Building a website can be a great investment for almost any business — and vital for most. Yet nothing is as simple as it seems. Every website project can be put at risk by common mistakes.
Knowing these basic web design project pitfalls helps you avoid them. Still, they’re common because they aren’t always obvious. So I thought I’d list the main ones here.
1. Delayed Decisions
It’s easy to put off big decisions, telling ourselves we need to think them over. However, we then rarely get around to doing so.
We forget 70% of new information within a day. So the secret to success is getting started before that happens. Successful people make decisions when the information is fresh in their minds.
Life tends to derail the best laid plans, too. Others’ demands frequently override our own goals. That often means the only way to really get a project started is to involve someone else. This can be as simple as booking a consultation for the project, or more generally, engaging a business coach.
2. Poor Project Planning
That doesn’t mean making hasty decisions, though. Failing to plan is planning to fail, after all. On the other hand, not all planning is effective planning.
That’s especially true when planning a project outside your own field. In that case, it can be tough to know how to start your research. It can also be hard to know when to stop.
Asking the wrong questions can lead to the wrong solution, too. For instance, it’s easy to focus on visuals, but it takes more than a pretty website to make sales.
Effective web design also considers your audience, goals, competitors and marketing strategies. Without that, a site can look impressive to the untrained eye, yet do a poor job of converting visitors into leads or customers.
Yet many sites are built without much discussion of those points, in the hope that just “having a website” will boost sales. True, having a website is unlikely to harm sales — unless it looks cheap or amateurish. Still, a low conversion rate will mean you’ll need to attract far more site visitors to get results.
So why waste time and money on chasing the wrong solution? It’s far safer and more cost-effective to get expert web design help.
Under-investment undermines success. Those who buy on price alone are the most likely to be disappointed with their website’s performance. Marketing makes money, so assess the profit potential rather than just looking at cost out of context.
For example, would you prefer a 10x return on £300, or on £3000? Which do you think will have put more work into ensuring it achieves such returns? You won’t get higher returns from less effort.
Besides, web design times are measured in weeks. It takes time to discuss your goals and create designs that suit your target market. So cheap web designers rarely stay in business long enough to gain the business experience needed to help you grow.
Don’t get me wrong. With cost-effective marketing, even simple sites can achieve some common business goals — but experience still matters. You’re creating a business-critical online marketing vehicle — and online marketing isn’t the same as offline marketing. So you need a designer with online marketing experience.
In any case, bigger ambitions, sophisticated markets and complex systems need more professional websites. This is especially true for website development projects that require bespoke coding, rather than just visual design. Programming unique behaviours and processes into a website takes a lot more time than visual design, as well as a very different set of skills.
Either way, the less you invest in the site, the more you’ll need to invest in marketing — and you run the risk of not investing enough to succeed.
4. Fire-and-Forget Website Projects
Many sites get launched and then neglected. Yet unless your only goal is “to have a website”, launching a site is just the start. Without marketing, it won’t get many visitors; without visitors, it won’t generate sales or leads for your business.
Successful marketing is built on stats. So make sure Google Analytics (or similar) is installed, and learn how to read and use those stats in your marketing. This is an ongoing task, as market trends and your competition’s tactics will change constantly.
5. Playing to the Wrong Audience
You are not your target market. So a website built to meet your personal preferences isn’t that likely to connect with those who buy from you. Yet that’s how most websites are built.
Likewise, your target market isn’t “everyone”. You can’t please everyone. In fact, the more precisely you can identify your target market, the easier it is to sell to them. It’s easier to connect with one person, or a very small group, than it is to connect with a whole crowd.
Every part of your website should put the needs of your target market first. Answer their questions, in language they will understand. Create content they will find valuable. Figure out what will help them to trust you and take positive action — then do that.
6. Bonus Risk — Becoming A Zombie!
This is a long-term risk, so not as obvious as the others. Still, many small firms end up struggling along as zombies. In the early stages, many aren’t even aware of their problem — and by the time they are, it’s hard to cure. So you can learn more about zombie businesses here.
Those are the top five website project risks that I’ve seen over 20+ years of building websites. There’s a lot more to getting a website right, of course, but most lists focus on visual web design mistakes. The issues outlined here are less obvious, run deeper, and can undermine entire projects.
So, I hope this helps you to reduce the risks to your website project. If you’d like an even safer web design process, just book a callback, or simply use the link below to tell me what you need help with.