In the midst of launching and growing your business creating a website with intentional design, strategy and function can feel overwhelming. That's why so many entrepreneurs end up making the same mistakes.
Below you will find a list of some of the most common mistakes and how you can fix them.
I'm going to start with my favorite subject - design.
The design of your website is the first impressions your prospective clients will have with your business. Those first few moments tell them a lot about your business. If your website design is filled with inconsistency or mixed messages it can leave your website looking cluttered and amateur.
Inconsistent design is one of the most common website design mistakes. Heck, it's the most common design mistake, because it is such an easy mistake to make.
Creating consistency is hard.
A few of the most common mistakes your website might be making are: too many fonts, colors or mismatched photography.
My number one tip is picking a design direction and sticking with it. Flip flopping on your design aesthetic is the easiest way to create inconsistency.
Secondly, create a brand or inspiration board. This will give you the flexibility to use your creativity without straying away from the "rules" of your brand.
Lastly, if you're really struggling, hire a professional. A designer will be able to create consistency that doesn't leave your website feeling bland or boring. They can understand your goals, and find creative ways to implement them that won't leave your website walking in seven new directions.
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This subject bleeds a little into strategy. Sending mixed messages in your design usually means you're confused about your strategy and goals. This is especially common among new business's.
It's hard to send a clear message when you're not sure what your business is yet.
Here's a few ways your designs might be sending competing signals: contrasting fonts (in the bad way), a misunderstanding of color theory or speaking to multiple audiences at once.
The easiest way to fix this problem is to do your research and create a strategy. What fonts send what message. What does pink actually communicate to your audience? Decide who your target audience is and learn how best to communicate with them.
Once you've done the research it'll be simple to correct the mistake.
Strategy is the root of most common design mistakes.
Strategy includes a lot of thought, analysis and tweaking. Whether you didn't fully think through your business plan, create a clear call to action or continually revise it can leave your website feeling unclear and hard to navigate.
Let's look a little deeper into how you can fix each of these issues.
Creating a business plan is a lot of hard work - especially when you're just starting out. In the first three to six months of your business it goes through the most changes. That's why I suggest making a temporary business plan.
A temporary business plan only includes the basics. Depending on what you know about your business, I suggest coming up with your mission statement, target audience and products/services. That's it.
As you learn your business and your goals, your business plan will adapt and grow. That's okay!
But, starting without a business plan is not. How can you design a website that your target audience will love without first identifying who they are?
If you skipped this step, go back and work on your business plan and see how this new information can aid in the design of your website.
You get your prospective client to your website - they fall in love. They click with your tone, aesthetic and products. But, now what? They don't know what to do next.
That's where a call-to-action comes in.
A call to action is when you specifically tell your audience what you want them to do. This might be asking them to leave a comment on your blog post, signing up for your newsletter, etc.
If you're not telling your prospective clients what to do, why would they do it? People are lazy and selfish, they won't go out of their way to do something for you unless you tell them what you want and give them an incentive.
To get started on creating a call-to-action, examine your strategy. What is the goal once someone reaches your website? Do you want them to click a link, read a blog post, purchase your product/service?
In design, revising is a part of the process. Well, it's also necessary in strategizing.
Let's talk about Apple, they have had one of the best marketing campaigns for generations. It's not because they hit the sweet spot and stopped, they are always changing and adapting their strategies to fit their new audience, products and trends.
The strategy behind your website also needs to be revised over time.
Let's say you created your homepage with a stellar graphic, a little information about yourself and a call-to-action. Perfect.
Now, over time you've noticed that no one is actually following through on the call-to-action. Well, it's time to try a new strategy. Create a different call-to-action, provide a better incentive, change the layout, change the photo, change anything you think will better fit your end goal(s).
Play around and test your strategy. If it doesn't improve then revise again. Keep revising until you get it right.
The functionality of your website is crucial to good design. If a page doesn't load, or your client can't navigate your website than it's well past time for an update.
Functionality is more important than any other section because no one can connect with your brand, click through your website or purchase your product if the website doesn't work.
In a world as digital as ours, slow loading pages will cause people to flee.
Check your site speed using Pingdom's Website Speed Test. This nifty tool grades your website and provides you with insights on how you can improve your website.
Simple type your URL into the search bar, select where you would like the test to be from and press start test. It's that easy.
It will come back with information on, load times, response codes, page size, insights and more. It also will give you tips on how you can improve your website speed.
User not so friendly
For your website to leave your audience with a positive memory of your brand, they need to be able to navigate it with ease.
A menu that's too hard to find, broken links, or long incentive forms will cause them to leave your website faster than they would have normally.
This is a little harder to be aware of as it's not always glaringly obvious, so I suggest every few months go through your website and click all the links and navigate through your website as if you've never seen it before.
Bonus points if you ask a friend to do this for you.
What common website design mistakes did I leave out? Let me know in the comments!