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Web design is like cooking — it may look easy, but it’s easy to get wrong. No microwave can make you a chef. Similarly, DIY website builders let you make costly mis­takes. So Base22 kindly provided this infographic of ten common website design mis­takes, and I’ve added a few more points below.

Ten Common Website Design Mistakes

Whilst DIY web design often makes these mis­takes, so do inex­per­i­enced web designers. That’s why exper­i­enced pro­fes­sional web design is a better business investment, even in affordable web design packages.

Poor User Experience

Whilst user exper­ience is also affected by most of the points below, visual design plays a big part too. It’s not just a matter of making things look pretty, either. Art makes things pretty — design makes them work. Whilst per­sonal sites don’t really need to work, business web­sites do.

Your website is a mission-critical user interface that works closely with your business systems to create the overall user exper­ience. So business  web­sites must put the needs of the end-user first. DIY design makes that harder, as per­sonal pref­er­ences get in the way. Experienced web designers see lots of detailed stats from many web­sites, as well as industry studies, that tell us what really works.

Web designers also con­sider things like colour psy­chology, layout, whitespace, affordance, cog­nitive load and more. This is harder than it seems. That’s why pro­fes­sional UI/UX design spe­cialists exist.

Incorrect Access Levels

Many web­sites provide a login ‘portal’ for various reasons. Often though, dif­ferent types of user need dif­ferent levels of access. So it can be easy — and dan­gerous — to get these wrong. Some access levels can break or irre­vocably destroy a site, either by accident, malice or just a lack of training. Some may also have access to sens­itive data. So user groups need to be iden­tified, and only given the per­mis­sions they need.

Equally dan­gerous — yet more common — is failing to secure these access levels properly. Weak pass­words and out­dated software are among the biggest website security risks. Still, other tech­nical aspects are essential too, like installing SSL cer­ti­ficates and blocking known mali­cious “bots” — without blocking search engines, of course.

Low Quality Website Content

One of the most famous phrases in mar­keting is, “content is king.” Online, good content attracts vis­itors, as well as back­links from other sites, which improves search pos­i­tioning that delivers more free vis­itors. That’s why I was happy to share Base22’s infographic and link it back to their site, for example.

Still, content needs to be indexable, too — search engines need to be able to interpret it. As yet, that still makes text content more powerful than images. Even video content really needs to be backed up by text to reach its full potential.

So, read­ab­ility and text structure are important, as is word count — search engines tend to see any­thing under 300 words as “thin content”, making it less likely to rank well. We used to think that folks wouldn’t read long art­icles online, but years of watching website stats has taught us oth­erwise. Articles with thou­sands of words are more likely to contain some­thing of value — and that’s the critical point.

If cre­ating quality content seems like a lot of work — well, it is. Yet it’s critical to your success. That’s why I provide content mar­keting ser­vices.

Too Much or Too Little Design

Yes, you can have too much design. Inexperienced web designers often focus on “innov­ative” visuals instead of helping you to achieve your business goals. Whilst nice visuals do matter, vis­itors to business web­sites are trying to solve a problem. Too much innov­ation gets in the way of that, con­fusing, frus­trating, and ulti­mately driving away your pro­spective cus­tomers.

“Too little design” doesn’t mean min­im­alism, either. Done well, minimal layouts can be very effective. That’s not the same as careless design. Unlike art, design is driven by goals, rules and con­straints. Whilst design “rules” are more like guidelines, they exist for good reasons. It takes time to learn when and how it is safe to break them.

No Clear Call To Action

Your website vis­itors may be smart, but they’re also busy. Don’t make them think about what to do next, or you’ll lose them. Make your call-to-action (CTA) obvious. Usually, that means big, obvious buttons and forms. Even on more inform­a­tional pages like this though, it helps to remind your readers to get in touch with any ques­tions.

Hidden Contact Information

Whilst most sites include contact inform­ation, it isn’t always very visible from the vis­itor’s point of view. A contact form alone isn’t enough. Listing phone, email and address inform­ation reas­sures vis­itors. If it matches the info on your Google My Business and dir­ectory listings, it also con­firms to search engines that your site is trust­worthy.

Poor Navigation

You may know how to find things on your site, but your vis­itors don’t. Even search engines give up if you use too many levels of sub-page, and menu titles that run into mul­tiple lines just make your site look broken. Put some thought into your site’s nav­ig­ation, so that your most important pages are easy to find.

Irrelevant Photos

Images make a big dif­ference, but they need to match your message, and to look pro­fes­sional. Whilst most phones now have pretty good cameras, poor lighting, focus, back­grounds and com­pos­ition can still make many shots unusable. Photshop can do many things, but it can’t work the mir­acles you see in TV dramas. The fastest, cheapest way to fix a poor photo is often to take a better one — or invest in pro­fes­sional pho­to­graphy.

Not Mobile Friendly

Compared to desktops, mobile devices have limited screen space, con­nection speeds, band­width quotas an pro­cessing power. Yet so many rely on them for internet access that your site’s search pos­i­tioning now depends on how well it works on mobile devices. So exper­i­enced web designers usually create “responsive” layouts that work on desktop and mobile. Not all DIY website builders do, and I still see ama­teurs and print designers cre­ating sites that aren’t responsive at all.

Hard To Read Fonts

Headings and blocks of text give a page visual ‘weight’, so typo­graphy can make a sur­prising dif­ference to a site. Most import­antly though, fonts must be readable. Fancy script fonts often obscure headings and fine-line fonts can almost dis­appear on the wrong back­grounds, or small, low-con­trast or low-resoution screens. As you can see from the infographic too, text in images gets unreadable when the images are resized (so click here for a bigger version).

Not Integrating Social Media

Modern web­sites rarely stand alone. They are mar­keting hubs that gather vis­itors from various channels, including social media. So make it easy for vis­itors to share your site on social media, and follow your other channels. An editable website can be a great way to gen­erate content for your social media channels, too.

Slow Website

Visitors won’t wait for slow web­sites, espe­cially on mobile con­nec­tions. So search engines promote faster sites. Optimising images can go a long way towards improving site speeds and SEO, but many other, more tech­nical, issues can slow down sites too.

Conclusion

Those are just ten of the most common website design mis­takes — there are plenty more. That’s why, for business web­sites, amateur or DIY web design is often a false economy. You’re com­peting with people who engage exper­i­enced pro­fes­sionals. By the time you’ve learned to do that effect­ively, the cost of your time and missed oppor­tun­ities will far exceed the apparent savings.

Planning a website? Want to avoid these web design mis­takes?

Get in touch today!