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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.

3. Under-investment

Website Pricing & Planning - underinvestment adds riskUnder-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.

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