items in this article require a team of individual professionals from specialized fields, and they are exactly right. If a business can afford to pay an agency with teams of specialized professionals then this article doesn't apply to them and they wouldn't have amateur web designers in the first place.

This article applies to small businesses that rely on amateur web designers and should move to freelance web designers/developers who are professionals. Those freelancers have to wear many hats, including the disciplines discussed below.

Uses lots of images but still seems snappy

That's because professionals know how to optimize images for display on the web, including proper cropping, choosing the right file type, using sprites, and balancing quality vs. size.

Easy to read

That's because professionals understand the subtle art of typography, including spacing letters and lines, choosing the right font, and using optimal line lengths.

I found what I was looking for

That's because professionals understand that a site is more than the sum of its pages and provides navigation that matches the user's needs.

Shows up in search engines

That's because professionals strategically place elements on a website that improve search engine placement for relevant keywords.

Lots of links to it

That's because professional web designs attract attention. Ugly designs don't spread past the people who make or own them.

Makes me feel safe sharing my information

That's because professionals understand the psychology of a user who's been asked to share their information and take steps to make users feel safe. A professional design alone goes a long way in making a user feel safe.

I bookmarked it

That's because professionals build sticky content that gives you a reason to return. A simple online brochure works just like an offline one: People look at it for a second and throw it away.

Highly engaging

That's because professionals have the skills to take interactivity to the next level. There's only so much clicking a user can do before they want to do something less boring.

My website was never finished

That's because a $200 website isn't worth finishing and a high schooler has better things to do.

I'm happy with my website

That's because you read this article and hired professionals.