The biggest website design mistake actually happens BEFORE there’s even a website! Successful brands think strategically about everything they do online…
Website Design Mistake #1: Lack Of Strategic Planning
A good website doesn’t start with design; it starts with planning. Before you jump into the development process, you need to do some BIG PICTURE thinking:
- Who are your ideal clients?
- What are you trying to accomplish with your website? How does it fit into your business growth plans?
- How will you drive traffic to your website? (e.g. social media, search engine optimization, paid advertising)
- What ongoing needs are related to the website? (e.g. security, updates, promotions)
- What tools and skillsets are required to meet those needs?
- Can you handle everything in-house? Or will you need to out-source?
- How much can you afford to spend on the website? (And that needs to include the monthly costs of keeping it alive and thriving)
Taking time to think strategically and map things out properly is important. That said, if the boat has already sailed – and you have a website up and running already – don’t panic.
Some of the most common website design mistakes are errors of omission. Lots of things can be improved upon by simply adding new elements to your existing website. Or by making a few productive “tweaks”.
Website Design Mistake #2: Obsessing About “Prettiness”
Everyone wants a beautiful website. After all, it represents your brand and we all like to feel pretty! But once you start obsessing about “looks” it’s easy to lose sight of what your website is actually intended to DO.
Plus…pages that are built to appease your vanity often do so by adding slow-loading bells and whistles that ultimately mess up search engine optimization and lead visitors to click AWAY.
The purpose of a website is to attract visitors, capture their attention, and convert them into customers. On a truly great website page, every word, photo, video, link, etc. is designed with that purpose in mind. NEVER sacrifice function for aesthetics.
Website Design Mistake #3: Lack of CTAs
Your goal is to convert visitors into customers. To accomplish this, you must inspire them to DO something.
That’s where call-to-action buttons come in. A call-to-action (CTA) is a compelling prompt that’s attached to a link or button.
The best CTAs are clear and simple. They work because they tell people exactly what to do. You don’t need to get overly creative.
Here are a few clear, effective options:
- Buy Now
- Contact Us
- Get Started
- Add To Cart
The general rule is to stay simple with the words and splashy with the colours! You want your CTAs to jump off the page. FYI: Red is a tried-and-true option.
Placement is also important. At a minimum, you should have a CTA at the top AND bottom of every page. And it can’t hurt to add some in the middle as well. (If you want to go deeper into the subject of CTAs and how to do them right, I recommend reading Neil Patel’s “How to Create the Perfect Call To Action”.)
Website Design Mistake #4: Lack of Social Proof
Of all the website design mistakes I see, this one upsets me the most because the value of social proof is so obvious.
Have you ever booked a hotel based on the online reviews? Or tried a new restaurant because someone told you it was good? That’s the essence of social proof.
We live in a skeptical world. People don’t trust easily. All those magical words you put on your website mean nothing if you can’t back them up with practical, real-life evidence.
Forms of social proof may include things like:
- Case Studies
- Trust Badges (e.g. Better Business Bureau, Security Badges)
- Authority Badges (e.g. logos of publications you have been featured in)
- Credentials (e.g. Certifications, Awards)
- Number of users / downloads / followers
Testimonials are arguably the most effective form of social proof because they are authentic and REAL. Someone bought your product or used your service, and they liked it.
They had a personal experience that was positive and they are sharing their enthusiasm with others.
When it comes to branding and marketing, it doesn’t get better than that! So don’t hide your glowing reviews on a “testimonials” page.
Instead, sprinkle them liberally on EVERY page and position them alongside the claims you are making about your products and services.
Here’s a row of testimonials from the “Digital Strategy” page of my website:
In particular, notice how I pulled text from each testimonial to use as headers. This puts the most compelling copy front-and-centre!
Website Design Mistake #5: No FRESH Content
Fresh content gives search engines ongoing reasons to send traffic your way.
The simplest way to keep things fresh is with a blog. Blog posts (which can also include podcast/video episodes) are great for SEO, especially when they are high quality and keep visitors on your website for longer periods of time. This is important, because search engines pay attention to (and impart value to) retention times.
High-quality, SEO-friendly blog posts help you attract and engage website visitors. Those visitors may share your blog posts with others. And they may be more likely to visit your website again, because you are creating great content!
Perhaps most importantly, blogging is a great way to build authority by sharing your expertise and insights with potential and current customers.
To learn more about how to write effective blog posts, check out Writing SEO Content: 21 Tips To Attract Search Engines And Delight Readers.
Website Design Mistake #6: No Contact Form
If your objective is to have people contact you, the process needs to be as simple and friendly as possible.
Each extra step in the contact process (and each complication) increases the risk that your website visitor will get bored, or frustrated, and LEAVE.
Filling out a contact form is easier and faster than crafting an email message. And, as an extra bonus, the form gathers details that can help you create a focused, effective response.
Your contact form doesn’t need to be onerous or ask a million questions. In fact, the best ones are easy to use and don’t take too long to complete.
And don’t vanquish your contact form to the barren wasteland of your “contact us” page. Instead, pop it onto EVERY page. And, of course, have some CTAs that lead to your form. Take every opportunity to encourage visitors to connect with you!
Website Design Mistake #7: Not Monitoring Website Performance
Your website is an important investment. You put time, effort, and money into it.
So it stands to reason that you should monitor the site to make sure everything is working the way it’s supposed to. Something like a slow-loading page or a broken link can drive visitors away from you – and towards your competitors.
You also want to regularly analyze the performance of specific pages. This helps you identify what’s working. And what isn’t.
In the words of business management expert, Peter Drucker:
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”
There are lots of monitoring and tracking tools available. When it comes to analytics, the most common option is Google Analytics, which gives you lots of valuable information about visitor behaviours and conversion rates.
Ideally, you should include analytics tools in the website design. But it’s never too late! Speak to your website designer. They should be able to help you add what you need.
In today’s world, every company needs a website that’s capable of doing the heavy lifting. It has to be able to attract traffic, hold the attention of visitors, give them exactly what they’re looking for, and inspire them to move forward and become customers.
The good news is that building an effective website doesn’t need to be an onerous, expensive, stressful experience. You just need to think strategically, focus on FUNCTIONALITY, and accept that your website is a living, breathing part of your company. As such, it requires ongoing care and upkeep.
Note: An effective website is a core component of effective digital marketing. To learn more, please download my Digital Marketing Checklist.