Recently, I spoke with a dear friend who showed me her new website and requested honest feedback. Do you like it, she asked, and I cringed. Now, hear me out. My friend is not a professional website designer, on contrary. She built a website for a business she recently started and at a first glance, it looked alright. But if you scratched beyond the surface, there were a few website design mistakes that she needed to fix. Incidentally, these were some of the most common website design mistakes people make.
As website builder platforms are becoming more accessible, anyone can create a website without any prior coding knowledge. But since an average person is not a professional when it comes to designing a website, they might not build a website according to the set standards, or by having the user in mind. Rather, they tend to create a website according to their personal likings and preferences. So, are you ready to weed out the red flags and design an awesome website?
#1: Lack of Responsive Design
The first thing I noticed that my friend’s website is not responsive. Since she’s not a techie, but a wellness instructor, her confusion quickly turned into a ‘please speak in plain English’ request.
Responsive design, or responsive website, is a method one uses when building a website, so regardless of which device you open your website on, content and elements will automatically scale to match the screen size on which you are viewing it. Essentially this means that it will adjust your images to the screen width, and your visitors won’t have to work extra hard to read the content on their mobile devices.
Why is responsive design important?
Well, how about keeping your visitors happy? Especially since many of your visitors will simply exit your website before making a conversion if the design is not responsive. Did you know that in the past 6 months, 79% of smartphone users have purchased an item online at least once? Besides this, we all want to be on Google’s good side, right? Responsive design is an SEO ranking factor, and since Google is user-centric, you should prioritise user experience.
Bonus tip: invest in user experience. Besides being cost-effective (as the good UX design has a positive impact on visitor retention rates), keep in mind that the better the user experience is on your website, the higher the conversion rate. By enhancing user experience your customers will have a more enjoyable experience on your website and will not have hardships when purchasing, registering, finding information or else.
#2: Not Optimising for Search Engines
You’ll often hear me say ‘we write for people, but optimise for Google’. In the world of the Internet, this is the golden rule. My friend wrote a beautiful copy for her website. I loved reading it, but upon doing quick keyword research and evaluating her competitors, it became clear that there was a lot of work to do. Why? Well, it’s great that you have beautifully written content, but if no one can find it (organically) what’s the point?
Begin with: performing an SEO analysis. This would include how your website is performing, how’s your competition performing, what areas you can improve on, what words/phrases should be a part of your core keywords, and so on. Once you analyse your website and gain a thorough understanding of its performance along with the advantages and disadvantages, it is time to create an SEO strategy that will help you get ahead of your competition and attract more traffic to your website.
#3: Unsuitable Typography
For all those who are not designers: Typography is a component that occupies a large portion of most websites, and it’s one of the most important elements of visual communication. Choosing appropriate fonts and knowing how to implement them into your website to convey a certain message, mood or feeling is a crucial part of building your portfolio.
Establishing information hierarchy while maintaining aesthetics and readability is an art form in itself. So while you might not have an in-depth knowledge of typography, it is essential to at least develop some kind of understanding of it, in order to appear more professional and gain the trust of your customers.
What should you aim for? Try finding a clear font to your liking and avoid using unclear, messy fonts. Search platforms like Fontpair for inspiration and direction.
#4: No Call to Action
As I read my friend’s beautiful letter to her website visitors, I have noticed that there was no call to action. This is one of the most common website design mistakes people make. If your website lacks a call to action, how will you direct your visitors towards the conversion goal you’ve set?
What is Call to Action or CTA for short? A call to action is a message that encourages an immediate response or sale. You want your visitors to share their email address, provide feedback, download your eBook, or proceed to checkout? CTA is your best friend because it allows your visitors to do anything you want them to.
CTA messages are short, specific, and clear about the action needed. Creating a strong call to action with clearly defined benefits for the visitor – what will the consumer get out of your offer, is essential.
Whatever your goal is, make sure that your overall content – textual and design, supports the message you are sending.
Heads up: Google will roll out a new algorithm update – Page Experience, in May 2021. One of the things which will become even more important is the call to action messages. So, separate your CTAs, position them properly, and make sure they are bright and correctly shaped.
#5: Too Much Noise
I once read a book that said that you’ll not meet your goal if your customers need to burn too many calories to understand your message. Now, I am wildly paraphrasing, but the point is this: if it takes too much energy for a visitor to get the point of your website, you are doing it wrong. Your content, whether it is an image or text on your homepage or your about page should be written with the customer in mind.
Hard truth? No one cares about how you struggled to start your business unless it is crucial for your customer to make a conversion. And this doesn’t only hold true for business websites. The same goes for personal websites. The goal of a personal website is to show your skills, work experience, your projects and tell the world your story. But not all parts of your story are relevant to your prospective client or employer. Focus on the parts that are essential to them as employers or customers – what aspects of your story differentiate you from the competition.
Creating a clear personal branding or company branding message is crucial for standing out of the crowd. Not only will it help you make more conversions from the visitors who land on your website, but it will help spread the word about you. People remember good stories.
A pro tip? Refrain from writing super short content – people want to know more. But at the same time, your website should not be mistaken for a novel either.
Here’s how to Create Content that Delivers: 5 CRO Writing Tips
Why Should You Avoid These Website Design Mistakes?
Well, the answer is simple: whatever the goal of your website is, you want the visitors to make some kind of conversion. Truth is, your prospective customers don’t want to go through a lot of trouble to get the information they need.
So if your website:
- is not responsive – visitors will bounce before converting.
- is not optimised – visitors will not find you organically.
- has unsuitable typography – you’ll not be perceived as serious, or they’ll have a hard time reading your content. Hence, leave before converting.
- has no call to action – they won’t be nudged to make a conversion.
- has too much noise – they’ll get confused about your message and you won’t meet your conversion rates.
The bottom line? Beware to avoid the website design mistakes we’ve outlined here. Creating a website can seem a daunting job at first, but remember this – it is worth it.