The website for your small business plays an essential role in building your brand and in your marketing efforts. Website design should be much more than just an afterthought.
A great website design adds professionalism to your online presence and connects you with customers (and potential customers) around the clock, 365 days a year. Here are 10 common mistakes to avoid with your website design.
1. Not understanding your target demographic. Rather than designing a website then retrofitting it to your target customers, you should first thoroughly research your target demographic and have your website designed based on this research. For example, if you target younger consumers, you want a site that works well on a phone or other mobile device.
2. Too much flash. You don't want to take your website visitors on a one-way tour back to 1997 with an eyesore website full of flash and garish color combinations. Just because you can do certain things with design, doesn't mean you should.
3. A wall of text without photos or videos. Of course your website should be rich in great content, but even the most cerebral website visitors will be put off by a wall of text. Breaking up the design with terrific photos or graphics help your visitors catch their breath occasionally as they take in the content.
4. Being penny wise and pound foolish with website design. Look for a website design firm that caters to businesses of your size, and don't choose based solely on cost. Investing a bit more up front can get you a site that functions properly, looks great, and that visitors love. For businesses with enough IT skills on hand, off-the-shelf website design can work fine, but otherwise, budget-basement website design often looks the part.
5. Stale content. If visitors come back to your site a week after their first visit and all the content is the same, they may not bother coming back. Dynamic content is one of the best things about the web. You don't have to go overboard and have an unrealistic schedule for adding new content, but letting content sit for a week or two is a sure way to discourage repeat visitors.
6. Trying to appeal to everyone, everywhere. If you try to do this, the likely result is that you'll appeal to nobody. Your website can't bring in every demographic group, so you might as well focus on your bread and butter customers and cater to them. This doesn't mean you don't try new things occasionally, or aren't welcoming to others. It just means you're realistic about who your website needs to attract to boost your success.
7. Spelling and grammar problems. If your site is riddled with misspellings. or if the content uses "you're" and "your" interchangeably, the professionalism of your site automatically drops. There are plenty of people besides English teachers who expect proper spelling, grammar, and usage, and it's not that hard to give them what they want.
8. Poor navigation and internal linking. Have you ever visited a website and had to count back-clicks to get back to a menu allowing you to find another page you need? Poor navigation frustrates users and may cause some of them to abandon your site altogether. Work with your website designer to achieve a navigation flow that is intuitive and obvious.
9. No social media sharing or "Contact Us" buttons. You don't want half of each page filled up with social media sharing buttons, but you should still have them, because you never know who might find your site based on a Tweet or a Facebook "Like." Additionally, you should make it easy for visitors to find out how to contact you by email and phone. If you run a physical retail facility or have an office, posting your hours is a huge help and will keep readers from having to call you to find out this information.
10. No call to action. Chances are you have designed your website for the purpose of informing customers and priming them for purchasing products or services. After you've done all that, why would you not place a call to action on your page? In many cases, a simple "Click here to order" link is all it takes.
Even if you don't sell products or services on the internet, web design needs to be part of your business plan. If your website design is done poorly or as an afterthought, your professional reputation could suffer. However, when website design is done well, it can build your brand, generate buzz, and significantly raise your profile in the marketplace.
Photo Credit: Guttorm Flatabø