Whether you decide to design yourself using one of several website builders, or you hire a professional web designer to handle your design needs, the following rules will apply to you.
While a clean, responsive web design can be a great assist for your brand presence, a poor web design can do just the opposite.
Avoid the following common pitfalls:
1. Assume People Want What You’re Selling
If you’ve been in business for a while, you will know what resonates with customers and what does not. As a web designer, it’s not uncommon for new website clients to talk my ear off about their business only to have nothing to say when it comes to their website.
You have to start with the assumption that visitors don’t want what you are selling, and convince them. That’s not to say that they won’t. When you’re driving customers, you will need to go back tothe customer persona. But your website can’t simply be generic and minimalistic if you hope to actually sell.
2. Start Your Web Design Without a Style Guide
We’ve talked extensively about the need to develop a style guide. This is particularly important during the design of your website. Without one, you could be building a site that doesn’t match the feel of your brand.
While not a killer, you could be missing an opportunity to making a website that syncs nicely with your brand and sticks in your customer’s memory.
Think of the last time you visited a Best Buy. Note how the store represents the brand perfectly. The signage, staff and displays are all branded to make it feel distinct from an Office Depot, for example.
That’s what your website should accomplish for you. So be sure to do your homework before jumping into the code (or website builder). We promise it will pay off.
3. Use Images Instead of Text
This may be obvious to some, but it’s critical to mention anyway. Using images that look like text leads to a poor user experience on mobile (the text won’t resize to the screen), and it’s terrible for SEO, as it is not readable by search engines.
Instead, have a web designer rebuild your pages in HTML/CSS to ensure that they will be legible on any screen.
4. Create a One-Pager
A trend from a few years ago, long, scrolling one-pager websites are still in use for landing pages. But if you’re building a website for your brand or business, it’s better that you let your website breathe.
Not only will having additional pages benefit your search ranking, it gives you more real estate to work with without having to worry about cutting content to fit a minimalistic design.
5. Crowd Your Pages
Extremes in both directions are mistakes. Here’s another one that should be avoided.
While it is true that customers who don’t see the information they want within seconds will leave the website, that doesn’t mean that you should cram all of your information at the top of the page. Use the carrot and the stick method, giving the general message and encourage them to read on for more.
6. Hide Your “Reasons to Believe”
Your website is no place to be shy. You need to give your potential leads and customers every reason to stick around long enough to take action, and you don’t do that by hiding the very important brand statements that give them a reason to believe you know what you’re talking about.
This includes keeping your awards, accolades, press and testimonials hidden away on other pages.
In no particular order, you should look to include:
- Awards and certifications
- Celebrity reviews
- 3rd party reviews
- Video testimonials
- Text testimonials
Instead, add a section to your homepage that gives an explanation of your expertise. At the very least, you should be able to provide a few testimonials.
7. Rely on Footer Forms
While footers are great for general company information and sitemaps, a form in the footer isn’t the best way to get email subscriptions. Many people who consume your content won’t think to go to the footer, and a subscription there seems like somewhat of an afterthought.
Instead of placing your subscription form in the footer, consider adding a call to action in a banner halfway down your page that encourages email signups. Add a lead magnet to your page for even better results.
8. What’s a Lead Magnet?
If you’ve ever reluctantly given your email address to get information or a report on a website, you’ve interacted with a lead magnet. Most customers won’t subscribe to your content unless you are providing valuable information or entertainment value on an ongoing basis.
A lead magnet is an offer to exchange value in exchange for an email address. It should be prominently displayed, and depending on the offer, your page should enough information that the customer becomes intrigued right at the moment that the magnet appears.
A simple “subscribe” form can work in these cases, but if not, think about putting your articles together in an eBook and using them as a lead magnet.
9. Use a Generic Call to Action
The Call to Action (CTA) is something that should trigger the user to do something to solve the problem you have set up for them. If you have done it correctly, it should be an action that resonates and makes sense in relation to the information you have provided so far.
10. Overuse Stock Photos
Don’t overly rely on stock images for your pages. I generally recommend using stock images to fill in gaps in the content, when you don’t have brand images. But if you’ve been following for some time, you will know that we don’t recommend building a website without brand images.
Avoicing these pitfalls won’t guarantee you’re website will be a hit, but will give you a better chance for success.
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