With each passing year, building a website gets faster, easier and more accessible for small business owners. It used to be that you needed someone with a deep knowledge of web programming, and probably a complicated program, to assemble a website. Those complicated methods put websites out of reach for many average entrepreneurs who couldn’t afford to hire someone in this capacity. Simple WordPress websites make it easy to get an online business presence. And these website design ideas can be customized with plug-ins to become more sophisticated as a business grows. Discover some of the website designs you should avoid and why WordPress is the leading platform today.
Thankfully, times have changed. Today, you can find services that not only host your website online, but provide you with easy and versatile templates from which to choose. That way, you don’t need to do any of the work of programming the site yourself. Best of all, these services are affordable enough for pretty much all businesses to fit into any size budget. Designing your ideal website is a stronger possibility than ever before because plenty of software gives you complete control over how your website looks. WordPress is the most popular platform because it is easy to use. Plus, a service can update the site over time to accommodate the needs of your growing business and its clients.
Consider the responsibilities
However, with that accessibility comes responsibility. You have the responsibility to craft an aesthetically pleasing and functional website. You must oversee your design while avoiding many of the most common (and deadly) mistakes that many entrepreneurs make when it comes to web design. These 13 common mistakes are easy to make, but also easy to avoid if you know what you’re doing.
Why mistakes matter
Why do these mistakes even matter? Why is it important to put effort into designing your website? The answer is because your website is the first thing many customers see when searching for your business. Your website represents your brand and your company. Therefore, neglecting your website can negatively impact your business and maybe even prevent you from expanding and earning as much as you could be. Studies show that 70 to 80 percent of people research a company online before making a purchasing decision. The main way customers engage with your business is by looking at your website. Roughly half of businesses still don’t have a website. That means that a potential customer searching for you online would likely be put off by your lack of an internet presence, and perhaps will turn to another brand that provides more information. Even if you have a website, if it is poorly designed or confusing to navigate, customers may decide against doing business with you. Instead, customers may flock to one of your competitors’ sites because they are easier to use and more aesthetically pleasing.
With that being said, it’s easy to design a website that appeals to potential customers as long as you avoid some prominent mistakes.
1. Leaving out the links
As you write copy and create content for your site, you should include links back to your homepage. These links should be easy to access at all times. If users ever get so deep into your site that they can’t find their way back to the main page, they get frustrated and just leave. That’s not what you want because customers may not return.
2. Not updating your content
Designing a website, contrary to popular belief, is not a one-time deal. Constantly update your website, and not just the aesthetics and the layout, but also the text. Anytime something changes in your business, make updates on the website. This is especially true for any crucial information like your business’s address, phone number or hours of operation. Also, add any expansions that you go through and highlight other aspects of your website like your involvement in your community and charitable giving. Along with the content, you should also update the design itself to fit changes and trends in the design industry. That helps make your website more aesthetically appealing for customers. A good rule of thumb is to completely redesign your website every two years to keep up with current trends.
3. Reusing copy from brochures and other materials
The key to creating great website copy is to make it original. Online content is completely different from writing for a brochure, flyer or other printed document. People go to your website when they look for information, which means that they may not have time to read through enormous paragraphs that explain what services you offer and information about your background. Instead, optimize your content for an online audience. Use bullet points, spread information out into paragraphs and write in a concise, clean style that also shows some personality. Don’t limit yourself to written content. Videos, sound bites, and photos vary the content of your website and make it more eye-catching.
4. Getting too ambitious with the design
With so many beautiful websites out there — and yes, there are awards for the best website designs — you may get caught up in the fervor and shoot too high. Yes, of course, you want to design a good-looking website, but you also need to realize the realities that your business faces. You probably don’t have the money to create a website like the kind that wins awards, and in most cases, you don’t need to do so. A simple, clean site will suffice, so don’t invest too much energy into trying to replicate elaborate sites. Make your web presence unique.
5. Forgetting about navigation
The fastest way you can chase away customers is by burying vital information within your website. If customers can’t find what they need after a few clicks, it’s not accessible enough. What’s to stop someone who encounters this resistance from just giving up and going somewhere else? All of your pages must be easy to access from the home page, and they should flow cleanly into each other while being easy to reach from other pages through a menu. Don’t make too many pages, period. The more you have, the more complicated navigating through them will be.
6. Using PDFs
These are just annoying to open, as you have to provide a link which then loads a PDF in an alternate tab or window. Avoid them if possible, and if you have to use them, embed the PDF in your site, so customers don’t have to open up a new tab if they want to see the document. You should only use PDFs for abnormally huge files that may not look right in ordinary HTML coding.
7. Trying to monetize your site through advertisements
Google AdSense allows you to make money through advertising on almost any site. Just because this option is available that doesn’t mean you should use it. Advertisements are not necessary. This is especially true if your site doesn’t have as much traffic as, say, a news organization with a large readership. Lots of ads only serve to annoy your customers who are there for your actual business.
8. Neglecting mobile platforms
These days, more and more people access the internet through mobile devices. So, it is imperative that you optimize your site for mobile viewing. This just means that the dimensions and sizes change when the site opens on a phone or tablet. That makes your website easier to read, and customers don’t have to zoom in to try to see what’s written on the site.
9. Not asking for feedback
Customers probably aren’t shy about giving you a piece of their mind, so there’s no reason to avoid just asking them what they think. Send out surveys asking customers for their thoughts on your website, and build your organization and content around what they want to see.
10. Not linking social media and contact information
You want visitors to your site to be able to reach you on multiple platforms. This leads to a possible sales as you reach more customers. Use buttons linking to your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts, and mark them clearly on every page. Off to the side, make your phone number, email, and address listed clearly as well.
11. Opening new windows
Many sites open up new windows when a customer clicks on a link. That’s annoying to many people because it takes up space on the user’s device and creates unnecessary distractions. Additional windows draw attention away from your actual site. Instead, just set the link to open in the same window.
12. Trying to do too much
Cool fonts, cool graphics, cool colors — all of these are available. Just because you can use them doesn’t mean that you should. As a rule of thumb, keep it simple. Adding extraneous elements just makes your site more confusing to read and navigate, especially if the colors or fonts are clashing and too decorative.
13. Not double-checking your links and media
If you have links and interactive elements such as videos and photos, take the time to double-check that they work. The last thing you want is for a customer to find this out only when trying to access it. At least once a week, go to your website to make sure every element works properly.
Consult with a website design professional to make sure you get it right. A well-crafted website can attract targeted traffic to your business site, generate leads, and help boost conversion rates.
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