With email marketing, social media strategies and online ads, small business owners tend to forget about the most important virtual platform: their website. I’m very guilty of this; I haven’t paid much attention to my website, but that’s often the first place that people will look at when searching for your business online.
One of the most important aspects of this is your website design—it makes all the difference between a user continuing to browse your site and a user leaving it within a few seconds. To avoid the latter scenario, steer clear of these common website design mistakes…
LACK OF FOCUS
Your website needs a purpose. Presenting information about your business is nice, but it really won’t get you anywhere unless you drive users toward an action. People are usually super busy, so make it easier for them by cutting down the time they spend figuring out what they’re supposed to do.
The first time a visitor lands on your home page, they need to know exactly what is required of them. This is why you have to have a very clear call to action—it should be the first thing they notice. Think about what you want them to do: sign up for you newsletter, download an ebook, buy your product, or simply contact you?
Whatever it is, the relevant button or sign-up/contact form needs to be immediately visible (by its size, color, position) and easy to use. Don’t have more than 3 call to action buttons on your page, and if you have more than one, make sure they’re not competing for attention and that they go well together.
Related to a lack of focus, another common mistake is distracting the viewer by having too much happening on your site. There are still many websites up today that are simply too busy—overworking the visitors’ eyes.
If you have a surplus of must-have content, simply spread it out over several pages; don’t cram everything on your home page. Cut out anything that’s not essential, and highlight / call attention to the most important features.
Users will exit immediately if things become too overwhelming, which gives your site a high bounce rate. This is the reason why minimalist designs are very popular; they’re very clear and simple to navigate.
And speaking of navigation, make sure that visitors know exactly where to go on your site. The last thing you want to do is frustrate the user with disorganized pages. Make sure all your media and information—blog posts, videos, contact details and so forth—are easily accessible.
Especially for small businesses, don’t have a lot of pages, each with very little content. Group related things together and make use of icons, sections, drop-down menus, etc. Ensure that the main page is accessible at all times.
OVERALL BAD DESIGN
The result of all the above mistakes is a generally poor design. There are many examples of this on the Internet, particularly websites that are stuck in the ’90s. Here are their characteristics, some of which are highlighted by 99designs:
- Not enough balance of text & visuals
- Too many different and illegible fonts are used
- Use of clip art and other unprofessional images
- The design is too flashy (literally—think animated GIFs!)
- Distracting background, such as clashing colors, contrast and cheesy patterns
Are you guilty of any these website design crimes?