More Website Design Mistakes to Avoid

More Website Design Mistakes to Avoid

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As you may well imagine, we spend a good deal of time online, and visit a great number of websites on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it cannot always be said that we visit a great number of great websites. In fact, some are outright cringeworthy. We’re not being judgy, but as we are in the web development and digital marketing business, we know the very real damage that bad website design can do – especially to a small business, which depends even more upon making a positive first impression. And especially in these challenging times.

Your business doesn’t deserve to suffer, but you may be working against your own success if your website repels instead of attracts potential customers. Or worse yet, is so outdated that visitors assume you’re out of business!

Our blog post – “Website Design Mistakes to Avoid” – covers behind-the-scenes mistakes that hurt SEO and thereby keep your website’s search engine page rankings low (which prevents people searching for what you sell from finding your site in the first place). Today, we focus on the mistakes that turn off members of your target market once they arrive at your website.  

You Don’t Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression

You may not think your website is all that important if your business is brick-and-mortar and you don’t conduct any type of e-commerce. Even so, consumers today equate an attractive up-to-date website with a successful business that keeps up with the times. Your enterprise may have been in business for years and enjoys a good reputation, but potential new customers will be less-than-impressed if your site is poorly designed and visually stuck in the past.

Alan Smith of SPINX Digital created a spoof website that incorporates every bad, archaic web design element on one page. If your site incorporates any one of these elements, an immediate redesign is in order. We don’t need to look at your books to know you’re losing business.

While not every real-world mistake is as extreme, their ultimate effect is just as damaging. Here are some of the most common offences.

Blurry, poor-quality images – Members of your target audience may not be graphic designers, but they can recognize low-resolution logos and other images that have a blurry appearance. Writing for Visme, data expert Nayomi Chibana provides the following observations and advice:

“Non-designers often make the mistake of using raster images instead of vectors. While the former is made up of pixels and become blurry when enlarged, the latter is made up of geometric lines and curves, so they can be scaled to any size and still appear crisp. If you are worried about your design getting pixelated, a good rule of thumb is to make your design bigger than it needs to be. If you start at a high resolution and scale down, the images will still be crisp. You can always reduce resolution, but you can never increase it.”

Starting with a vector image is recommended for the best, most professional result, however. Our blog post – “A Logo Speaks 1,000 Words About Your Company” – covers this low-res pitfall in further detail.

Closely related is using clip art, which is guaranteed to look exactly like what it is – and will also be guaranteed to give your company a cheap, rock-bottom image. If your logo looks like you didn’t care, will potential customers think your business emphasizes quality in its products and service?

Let’s not overlook stock photography. Well-chosen stock photographs can give a small business’s website a big look, but clichéd photos have the opposite effect. As our blog post –“Get a Sharper Image for Your Brand Through Sharper Images” – covers, cheesy subjects and overused images can actually damage your business’s credibility and trustworthiness. As noted by graphic designer Gareth Hardy of Down With Design, that classic stock photo of an attractive call center representative “… makes the business in question look fake.”

Small, hard-to-read text – Small font sizes make reading difficult – especially when (another common mistake) there’s little white space around text blocks, and/or text blocks are too long. A Blue Corona blog post recommends that body text be above 14px, and all body copy should be in a sans serif font so it’s more compatible and reader-friendly across device types.

It’s also important to keep your target audience in mind. A too-small font makes reading too difficult for people over age 40 – even with glasses. If your product or service is targeted to this demographic, expect high bounce rates as they quickly leave your website for those of your competitors. High bounce rates also have a negative impact on SEO, resulting in low rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Poor visual contrast – Text should be black type against a white background, just as in print. Using gray or another light color for text results in poor contrast, making the copy hard to read. We’ve also seen white text against a black background. Definitely do not do this! When type is hard to read, understand that your visitors won’t make an effort to do so. They’ll just leave – and your loss will be your competitor’s gain!

Why You’re Making a Big Mistake If Your Website Isn’t Mobile Responsive

Responsive design is now the most important feature for any website, allowing your site to be easily viewed and accessed from any mobile device. If your site is just designed for a desktop computer, it will suffer in appearance and functionality on a smartphone – which is how most people now search the web.

This results in the desktop version of your site rendered in miniature on a mobile phone – making it impossible to read or navigate, with tiny, untappable buttons and links that prevent visitors from taking any of the desired actions. Please refer to the previous paragraph’s reference to high bounce rates.

If you do nothing else, you need to redesign your website to be mobile-friendly – preferably, mobile-first, which means the site is designed to be experienced on smartphones and other mobile devices first – and then desktop computers.

Other Serious Website Design Mistakes

Lack of a clear brand identity and why visitors to your site should choose your business – Even a sole proprietorship is a brand. Yet many websites fail to provide a clear description of what the business does or highlight its competitive advantages. Website visitors don’t like to guess. According to Blue Corona, users form an opinion in .05 seconds once your site’s home page loads as to whether they’re going to stick around to learn more.

“Approximately 46 percent of buyers will immediately leave a website if it’s not clear what the company does. At the least, you should have your services/products in clear view as well as confidence-building elements like testimonials, awards, and industry affiliates.”

Trying to fit in too much information at once – On the other hand, TMI is another major no-no. This leads to busy designs that visually overload and confuse visitors. Alan Smith’s spoof website cited earlier is an extreme example, but you get the idea. Visitors to your site need a visual and contextual focus – that is, one main image and one main idea per page or section.

Too little information – Smith points out that the opposite situation often occurs. Some businesses opt for a site that tries for a minimalist look – typically consisting of a single photo and a few lines of content. While it may appear stylish, visitors have no information about what your business does or what it will do for them. You’ve probably noticed this mistake is very similar to the first mistake listed under the subhead.

Unbroken long text blocks – Content is still king. Smith and the other experts cited here provide the following advice:

  • Pay careful attention to the fonts you choose. In addition to being easy to read, they should also convey your brand identity. Chibana points out that fonts communicate a message all on their own. “For example, there are fonts that communicate elegance and formality, while others have more of an approachable and lighthearted look.”
  • Make good use of white space to bring the eye around your website and make large blocks of text less intimidating.
  • Break text up where you can; use visual elements to represent concepts where possible.
  • Blue Corona advises using H1 headings and H2 subheads, as most people skim headlines and emphasized text to decide if they’re interested in a web page. This also makes it easier for search engines to read and decipher what the page is about, which will help it rank higher in the SERPs.

Unclear navigation – Desktop website design should feature the menu bar along the top of the page; mobile sites should use the “hamburger” menu button, which hides page links but reveals them when tapped. Clicking or tapping on your logo should always navigate to the home page. Trying to get creative with the navigation bar will only frustrate visitors.

Hidden or missing contact information – You do want potential customers to call, email or even send you snail mail, right? Or visit your store or restaurant? We’ve seen websites that don’t make finding this important information easy. Be sure your website has a Contact page, and put it on the navigation bar and hamburger menu. Also list your contact information on the footer of each page, so visitors don’t always have to navigate to the Contact page itself.

Concluding Thoughts and Our Blatant Self-Promotion

It’s never been easy to run a small business, but 2020 has tested owners in ways that were unexpected at this time last year. You shouldn’t let a poorly designed, outdated website make your situation even more difficult. If you think you can’t afford a website redesign, call our web development team at Virtual Stacks Systems. This is no job for amateurs. There are many aspects to a fully optimized website that ranks high in the SERPs and is designed to attract leads and convert them into customers – this blog post covered only a small factor.

Contact us to learn more! We’re ready to be your partner in success!

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