A website can be considered the lifeline of a small business, and when a website doesn't deliver, the business can easily fail. It is important to include key elements in a website, while other features can fall to wayside in order to bring traffic to the site, keep visitors on the site and encourage visitors to share the site with others. Many small businesses experience web design blunders when they try to design a site quickly and without any input. In determining if a website will perform well, make sure to avoid these five common web design mistakes.
1. Focusing on the business.
When it comes to creating and designing a website, your business isn't the most important feature. Clients and consumers should be the top priority in the creation of a site because they are the ones who will use your site frequently. Take a step back and do some research before you begin designing to make sure you know who your target audience is and what features they want from a website. Many web design mistakes small businesses make start right at the beginning of the process, leading the business down the wrong path with each decision. A small business website should inform consumers and clients of available products and services in a way that appeals to the client/consumer. Are they there to place an order, research a topic, contact the company, reserve services, or gain information? Your website should pander to your target audience, so you should keep those visitors in mind when creating and designing the site. Look at your site from their perspectives and you'll land on a design that is more successful.
2. Too much information and not enough design.
Professional artists and designers will tell you that a design should use white space rather than abolish it. If your text has no room to “breathe”, or if you stand back from the screen and you can't see clear columns or rows separated by white space, then you need to rethink your design. A website should draw visitors into the content, so use the placement of images, text and links to focus the reader's attention while providing the information the reader desires. And, of course, by the time you have a website designed, you should have done your homework and already know what your target audience is looking for in a website.
3. Lack of organization.
No one is going to scroll to the bottom of your website, through pages and pages of text, in search of a link. Clients and consumers want to be able to find the information they need quickly, and reading pages of text to find the appropriate link is a waste of their time. Organize your page with clear navigational tools and Call To Action (CTA) buttons so that your information can be found easily. These are links that invite or guide the visitor to a specific action, whether it's placing an order, contacting the business, or learning more about the products or services provided. These links should be easy to read and placed in an easy to find location.
CTAs include action verbs, such as subscribe, join, order, click, download, proceed, or get (as in, Get A Quote). Each CTA should answer the question: What do you want to do? Imagine what the visitor's response would be, and use that response to write your CTA button. For example, if the answer is, “I want to subscribe to the newsletter”, then the link or button should read “Subscribe To Our Newsletter.” Some small businesses use mouse-over effects to bring attention to CTAs, and that's great when its done tastefully. When implementing these effects, avoid web design blunders such as colors that are too bright or images that flash or sparkle.
4. Outdated content.
When was the last time you updated your website? If it hasn't been within the last 30 days, then you need to rethink the way you run your site. While a full redesign every six months isn't necessary, visitors want to be kept up to date on events, promotions, company news, hiring opportunities and much, much more. Link company blogs, newsletters and social media accounts to your website in order to keep the front page content fresh. Update the blog at least weekly, and include event information, promotions and surveys on the company's social media accounts to keep consumers and clients involved and informed. Visitors to the site aren't going to re-read old content ad nauseum, so they'll probably stop visiting the site until an update is made, and if that doesn't come quickly enough, they may just find another site altogether. Small business web design is the perfect platform for frequent updates because they can be based on the business, the consumers and the community, something with which large corporations often can't compete.
5. Poor or incorrect grammar and spelling.
The sight of misspelled words on a website is enough to make a visitor close the page and vow never to return. With all of the grammar and spelling help that is available these days, it simply is not acceptable to spell words incorrectly or misuse words on your website. While it may seem extreme, consumers who know the difference between “your” and “you're” will expect your employee to know the difference as well, or they'll take their money elsewhere. Commonly misused words include to, too and two; accept vs. except; effect and affect; then and than; further vs. farther; fewer vs. less; and loose vs. lose. Although online communication can be a blur of shorthand and acronyms, including these trends on your website is just another one of the many web design mistakes to avoid.
For those that need some literary assistance, try these sites:
Share and Enjoy